GREENVILLE, S.C. -- The Furman cross country/indoor track and field teams are preparing for a big weekend, as the Paladins will have individuals running in both Colorado and Iowa and the remainder of the team competing at the UCS Invitational at the JDL Indoor Track in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Freshmen Allie Buchalski and Grace Tinkey will compete at the USA Junior Cross Country Championships Saturday at the Flatirons Golf Course in Boulder, Colo.
"Very few programs in the country prioritize the USA Championships, as this meet typically takes away from the team's indoor track schedule," said Furman coach Rita Gary. "However, exposing our athletes to this level of competition and this type of atmosphere is what we believe prepares them best for a long, competitive career in the sport. We hope these experiences will help prepare our athletes for making USA teams in the future, when the sakes are set very high."
Buchalski, who led the Paladins as the team's top finisher in its last four cross country meets, competed as a member of Team USA at the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country International Challenge last month in Edinburgh, Scotland. She earned a spot on the All-Southeast Region cross country team after placing tenth with a time of 20:43.4 on the 6K course at the 2013 NCAA Southeast Region Championships.
A native of Johns Creek, Ga., Buchalski was named the 2013 SoCon Women's Cross Country Freshman of the Year after placing second with a time of 17:32.43 at the league championship meet and helping Furman to a conference title, its first since 2000. For her efforts, Buchalski was also selected to the All-SoCon first team and the SoCon All-Freshman Team.
Tinkey, who hails from Macon, Ga., registered a 16th-place finish with a time of 20:58.9 to earn All-Southeast Region accolades in November. She placed third at the conference meet with a time of 17:33.76, joining Buchalski on both the All-SoCon first team and the SoCon All-Freshman Team, and was the Paladins' top finisher at the Furman Invitational on Sept. 14.
So far this indoor season, Tinkey set a meet record of 17:02.99 in the 5,000m at the Emory Crossplex Invitational, earning SoCon Women's Indoor Track Athlete of the Week honors, then claimed a new Furman record with a time of 9:33.36 in the 3,000m at the High Point Team Challenge.
Rookies Tanner Hinkle and Brock Baker will travel to the Iowa State Track Classic in Ames, Iowa, this weekend. Hinkle, who earned All-SoCon second team accolades after placing ninth with a time of 25:30.25 at the league cross country championships, will compete in the 5,000m this weekend, while Baker, who joined Hinkle on the All-SoCon cross country second team with a 12th-place finish (25:37.58), will focus on the mile in Iowa.
"This is a very competitive meet that will expose Tanner and Brock to some of the best athletes in the country," said Gary. "We hope they can both lay a good race down."
The rest of the Paladin team will compete at the JDL Indoor Track this weekend, in preparation for the SoCon Championships, which will be held at the track March 1-2. "We will focus on getting some competitive marks in place, as this is our last competition before the league meet," said Gary. "The JDL Indoor Track is our conference championship venue, so getting familiar with the flow of the venue will be very helpful in our preparations."
Results from all of the weekend competition will be available on www.furmanpaladins.com.