2016 Brooks Memphis Twilight XC Classic

Top Storylines of Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic

Top Storylines of Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic

The 14th annual Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic kicks off this Saturday, featuring the best local cross country competition from middle school to NCAA Divis

Sep 2, 2016 by Taylor Dutch
Top Storylines of Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic
The 14th annual Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic kicks off this Saturday, featuring the best local cross country competition from middle school to NCAA Division I. With more than 3,000 competitors across multiple levels, the Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic will once provide an exciting start to the cross country season. Catch up on the top storylines to watch heading into Saturday's coverage:

The NCAA Champion Returns
After missing out on the 2016 NCAA track season, Mississippi State's Rhianwedd Price is returning to the starting line in Memphis. The cross country All-American and 2015 NCAA 1500m champion will look to reestablish her dominance and lead the Bulldogs in the team's season opener. 

Price emerged as a team leader in 2014 when she finished third in the south region and 24th in the NCAA, her first All-American honor of her career. She continued the momentum during the 2015 track season when she beat defending champion Shelby Houlihan with a lethal kick to win the NCAA outdoor 1500m. 

Price's 2015 cross country season was highlighted by a 10th-place finish in the south region and a 50th-place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. According to results hub Tilastopaja.net, her most recent performances include a 35:18 road 10K in May, and interestingly enough, two hurdle races: 300m hurdles (44.08) and 400m hurdles (59.1). 

Top Teams From South Region to Debut
The No. 13 Ole Miss men, Mississippi State, defending champions Alabama, and Middle Tennessee State highlight the college team competition. The individual entries are not confirmed yet, but there is a possibility that Olympic Trials competitors Craig Engels and MJ Erb will open their cross country seasons in Memphis. The Ole Miss standouts are returning from competing in the 800m/1500m and steeplechase, respectively, at the Trials. 

Engels had the meet of his life in Eugene when he claimed a fourth-place finish in the 800m final and a fifth-place finish in the 1500m final. He barely missed making the Olympic team in both events, and also claimed personal bests in both races. He ran 1:46.03 in the 800m and 3:37.66 in the 1500m. Erb finished eighth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the steeplechase and returned to finish 15th in the first Olympic Trials final of his young career. 

FloTrack caught the Ole Miss men hammering a cross country workout on the golf course last fall:

Middle Tennessee State brings a more experienced squad fresh off of multiple individual NCAA outdoor berths. Community college transfer Sampson Laari is returning after finishing fifth in the 800m at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. He also notched a sixth-place finish at the African Championships in late June. The women's team returns two NCAA preliminary qualifiers: Susan Aneno and Agnes Abu. 

Defending Champion Antibahs Kosgei Looks to Retain Title
Alabama's star runner will return with victory on his mind after winning last year's Brooks Memphis Twilight by a whopping 18 seconds. Kosgei had a standout track season last spring; he finished 18th in the 10K at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Earlier in the season, he also set a 10K personal best of 29:19 at the Stanford Invitational. Kosgei returns as one of the top individuals in the south region after winning last year's SEC championship and region championship. 

Lauren Paquette Out For Course Record
After a breakthrough track season that included personal bests of 4:37 in the mile, 8:57 in the 3K, and 15:14 in the 5K, Memphis native Lauren Paquette is set to take her momentum to the cross country course. Word on the street is that the Brooks pro is aiming to break the Memphis Twilight course record of 16:46. Paquette's most recent performance on the track included a fourth-place finish at the KBC-Nacht meeting in Huesden, where she finished in 15:28. 

Look for archived race footage and interviews from the course in Memphis on Saturday night on FloTrack.