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    SEC Cross Country Today: September 28

    Vols Post 11th Place Finish at Brooks-Paul Short Run
     
    BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Newcomers Peter Okwera and Alexis Panisse once again paced the Tennessee cross country teams, leading the Vols and Lady Vols at Friday’s 39th annual Paul Short Run presented by Brooks at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.
     
    “Based on their times and finishes in the races, both teams improved dramatically at the Paul Short Run this year,” said director of track & field and cross country J.J. Clark. “They’re both moving in the right direction and will continue to get better as the season winds towards the championship portion.”
     
    For the third time this season, Okwera paced the Big Orange with a 24th place finish in a loaded field of 332 runners. The sophomore transfer navigated the 8,000-meter Goodman Campus Course in 24 minutes, 37 seconds, guiding the Vols to a program-best 11th place team finish at the event. UT improved 26 places from last season’s 37th place finish at the meet.
     
    The Tennessee men accumulated 392 points, while 22nd-ranked Villanova won the meet with 69 total points and posted an impressive spread of 25 seconds. William & Mary took second with 100 points and No. 15 Georgetown rounded out the top three, just one point behind the Tribe.
     
    Panisse was the Lady Vols’ top finisher for the third-straight meet, crossing the line in a 6,000-meter personal best time of 21:36. The Bellerose, N.Y., native finished 58th in a field of 360 runners in the women’s Gold Race on the Goodman Campus Course.
     
    “Peter and Alexis continue to lead their teams,” Clark said. “They have done a great job in doing so and they too will continue to improve as the season continues.”
     
    The Tennessee women, who finished 32nd a year ago, placed 20th out of 40 teams with a total of 617 points. UT improved 12 slots from last year’s 32nd place finish. Ivy League affiliate Cornell took home the team trophy with 55 total points, while William & Mary’s women also placed second with 102 total points. No. 4 Georgetown wound up third with 106 points.
     
    “Kelsey (Kane) and J.R. (Creekmore) had major improvements as well, and it was another solid race for Kyle (Walter), who broke the 25-minute mark for the first time,” said Clark.
     
    Other scorers for the UT men included redshirt freshman Kyle Walter in 48th, who shattered his personal-best 8K time in 24:56 and junior Stephen Derlath in 77th in a personal-best mark of 25:18. Sophomore Austin Whitelaw finished 99th (25:30) and classmate J.R. Creekmore in 144th with a PR of 25:55.
     
    Running but not factoring into the points were juniors Daniel Tobin (187th, 26:17), Jordan Chaney (220th, 26:47) and Alex McCandless (123rd, 26:53), as well as sophomore Jeremy Dickie (311th, 27:35).
     
    Other scorers for the Lady Vols included senior Kelsey Kane in 118th place in a personal-best time of 22:20, junior Amber Zimmerman in the 130th position (22:48), freshman Chelsea Blaase in 151st with a PR of 22:41 and Kacey Nobert in 160th (22:46).
     
    Not factoring into UT’s sum was junior Patavia Lowery, who bested her 6K personal record in a time of 23:09 to finish 196th, sophomores Amirah Johnson (221st, 23:31) and Lizzie Cornell (272nd, 23:45), freshman Caroline Duer (273rd, 23:48) and senior Nijgia Snapp (325th, 24:43).
     
    The Big Orange is off next weekend, before resuming action at Alabama’s Crimson Classic on Saturday, Oct. 13.
     




    Gamecock Cross Country Finishes 11th at Charlotte Invitational

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The South Carolina cross country team claimed 11th place out of 33 teams on Friday at the 6K Charlotte Invitational/NCAA Southeast Regional Preview at McAlpine Park.

    The Gamecocks wrapped up the meet with 296 points to finish ahead of regionally ranked Charlotte (338), the host school.

    For the third straight meet, freshman Kayla Lampe led the way, finishing third out of 233 runners with a time of 21:13.50. A native of Downingtown, Pa., Lampe has finished first, second and third in three meets this season.

    Junior Penny Boswell was the next Gamecock to cross the finish line as she placed 59th with a time of 23:02.06. Freshmen Mary Fouse (60th, 23:02.23), Anna Todd (95th, 23:31.36) and Christine Kent (104th, 23:44.23) rounded out the top five for South Carolina.

    A pair of injuries left the Gamecocks in a tough position, as senior Chelsea France and freshman Annie Grove were unable to finish the race. France had been Carolina’s No. 2 runner all season.

    The Gamecocks also had seven runners compete in the 6K Green Race and placed four in the top 20, including two in the top 10. Freshman Lauren Kahre claimed seventh with a time of 23:30.68, and sophomore Alex Mullin took eighth with a mark of 23:30.70 to lead the way. Freshman Lannon McCoy (12th), freshman Stephanie Berger (18th, 23:43.45), sophomore Meredith Mill (24th), freshman Lisa Zimmer (26th) and freshman Shaina Manuel (33rd) also had strong showings for South Carolina.

    The Gamecocks will return to action on Friday, Oct. 12 in the Queens Royal Challenge at McAlpine Park.






    Alabama Cross Country Competes at Notre Dame Invitational
     
    South Bend, Ind. – Alabama's inexperienced cross country teams stepped up in class and struggled at the 57th annual Notre Dame Invitational on Friday afternoon at the Burke Golf Course in South Bend, Ind. The women's team placed 16th of 18 teams while the men's team did not place as only four of the required five runners for scoring finished the race.
     
    The Crimson Tide, fielding a roster almost entirely made up of freshmen in both divisions, showed progress against the toughest field it has faced thus far this season.
     
    "Our women progressed today but the guys struggled," head coach Dan Waters said. "It's another valuable experience for a young team. We can't get too down about today because of our youth and inexperience, but I am eager to see us respond with a good performance next time out. We can grow from this, and I expect us to."
     
    The Tide women placed 16th of 18 teams in the field as Florida State won the team race ahead of Notre Dame. Alabama was close behind the other SEC teams in the team, placing just back of Texas A&M (13th) and Mississippi State (15th). Meropi Panagiotou led Alabama in 58th overall in 17 minutes, 32 seconds, just ahead of Elsbeth Denton.
     
    Alabama will take off next weekend before returning to action on Saturday, October 13, when the Crimson Tide hosts the Crimson Classic at the Harry Pritchett Running Park.
     




    Texas A&M men finish 7th, Aggie women 13th in Notre Dame Invitational
     
    SOUTH BEND, Indiana – Henry Lelei led the Aggie men to a seventh-place finish at the 57th Notre Dame Invitational on Friday afternoon as he finished second in the five-mile race with a time of 23 minutes, 36 seconds on a splendid day for racing in the Midwest.
     
    Racing on a sun-splashed day with temperatures in the high 60s, Texas A&M matched their seventh place team finish from a year ago on the Notre Dame golf course, scoring 201 points. Last season the Aggies scored 261 points in placing seventh.
     
    “It’s always hard to judge, but I know we ran better than last year,” noted Texas A&M assistant coach Wendel McRaven. “The times are faster and we placed higher this time while the competition was deeper. For some teams this is their coming out party for the season. It was a beautiful day for cross country.”
     
    Tulsa won the men’s team title with 104 points as they were led by individual winner Chris O’Hare, who bettered Lelei by three seconds with his 23:33 finish. Lelei led the field coming into the final 120 meters of the race. However, as the lead cart left the main course Lelei continued to follow it until a meet official guided him to the correct path to the finish line. O’Hare took over the lead and held off Lelei during the final 70 meters of the race.
     
    “I think it was a great race for this point of the season,” said Lelei. “I saw the cart go to the side and I followed. Then people started telling me I had to go to another path to finish. The Tulsa runner was able to take advantage of that. I tried to catch up to him, but it was too late.
     
    “This was great weather to race in today. We are way ahead of last season at this point and will continue to get better for conference and regionals.”
     
    Princeton placed second among the men’s teams with 139 points while Notre Dame (143), Florida State (152) and Eastern Michigan (167) rounded out the top five. New Mexico (200) squeezed ahead of the Aggie by a point. Washington State (230), McNeese State (231) and North Carolina State (237) completed the top 10 schools among the 20 that scored.
     
    James Hodges was the second Aggie finisher as he clocked a time of 24:10 to place 18th. Then Stephen Curry placed 44th with a 24:28 while Isaac Spencer ran 24:29 to place 47th. A&M’s fifth finisher was C.J. Brown in 91st with a 24:55.
     
    “It’s good to see Henry running so well and James Hodges took a huge step up today,” said McRaven. “Curry and Spencer were right where I expected them to be. We are headed in the right direction, we just need to keep closing the gap between our fourth and fifth runner. We have a bunch of guys who can do that.”
     
    Rounding out the Aggie crew were MacLean O’Donnell (114th – 25:16), Colin Slattery (124th – 25:23), Dylan Williams (142nd – 25:49) and Jake Roberts (144th – 25:54) among the field of 163 runners.
     
    In an open men’s race A&M’s Micah Dettmer claimed top honors as he posted a time of 24:16. Teammates Bobby Zeller (24:48) and Jake Hervey (25:02) finished ninth and 12th, respectively, in the five mile race.
     
    “It was great to see Micah win that race,” stated McRaven. “He has put in the work this summer and it was good to see it pay off for him. When you win it doesn’t matter if you were just racing around in the back yard, you like to win. He may be a guy who can challenge to be in our top five.”
    Dettmer noted: “I went out there and worked with Bobby and Jake and it was the best teamwork I’ve had so far in a race. Having solid training during the summer and into this season has helped. I’m looking forward to bigger things in the future as well.”
     
    Amanda Jenkins paced the Aggie women’s team to a 13th-place finish as she placed 42nd among the field of 145 runners with a time of 17:25 on the 5,000-meter course. Sophie Blake ran with the leaders early in the race and finished 52nd with a 17:29. Hillary Montgomery was the third A&M finisher in 17:30 for 55th place.
     
    “The eight girls we lined up today are way ahead of where they were a year ago,” noted McRaven. “They are showing progress and getting better. That’s a real positive sign for us.”
     
    Jenkins said: “It was very nice to have a cooler environment to race in. I think that helped a lot. Sophie has led us in the first two meets this season and we have been working together in practice, so it feels good to lead the team this time.”
     
    There was a gap to the next pair of Aggies to complete the course as Shawn Dalglish (100th – 18:02) and Gabby Salazar (109th – 18:09) completed A&M’s team score. Texas A&M scored 348 points to place ahead of Ohio (363), Mississippi State (366), Alabama (378), Liberty (460), and Washington State (500).
     
    The rest of the Aggie women’s crew included Grace Fletcher (122nd – 18:26), Tara Upshaw (132nd – 18:47) and Heather Sterling (133rd – 18:48).
     
    Florida State, ranked No. 2 in the nation, won the women’s team title with 28 points. Host Notre Dame finished second with a score of 110. New Mexico (147), North Carolina State (148), and Illinois (187) rounded out the top five schools.
     




    MSU Cross Country Teams Finish In Top 20 At Notre Dame Invite

    SOUTH BEND, Ind. - As action concluded at the 57th Annual Notre Dame Invite, Mississippi State men's and women's cross country teams came away with 20th- and 15th-place finishes, respectively.

    Facing some of the toughest competition this season, the Bulldogs raced against a total of 10 nationally ranked teams, including the No. 10 and No. 2 Florida State men and women.

    "Notre Dame is notorious for having fierce competition," Renee Masterson said. "I am so proud of our girls for fighting through the second mile and finishing with passion.  We have made impressive advances in our training."

    Masterson (33rd, 17:18) led the way in the 5K for the Lady Bulldogs, finishing in the top fourth of all female runners. Following Masterson were Katie Huston (73rd, 17:41) and Chloe Phillips (74th, 17:43). The women totaled 366 points to earn 15th place, ahead of SEC foe Alabama.

    "If there's one thing we learned from this meet, it's that mental toughness will get you through a race when your legs start to lock up," Masterson said. "We are learning how to say 'yes' when our legs say 'no.' We are preparing for the SEC Championships with a 'yes' mentality."

    The men finished 20th, accumulating 587 points with John Valentine (72nd, 24.42) leading the pack. Philip Johnson (131st, 25:32) and Curtis Kelly (140th, 25:37) also help lead the way for MSU in the 8K.

    After the squads return from Indiana, they will continue their campaign on Oct. 13 at the Crimson Classic in Tuscaloosa.