It will be something old and something new for the Royals cross country teams this fall. Something borrowed is to be determined, but the EMU's runners will certainly be wearing something blue. Royal blue. (And white.)
Entering his second season at Eastern Mennonite, cross country coach Bob Hepler has designed a seven-race season, including the conference and regional races. The season starts on Friday, Aug. 30, and includes a new home meet.
The cross country runners first get their legs on a course at the Bridgewater XC Challenge on Aug. 30, the same meet where they have started the season the past few seasons.
The following Friday, on September 6, the Royals return home for the first time in 17 years, hosting the new EMU Mennonite Heritage Cross Country Invitational. Hepler designed a course utilizing EMU's grass soccer field and the neighboring fields at Eastern Mennonite School, giving the Royals their first meet on campus since a previous course was last used in 2002. (EMU has also recently hosted meets at the Peakview Course at Burtner Farms in Penn Laird.)
The true home meet will also be a Rowdy Royals Meet, with EMU student-athletes and community encouraged to support their fellow Royals on the course.
Eastern Mennonite has three more "regular season" meets scheduled, starting with a new road trip to the Friendship Invitational in Cedarville, Ohio, on Sept. 14. They will then return to the Hornet Harrier hosted by Shenandoah University on Sept. 28 and the Gettysburg Invitational on Oct. 19.
Roanoke College hosts the ODAC Championships on Nov. 2 in Salem, Va., with the South/Southeast Regional Championships hosted by Rhodes in Memphis, Tenn., on Nov. 16.
Last fall, the EMU women finished 5th as a team at the ODAC Championships and 16th at Regionals. The men were 6th and 23rd, respectively.