Come "Z" Us; Get a Z-Shirt at the Tommy Evans Invitational on Thursday

Come "Z" Us; Get a Z-Shirt at the Tommy Evans Invitational on Thursday

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AKRON, Ohio – The University of Akron men's and women's cross country teams will open their 2014 season on Thursday when they play host to the 46th running of the Tommy Evans Invitational at Firestone Metro Park.

This year's field will include Akron, Kent State, Malone, Marshall and Youngstown State. The women's 5K will begin at 5:30 p.m. ET, with the men's 4 mile scheduled for a 6:15 start.

Fans are encouraged to come out and "Z" the Zips compete on Thursday. Z-Shirts will be given out to the first 100 fans that come to "Z" the meet. All fans that show the "Z" symbol to a member of the cross country staff (correct Z-ing is with the thumbs touching with the left hand on top and index fingers extended out) will receive an Akrun Z Country t-shirt.

The Invitational will take place at Firestone Metro Park, which is located at 2620 Harrington Road in Akron. The annual event serves as the first race of the year for the Zips and the lone home meet for the men's and women's teams.

The men's team is coming off one of the best seasons in program history in 2013. The Zips finished a program-best ninth at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional championship, capping off a fall slate that included a program-best Mid-American Conference runner-up finish.

The men's roster is a young one, featuring just one senior and four juniors. The squad returns four of its top-five finishers at the MAC Championships last year in Trevor Norris, Clayton Murphy, Kyle Cochrun and Dylan Papp.

The women's squad opens the season with a squad mixed with youth and experience. The Zips open 2014 with five juniors and seniors, in addition to six freshmen and four sophomores. Akron finished in eight place at the MAC Championships last year and returns all six runners that competed in the league championship meet.