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    SEC Cross Country Notebook

    SEC Cross Country Notebook (October 9, 2012)


    Alabama's inexperienced cross country teams stepped up in class and struggled at the 57th annual Notre Dame Invitational on Oct. 28 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. 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 returns to action on Saturday, October 13, when the Crimson Tide hosts the Crimson Classic at the Harry Pritchett Running Park.


    Men - The Razorback men did not compete for the second consecutive weekend in preparation for Friday’s Wisconsin adidas Invitational in Madison. That event is scheduled for a 12:45 p.m. (CT) start. The field of competition at the Wisconsin meet will feature 20 of the top-30 teams in the country. Arkansas will also play host to the 24th Annual Chile Pepper Festival on Saturday at Agri Park in Fayetteville. In the most recent release of the USTFCCCA polls, the Razorbacks are ranked No. 19 in the nation and second in the South Central region. Women - For her performance at the Greater Louisville Classic (Sept. 29), Andrina Schlaepfer was named the SEC Freshman of the Week for the second time this season. The Razorback women did not compete last weekend but will return to the course Saturday morning for the 24th Annual Chile Pepper Festival at Agri Park in Fayetteville. The women’s 6K race is slated for a 10:30 a.m. (CT) start. In last week’s release of the USTFCCCA national poll, Arkansas is ranked No. 11 in the nation. Regionally, the Razorbacks are the No. 1 team in the South Central.


    Auburn saw its run of team victories end for both the men’s and women’s teams on Sept. 28 … At their first meet outside the state of Alabama, the Tigers finished in 13th on the men’s side and 26th in the women’s race at the 11th Annual Greater Louisville Classic hosted by the University of Louisville at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park … Nine members of the Auburn program did set personal best marks in Louisville … The men's team was led by five personal bests in the 8k race, including junior Samuel Mueller, who finished 55th overall in 24:47.29. Sophomore Niklas Buhner (new PR, 24:49.50) was right behind him in 57th … Sophomores Francis Hernandez (25:10.61) and Griffin Jaworski (25:24.18) along with junior Hunter Hayes (26:34.52) also recorded collegiate best times … In the women's 5k, four Auburn runners set new personal bests … Sophomore Erin Fondren (18:28.93) led the group of four Tigers setting PR marks … A trio of freshmen in Taylor Duncan (18:16.14), Kristin Sheehan (19:18.91) and Sage Blackwell (19:36.61) also had collegiate best days … The Tigers head to Tuscaloosa on October 13 for the Crimson Classic in the final tune up before the SEC Championships.


    After nearly two weeks free from competition, the Gator cross country squads will hit the road for the 2012 Pre-Nationals Meet October 13 in Louisville, Ky., also the site of the 2012 NCAA Championships in November. The meet will serve as the first big test of the season for the Gators. The event will take place at E.P. ‘Tom’ Sawyer State Park and will be hosted by University of Louisville. The men will run an 8K event (9:30 a.m.), the women a 6K (10:15 a.m.), as a number of Top-25 men’s and women’s teams will participate in the elite competition. Last time out, assistant track and cross country coach Paul Spangler took a contingent of Gators to the St. Leo Invitational September 29, where a pair of Florida runners in Shelby Hayes and Phil Duncan each recorded their first collegiate victories donning the Orange and Blue with career-best times. Both the men’s and women’s teams recorded victories to remain undefeated on the season. The Gators have not competed at the Pre-Nationals Meet in two years, having opted to compete at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational instead last season. In 2010, UF’s women placed 19th of 40 teams, while the men’s squad was ninth of 35 teams in the 2012 Pre-Nationals field. For all the latest on Florida cross country, follow the Gators on Twitter @GatorZoneXCntry and @GZTrackField, as well as on Facebook.


    Georgia's cross country teams did not compete over the weekend.  The Bulldog men are currently ranked 24th in the latest USTFCCCA poll, which marks their top national ranking since the 2004 season.  The men and women are coming off third- and 10th-place finishes, respectively, at the Greater Louisville Classic on Sept. 29.  Both the Lady Bulldogs and the Georgia men will return to action at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational in Madison, Wisc., on Friday, Oct. 12.  Last year, the Bulldog men finished 21st versus a pile of nationally-ranked teams at the Wisconsin meet during an event that was described as the most competitive regular season meet in the history of the sport.  The Lady Bulldogs were 37th at the Wisconsin Invitational as senior Kristie Krueger finished 20th overall.  


    Two Kentucky runners were named SEC Cross Country Athletes of the Week for their performances at the Greater Louisville Cross Country Classic. Luis Orta and Cally Macumber garnered the honors after both produced high finishes at one of the most competitive meets in the nation. Macumber was named Women’s Runner of the Week after she finished second individually with a 5,000 meter time of 16:55.14. That mark currently stands as the best 5K time in the SEC so far this season. The senior is off to a great start to the season as she has now finished inside the top two at each of the three meets the Wildcats have competed in this campaign. Macumber already boasts an individual victory at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational two weeks ago. The senior came in ahead of Washington’s Katie Flood in Louisville, who is the defending Pacific-12 Conference cross country champion and a top-10 finisher at the 2011 NCAA Championships. The Wildcats placed eighth as a team at the Greater Louisville Classic and were the only team not ranked nationally among the meet’s top-eight. Orta earned Co-Men’s Runner of the Week for his 12th-place time of 24:06.96 over 8K on Saturday. He earned the same award three times last season. It was the third-consecutive top-20 performance for Orta this year and his ninth-consecutive top-25 finish dating back the 2011 season-opener. The former First Team All-SEC selection lowered his previous best 8K time of the season by over 30 seconds in leading the Wildcat men to a 12th-place team finish. The UK women boasted a second top-10 finisher in Louisville as Chelsea Oswald was the seventh runner to complete the race with a time of 16:59.32. The Wildcats return to the same course they raced on for the Greater Louisville Classic, E.P. "Tom" Sawyer Park, on Oct. 13 for Pre-Nationals before that site hosts the NCAA Championships on Nov. 17.


    For the second consecutive week, the Lady Tiger cross country team posted a first-place finish, doing so on Sept. 29, at the McNeese Cowboy Stampede held at Enos Darbonne Recreation Complex in Lake Charles, La., where the team scored a total of 19 points. The Lady Tigers were once again led by senior Laura Carleton who finished the 5k race in 17 minutes, 51 seconds, senior Dakota Goodman with a time of 18:17.00, and junior Natoya Goule posting a time of 18:20.00. The runners finished the race in first, second and third place respectively. Carleton was also named the SEC Women's Runner of the Week on Oct. 25, an honor a LSU runner has not received since 2006. The LSU men's cross country team also posted another solid performance at the Cowboy Stampede. The team finished third overall with 49 points. Senior Roger Cooke finished the four-mile race third overall with a time of 21:20.00 and sophomore Bryan Mutell rounded out the top 10 with a time of 21:49.00. The next action for the Tigers and Lady Tigers will be Saturday, Oct. 13 when the teams travel to Fayetteville, Ark., to participate in the Chile Pepper Festival meet held at Agri Park Cross Country Course.  

    Ole Miss

    Men – Ole Miss will return to action Saturday at the Crimson Classic in Tuscaloosa, Ala. This will be the Rebels’ final regular season meet before heading to the SEC Championships in Nashville, Tenn. The men are looking to make improvements after placing 30th at the Greater Louisville Classic on Sept. 29. The Rebels will be led by senior Riley Young, junior Max Holman and freshman Seumas O’Reilly. O’Reilly has helped pace the Rebel men all season. He currently has the best four-mile time of all SEC freshmen (21:28.93). Women – The Ole Miss women, ranked No. 5 in the South Region, did not compete over the weekend. The Rebels will return to the course on Saturday morning at the Crimson Classic in Tuscaloosa, Ala. This will be the Rebels’ final meet before heading to the SEC Championships on Oct. 26. The women are coming off of an 11th-place finish at the Greater Louisville Classic on Sept. 29, led by an eighth-place finish from senior Katie Breathitt. Breathitt currently has the fourth-best 5K time in the SEC this year (17:01.68), as well as the fourth-best 6K time (21:03.23). The Rebels will also look to fellow seniors Anne Threlkeld and Kelsey Breathitt, Katie’s twin sister, for leadership.
    Mississippi State

    After competing at the Notre Dame Invite on Sept. 28, the Bulldogs will return to action at the Crimson Classic in Tuscaloosa on Oct. 13. Mississippi State men's and women's cross country teams finished in the Top 20 in South Bend, Ind., coming away with 20th- and 15th-place finishes, respectively. Masterson (33rd, 17:18) led the way in the 5K for the Lady Bulldogs, finishing in the top fourth of all female runners. The women totaled 366 points to earn 15th place, ahead of SEC foe Alabama. The men accumulated 587 points with John Valentine (72nd, 24.42) leading the pack in the 8K. Races at Alabama will be begin Saturday at 8:30 a.m.


    The Tigers will be travelling to Wisconsin later this week to compete in the fourth annual Wisconsin Adidas Invitational.  Both teams are looking forward to another great meet as some of the top teams in the SEC and the nation will also be competing.  The women’s 6K will go off at noon, with the men’s 8K following at 12:45 out of the Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course in Madison.

    South Carolina

    The Gamecocks did not compete last weekend and will return to action with two meets this week…South Carolina will compete in the Queens Royal Challenge on Friday at McAlpine Park in Charlotte, N.C. …The Gamecocks will wrap up the week on Saturday at the NCAA Preview Meet in Louisville, Ky.


    The Tennessee cross country squads will compete in their final tune-up before the championship portion of the season this weekend when the Big Orange travels to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to run in the annual Alabama Crimson Classic. The event, which takes place at Harry Pritchett Running Park, will begin at 8:30 a.m. CT on Saturday with the men’s 8,000-meter. The women’s 5K will follow at 9:10 a.m. Newcomers Peter Okwera and Alexis Panisse continue to lead UT, having each posted the top time in all three races for the Big Orange. Last time out, Okwera finished the prestigious Paul Short Run in 24th place, navigating the 8K course in 24:37. Panisse posted a personal-best time of 21:36 in the 6K at the event and helped the Lady Vols improve 12 places from last year’s finish. Last season at the Crimson Classic, Lady Vol senior Brittany Sheffey cruised to a win in a career-best time of 17:11.71, to guide the Orange & White to a third place finish. On the men’s side, senior Chris Bodary finished second for the Vols. The Tennessee men will be making their 15th appearance at the event, while the Lady Vols will be running at the UA-hosted meet for the ninth time.

    Texas A&M

    In running at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational this Friday, Texas A&M will be among a field of nearly 50 teams that will race on the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course in Madison. The men will race a distance of 8,000 meters while the women traverse a course of 6,000 meters. Action begins at noon with the women’s race while the men start at 12:40 p.m. Men - Competing in a national caliber field that includes the No. 1 squad in the nation with the host Badgers, Texas A&M seeks another solid team performance prior to the SEC Championships. There are 21 top 30 teams in the men’s field, including SEC schools Arkansas, Georgia, and Missouri. After winning its first two meets of the season at Baylor and Rice the Aggies placed seventh in Notre Dame. Last season A&M, ranked No. 27 at the time, tied Oregon for 14th place at the Wisconsin meet in the process of defeating seven nationally ranked teams. Henry Lelei led the Aggies last season at Wisconsin, placing 26th with a time of 24:16. Other A&M runners with experience on the Zimmer course include James Hodges (24:54), MacLean O’Donnell (24:56), Stephen Curry (24.59), C.J. Brown (25:44) and Isaac Spencer (25:57). Women - No. 2 Arizona is the highest ranked team in the Wisconsin women’s field while SEC schools also competing include Georgia, Missouri and Vanderbilt. After Sophie Blake led the Aggies in the first two meets of the season, Amanda Jenkins had top honors among the A&M crew at Notre Dame. Last season, the Aggies finished 33rd in team scoring among a field of 44 squads at Wisconsin. A&M runners returning from last year’s race include Tara Upshaw (21:39), Hillary Montgomery (21:40) and Shawn Dalglish (22.07). Grace Fletcher (22:27) and Blake (23:10) ran in the B race at Wisconsin last season.


    Men - The Vanderbilt men's cross country team returns to action this week at the Evansville Invitational on Saturday, October 13. The team's sophomore class continues to lead the way, with John Ewing at the front of the pack. Ewing placed 42nd at the Greater Louisville Classic with a time of 25:47.6. Ewing led the Commodores to a 23rd place finish in the 8K Blue race. The race at Evansville will serve as the final tune-up before the October 26 SEC Championships, which will be hosted by Vanderbilt at Nashville's Percy Warner Park. Women - The Vanderbilt women's cross country team will split it squad this weekend. The 12th-ranked Commodores will send their top runners to the Wisconsin-Adidas Invitational on Friday, October 12 to run against one of the top fields in the nation. Look for Kristen Findley to follow-up a strong performance at the Greater Louisville Classic, where the senior placed fourth with a 5K time of 16:59.26. Hannah Jumper joined Findley in the top-25, posting a mark of 17:16.79, with Vanderbilt placing sixth as a team among the deep field. The remainder of the women's team will join the men's team in Evansville, Ind., for the Evansville Invitational on Saturday, October 13. The weekend serves as the final tune-up before the Commodores look to defend their SEC title at home on October 26. Vanderbilt is hosting the 2012 SEC Cross Country Championships at Nashville's Percy Warner Park.