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    SEC Cross Country Today: October 12

    Georgia Cross Country Battles Versus Nation’s Best At Wisconsin Invite

    MADISON, Wisc. - The Georgia cross country teams had a pair of top-30 finishes and improved from last year against many of the country’s top teams at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Friday afternoon.

    Senior Matt Cleaver highlighted the men’s 18th-place finish (505 points) by taking 46th individually in the 6k race.  Cleaver completed the course in 24 minutes flat, as Georgia was the second team from the Southeastern Conference to finish.

    The Lady Bulldogs scored 719 points to take 29th in the women’s 6k competition, which is an eight-place improvement for the Georgia women from their 2011 finish.  Sophomore Carly Hamilton scored for the third consecutive meet after clocking a 20:41 for 74th place.

    “I was really pleased with how both teams competed against some of the top talent in the country,” said Bulldog distance coach Patrick Cunniff.  “I think our crew handled the circumstances of running against a huge field and a high-quality field very well.

    “I think the guys moving up three spots from last year’s finish with a field as deep or deeper than last year is exceptional.  Cleaver put on a very strong performance and (Luke) Baker continues to compete at a high level.  Brandon Lord did not have his best meet, but we know he will be back at his usual level when it counts.

    “On the women’s side, this is the first time we’ve seen a complete effort from our whole team and I think things are coming together.  They ran a smart, tough race.  Carly and Morgan trimming about two minutes off their finishes from last year was great news for this team.  Carly has become a steady leader and Morgan really ran an amazing race today.  I think it was an overall solid effort.”

    During Georgia’s fourth meet of the season, junior Luke Baker finished behind Cleaver and scored for the third time in 2012 after taking 74th (24:09).  Fellow junior Brandon Lord, who led Georgia last season at the meet, came across the line in 111th place with a time of 24:20.

    The Bulldogs’ final two scorers on the day were seniors Brian Detweiler and Brett Richardson.  Detweiler was running in his second meet of the season and was 115th (24:22) while Richardson crossed the finish line in 24:32 for 159th place.

    Hamilton led the charge in the field of 327 runners, but senior Morgan VanGorder also broke into the top 100.  VanGorder took 87th after registering a time of 20:45.  Her senior teammate Leslie Boozer was next to score for the Lady Bulldogs with a 169th-place finish (21:11).

    Bret McDaniel finished two spots behind Boozer for 171st place (21:12) as she scored in her third straight meet.  Georgia’s final finisher in the top five was junior Savannah Kirk, who managed a 218th-place finish with a time of 21:31.

    This meet is Georgia’s final tune-up before the SEC Championships in Nashville, Tenn., on Oct. 26.

    Full results and a recap from the Wisconsin Invitational are located at

    Gamecocks Take 10th At Queens Royal Challenge

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The South Carolina cross country ‘B’ team ran at the 5K Queen’s Royal Challenge on Friday afternoon and raced to a 10th-place finish out of 25 teams at McAlpine Park.

    The Gamecocks finished the meet with 303 points, as freshman Lisa Zimmer led the way with a 39th-place finish with a time of 18:40.8.

    Freshman Stephanie Berger was the next South Carolina runner to cross the finish line as she placed 70th with a time of 19:18.4. Senior Megan Rother turned in an 89th-place finish in a time of 19:40.2, and freshman Courtney Swink was not far behind as she finished 90th with a mark of 19:41.9.

    Junior Kelly Newcomb posted a time of 20:02.5 to finish 105th, while Alexandra Whitley recorded a time of 20:14 to cross the line in 107th place.

    Sophomore Kelsey Rudeck rounded out the Gamecock contingent, finishing 128th with a time of 21:08.7.

    Duke won the meet with 56 points, followed by Davidson (69), Florida State (77), Liberty (89) and Western Carolina (137).

    The Gamecock varsity squad will run on Saturday in the NCAA Preview Meet in Louisville, Ky. The 6K race will begin at 11:30 a.m. at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park.

    Lelei finishes fourth at Wisconsin Invite as A&M men place 19th in national caliber field
    MADISON, Wisconsin – Henry Lelei turned in another stellar performance for the Aggies as his time of 23 minutes, 36 seconds, over an 8,000-meter course placed the A&M senior fourth among a national caliber field at Friday’s fourth annual Wisconsin adidas Invitational held on the Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course.
    Racing on a splendid day with the temperatures in the low 50s, the Aggie men placed 19th overall in a field of 45 teams. The A&M women finished 46th in team scoring.
    Lelei was with the lead group throughout the race, clicking off mile splits at a 4:43 pace. Lelei covered the first mile in 4:53 as the lead group opened with a slower pace. Lelei then had splits of 9:06 and 14:56 at the 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter marks.
    “It was a good field and the weather was great,” said Lelei. “I enjoyed racing my friend from Arizona. I knew it was going to be a tough race against him and the field had a lot of ranked teams. It was a big challenge for us.”
    Arizona’s tandem of Lawi Lalang and Stephen Sambu finished first and second, with times of 23:03 and 23:07. Iona’s Matt Gillespie placed third in 23:25, just a second ahead of Lelei. Wisconsin’s Maverick Darling took fifth in 23:28.
    “Lelei is way ahead of where he was at this point last year, and he ended up placing ninth in the national meet,” said Texas A&M assistant coach Wendel McRaven. “That bodes well for him individually. A year ago he placed 26th at this meet, running a 24:16. Now he is fourth at 23:36, so that is a nice progression.”

    The men’s team title went to Stanford with 135 points while Iona placed second at 145 and Oklahoma finished third with 166 points. The rest of the top 10 teams included Texas (267), Arkansas (308), Columbia (308), Michigan (338), New Mexico (350), Eastern Kentucky (379), and UCLA (381).
    Texas A&M finished two places behind No. 1 Wisconsin (489) and just seven points behind Georgia’s tally of 505 points for 18th place. Other teams placing behind the Aggies were Kansas (526), Arizona State (528), Washington (542), Minnesota (542), Illinois (545), Arizona (608), Notre Dame (615), Virginia (639), and Harvard (655).
    “For the second year in a row this meet is one of the best regular season meets in the sport,” stated McRaven. “To finish 19th, and be two places behind the No. 1 team (Wisconsin 17th) in the country, shows the quality and depth of this field. To run well you have to be ready and show up.”
    James Hodges was the next A&M runner to finish the course, running 24:08 to place 70th. Stephen Curry clocked 24:16 to finish 94th. C.J. Brown (24:33) and Micah Dettmer (24:38) rounded out the scoring for the Aggies as they placed 161st and 183rd.  The sixth and seventh finishers for A&M were Isaac Spencer (195th – 24:44) and MacLean O’Donnell (277th – 25:42).
    “I think we had some bright spots, Henry Lelei ran great,” noted McRaven. “He stuck his nose in there and competed really up at the front of the pack. James Hodges continues to show a lot of progress, and Stephen Curry the same thing. I thought we were really solid through the first three runners.”
    Iowa State claimed the women’s team title with 108 points with Stanford runner-up at 180 and Washington in third with 250 points. Cornell (262) and Providence (263) rounded out the top five teams.
    Vanderbilt, the defending SEC champion, placed 18th with 486 points while Missouri finished 43rd with 1,060 points. The Aggies, with a team score of 1,150 points, placed ahead of Kansas (1187) and Nebraska (1400).
    Amanda Jenkins led the Aggie squad for the second consecutive outing. She covered the women’s 6,000-meter course in 21:08 to place 156th.
    “I’m thankful I’m healthy and have been able to run well this season,” noted Jenkins. “I tried my best and it happened to place me first among the team. I just try to gauge where I should be at different stages of the race. You kind of have a goal for yourself that you set each race, so I just try to stick with my goal. Then I use other people in the race to push me and see if I can do better.”
    Finishing behind Jenkins for the A&M squad were Hillary Montgomery (178th – 21:14), Shawn Dalglish (264th – 21:52), Gabby Salazar (275th – 21:59), and Grace Fletcher (277th – 22:00). Sophie Blake (22:08) and Tara Upshaw (23:13) were the sixth and seventh runners for the Aggies.
    “With the women’s team the only disappointing thing was in the way we raced today, it’s not reflective of the progress we made,” said McRaven. “Two weeks ago we could see that progress. Today we didn’t get to see that continue, because we didn’t race very well.
    “That’s part of the sport. In a field this size, with so many bodies out there, you have to stay engaged in racing. It’s easy to be running pretty well and get discouraged when you see a lot of bodies in front of you. That is something we have to learn from with this fairly inexperienced group.”
    In the men’s open division Collin Slattery placed 42nd with a time of 25:12 while Bobby Zeller posted a 26:46 to finish 95th.

    Fifth place at Wisconsin adidas Invitational
    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Competing in a field that featured 20 ranked teams, the No. 19 University of Arkansas men’s cross country team tied for fifth place Friday afternoon at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational in Madison, Wis. The Razorbacks were paced by a ninth-place individual finish from Eric Fernandez and placed three runners inside the top 20 overall.
    Arkansas entered the race as the 12th-highest ranked team in the field and with their performance Friday, the Razorbacks beat seven teams—No. 1 Wisconsin, t-No. 5 Iona, No. 10 Syracuse, No. 11 Princeton, No. 13 Notre Dame, No. 16 Minnesota and No. 18 Northern Arizona—ranked ahead of them in the most recent national rankings. Arkansas tied for fifth place with No. 17 Columbia.  
    Fernandez was the first Razorback runner to cross the finish line, navigating the 8K path at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course in a personal-best time of 23:36, knocking 16 seconds off his previous best at that distance. He was followed in the lineup by Solomon Haile in 15th place and Kemoy Campbell in 16. Haile posted a time of 23:42 with Campbell right behind his teammate, clocking in at 23:43. Campbell, Fernandez and Haile have been Arkansas’ top-three finishers in the past two competitions.
    The Razorbacks’ fourth runner was Layne Nixon and his time of 24:23 was good for 118th place overall. Nixon has scored in each of the team’s three meets this season. Arkansas’ scoring lineup was rounded out by Cameron Efurd who crossed the finish line in 150th place with a time of 24:29. Friday’s race marked Efurd’s first appearance in the team’s top five during the 2012 season.
    Arkansas’ sixth and seventh runners were David Flynn and Cale Wallace, respectively. Flynn finished in 191st place with a time of 24:41, while Wallace—the only freshman in the lineup—was 244th in 25:08.
    The Razorbacks were the top Southeastern Conference performers in the race, finishing ahead of conference mates Georgia (18th place), Missouri (31st) and Texas A&M (19th).
    Friday’s race was Arkansas’ third of the season and last before the start of the championship season. The SEC Cross Country Championships will be contested Oct. 26 at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Tenn. The Razorbacks are the defending conference champions while Fernandez is the reigning individual title winner.