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    SEC Cross Country Weekly Notebook

    SEC Cross Country Notebook (Pre-SEC Championships – October 22, 2012)


    Alabama

    Men - The Crimson Tide men have been bolstered in recent weeks by the emergence of freshman Robbie Farnham-Rose of Great Britain. Farnham-Rose, one of the top junior runners in the UK in recent years, led Alabama at the Crimson Classic with a fifth-place individual finish. "Robbie is just starting to come into form after a transition to the States," Waters said. "I expect him to be a tough competitor and I am interested to see how well he does against an SEC field." Farnham-Rose figures to lead a bevy of freshmen for Alabama, including Gil Walton, Justin Ahalt, Andre Faris and Parker Deuel. Women - Alabama is performing at its best heading into the SEC Championships. Leading that resurgence is freshman Katelyn Greenleaf, who led the Crimson Tide women's team to a team title at the Crimson Classic on October 13 in Tuscaloosa. "Katelyn’s running the kind of times that I would expect her to be a top-15 or top-10 finisher in the SEC, which would be outstanding as a freshman," said head coach Dan Waters. The Tide women also will be led by senior Elsbeth Denton (sixth at the Crimson Classic) and freshman Meropi Panagiotou. Juniors Claire Turner and Palee Myrex figure to be Alabama's other scorers at the SEC meet, both capping solid seasons to this point.

    Arkansas

    Men - The No. 9 Razorbacks travel to Nashville, Tenn., this week for the SEC Championships. The conference meet will be contested Friday at Percy Warner Park with the men’s 8K competition is scheduled for an 11 a.m. (CT) start. Arkansas is the two-time defending SEC champion and will be chasing its 20th cross country title since joining the league for the 1991-92 season. Senior Eric Fernandez is the defending conference individual champion. In the most recent USTFCCCA rankings, the Razorbacks moved up to a season-high No. 9 spot in the national poll and are the second-ranked team in the South Central region. Women - The 12th-ranked Razorbacks will compete this Friday morning at the SEC Championships in Nashville, Tenn. The women’s 6K race is scheduled for a 10 a.m. (CT) start at Percy Warner Park. Arkansas has won 13 SEC cross country titles since joining the league in 1991-92. The program’s last conference title came during the 2008 season. On the heels of her performance at the Oct. 13 Chile Pepper Festival, Andrina Schlaepfer was named the Co-SEC Freshman of the Week. It was her third honor of the season. In the most recent USTFCCCA rankings, Arkansas is No. 12 nationally and remains the top-ranked team in the South Central region.

    Auburn

    Auburn heads into the 2012 SEC Cross Country championships on Friday fully healthy for the first time this season … The Tigers will have nine men and nine women competing … The women are hoping to improve upon a 10th place finish from a season ago … In Mark Carroll’s three previous seasons, the women have finished 7th (twice) and 10th … The men are trying to improve upon an eight-place finish from 2011 … The men have finished 3rd, 10th and 8th under Carroll … Last year’s top finishers Alissa Fisher and Kane Grimster return for both sides … The men enter the meet ranked fifthi n the south region, while the women are ranked 15th … Auburn’s women have never finished the cross country championships higher than 2nd (1995), while the men were SEC champions in 1946, 1948, 1955, 1964 and 1979-80.

    Florida

    This week, the Gator cross country squads will head to Nashville, Tenn., Oct. 26 for the 2012 SEC Championships at Percy Warner Park. At the 2011 league meet, hosted by Tennessee, UF’s men placed second for their highest league finish since 2007, while the women turned in a third-place finish at SECs last year. The Orange and Blue own eight SEC Titles combined, three for the men (1955, 1986, 1987) and five for the women’s team (1984, 1996, 1997, 2009, 2010). Last year, UF had six All-SEC selections (three men & women) and four runners named to the SEC All-Freshman Team (three men, one female), while current sophomore men’s runner Jimmy Clark was the 2011 SEC Male Freshman of the Year. UF will be looking to make it 16 straight top-five finishes on the men’s side, while the women will be aiming for a fifth-consecutive top-three finish in Nashville. The Gators were last in action Oct. 13 at Pre-Nationals, where both teams had impressive, top-10 showings, as the women checked in ninth overall in the field of 38 teams, while the men were 10th of 40 men’s seeded teams. Four Gator men’s runners cruised to career-best 8K marks, while the ladies registered five collegiate best 6K times after last Saturday’s competition. Florida junior Mark Parrish led the way on the men’s side with a 16th-place overall finish with the second-fastest 8K time in the SEC so far this season, while Florida senior Florence Ngetich was 24th in the women’s 6K field as Florida’s first scorer. For all the latest on Florida cross country, follow the Gators on Twitter @GatorZoneXCntry and @GZTrackField, as well as on Facebook.

    Georgia

    Men - The 28th-ranked Bulldogs come into the SEC Championships on a roll after taking 18th versus a loaded field at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational in Madison, Wisc., on Oct. 12.  Senior Matt Cleaver, who has won the league's last two steeplechase crowns on the track, led Georgia with a 46th-place finish after clocking a time of 24:00 on the 8k course.  Only ninth-ranked Arkansas is ahead of Georgia in the polls from the SEC with Texas A&M one spot behind the Bulldogs at 29th.  With Cleaver leading the way in 2011, all five of the scorers at last year's SEC meet are returning for another round this year after the team was third last season.  Cleaver earned Second Team All-SEC honors with an eighth-place finish on Tennessee's course in 2011 as fellow seniors Brett Richardson and Brian Detweiler were 15th and 18th, respectively.  Junior Brandon Lord also was a Second Team All-SEC member after taking 10th last season as teammate Luke Baker was 17th at the conference showdown.  The Bulldogs have already sent a group to race at the Percey Warner Park in Nashville once this season, but it was mostly underclassmen who will not be making the trip to Vanderbilt's campus this week.  While Georgia cross country coach Patrick Cunniff accompanied those team members to the Commodore Classic in mid-September, this will be his first SEC Championships as Georgia's coach.  However, Cunniff did compete for the Bulldogs from the 1988 cross country season until the 1991 track and field season.  The gun will fire for the men's 8k race at noon ET. Women - The Lady Bulldogs arrive at the postseason with momentum behind them.  Georgia improved on its finish at the 2011 Wisconsin adidas Invitational by eight spots to take 29th against a nationally-ranked field in Madison, Wisc., on Oct. 12.  Senior captain Morgan VanGorder, who won the season-opening Georgia Invitational in Athens, finished second for her team with an 87th-place finish in the 6k race with a time of 20:45 behind sophomore Carly Hamilton (74th-20:41).  Senior Leslie Boozer, junior Bret McDaniel and junior Savannah Kirk finished in that order behind the first two Lady Bulldogs to put Georgia as the second SEC finisher at the Wisconsin meet.  Last year, the Lady Bulldogs were fourth at the SEC Championships behind Kristie Krueger's sixth-place finish to concluder her cross country career.  Boozer, sophomore Anna Bowles and senior Abbie Robinson, who also all scored at the 2011 league meet, are expected to be back in action for Georgia on Friday.  The women's 6k race is scheduled for 11 a.m. ET as the Lady Bulldogs attempt to advance to their first NCAA Championships since 2007 as the postseason begins.

    Kentucky

    Men - The Kentucky men’s team enters the SEC Championships led by Luis Orta. The Oct. 2 SEC Cross Country Athlete of the Week currently owns the third fastest 8K time in the conference this season (23:53.40 at Pre-Nationals). Orta, a 2011 First Team All-SEC runner, also boasts the third best 5K time in the SEC this season (15:16.70 at the Belmont Opener) in a race-winning performance. Matt Hillenbrand’s sixth-place time of 15:37.30 at the Belmont Opener stands as the seventh-fastest 5K time of all SEC runners in 2012. Women -  The Wildcats are led by Cally Macumber, who is the winner of the past two SEC Cross Country Athlete of the Week awards. She owns the fastest 5K and 6K times in the SEC this season. Both of those performances came against nationally-renowned fields at E.P. Tom Sawyer Park, which is the host course of this year’s NCAA Championships. Macumber has four top-10 finishes in as many meets this season, highlighted by a win at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational. Chelsea Oswald has displayed impressive consistency as she owns top-25 finishes in all four races she’s competed in this year. Oswald currently has the third and fourth fastest five and 6K times respectively in the SEC this season. Both Macumber and Oswald have placed inside the top-10 at three of the Wildcats’ four meets.

    LSU

    The LSU cross country teams wrapped up their regular season schedule by traveling to Fayetteville, Ark., to compete in the Chile Pepper Festival. The Lady Tigers, once again led by senior Laura Carleton, finished fourth overall at the meet, one of the highest place team finishes in school history. Carleton finished fourth overall, which is her third consecutive top five finish. For the Tigers, the team was led by senior Roger Cooke, in one of the most competitive races the team ran this season. The men finished 22nd overall in the meet. Both teams travel Nashville, Tenn., to participate in the SEC Championship race held at Percy Warner Park. The women will begin the day with their race beginning at 10 a.m. CDT followed by the men's race at 11 a.m.

    Ole Miss

    Men – The Rebel men are set to compete in the SEC Championships on Friday morning. The men finished seventh in last year’s meet. This season, the Rebels have been led by junior Max Holman, sophomore Loren Newsom and freshman Seumas O’Reilly. At last year’s meet, Holman finished in 33rd place, while Newsom came in 38th. Both men ran personal-best times. O’Reilly, who will be racing at his first SEC Championship, has the top four-mile time of all SEC freshmen. The Rebels will need a strong performance from senior Riley Young, who scored points for the Rebels at last season’s meet. The men will return all runners that competed in the 2011 meet with the exception of Martin Kirui and Kipchirchir Kiptoo. Kirui came in ninth place and earned All-SEC accolades last season. Women – The Ole Miss women, ranked No. 5 in the South Region, are set to participate in the SEC Championships on Friday morning. The Rebels are hoping to repeat the success they had at last year’s meet. The Ole Miss women earned their best finish in school history with a fifth-place showing at the 2011 SEC Cross Country Championships. Senior Katie Breathitt finished with a personal-best time and a 15th-place finish in last year’s meet, just one spot shy of earning All-SEC recognition. Breathitt has led the Ole Miss women all season. The Lexington Ky., native currently has the fourth-best 5K time in the SEC. The Rebels have also had strong performances from fellow seniors Anne Threlkeld and Kelsey Breathitt, Katie’s twin sister, this season. Threlkeld had a 46th-place finish in 2011, also racing to a personal-best time. Kelsey Breathitt finished 59th overall in the meet. Juniors Amy McCrory and Kayleigh Skinner finished 45th and 47th, respectively. McKenna Coughlin, Haley Cutright and Tia Leake also competed in the championships for the Rebels. The Rebels will return all runners that competed in last year’s meet with the exception of Logan Waites and Elise Luers. Waites finished 14th overall and earned All-SEC recognition in 2011.
     
    Mississippi State

    The Bulldog squads head to Nashville this week for the 2012 SEC Cross Country Championships on Friday at Vanderbilt. After a pair of Top-5 finishes earlier this season at the Commodore Classic, the Mississippi State men's and women's cross country teams will seek to have another strong finish on the course at Vaughn's Gap in Percy Warner Park. Last year the teams left SECs with ninth-place finishes, which serves as motivation to execute their goals at this year's championships. Both teams have knocked out numerous SEC foes at various competitions this season, proving that they are capable of success in Nashville. The Lady Bulldogs have crossed the line ahead of Alabama at three meets this season, while also beating Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Tennessee at other races. On the men's side, they have out-raced Alabama twice this season, along with wins over Ole Miss and Tennessee at the Crimson Classic and LSU, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt at the Commodore Classic. Mississippi State is coming off a two-week break from competition, after a confidence-boosting finish earned by a pair of Top-3 places in Tuscaloosa on Oct. 13. Paced by seniors Renee Masterson and Philip Johnson, the MSU squads will set out to seize convincing finishes in the 6K and 8K races on Friday. Action will begin at 10 a.m. for the women, followed by the men's race at 11 a.m.

    Missouri

    Men – The Mizzou Men are preparing to enter their first SEC Championship meet after a very successful season under Head Coach Joe Lynn.  The Tigers broke into the USTFCCCA National Rankings for the first time since 2001, coming in at No. 30 after a 4th-place finish at the Greater Louisville Classic on September 29.  The squad has been led by senior Max Storms, who finished 49th at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational two weeks ago.  Juniors Merid Seleshi and Hayden Legg, sophomore Bryant Blahnik, and two-time SEC Freshman of the Week Tyler Schneider will also be looked to as consistent scorers for the Tigers.  The Men’s 8K will go off at 11:00 a.m. out of Percy Warner Park in Nashville, TN.  Women – The Lady Tigers are entering the final stretch of their first season under Head Coach Joe Lynn.  For their first SEC Championship meet, the women will look to senior Bailey Belvis to continue leading the way for the black and gold.  Sophomores Liz Reida, Alison Ross, Maria Effinger, Courtney Wood and Courtney Brown will also fight for spots as the squad’s consistent scorers.  The Women’s 6K will take off at 10:00 a.m. out of Percy Warner Park in Nashville, TN.

    South Carolina

    The Gamecocks will race at the 2012 SEC Championships on Friday at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Tenn. …The women's 6,000-meter race is slated to begin at 10 a.m. CT with the men's race to follow at 11…South Carolina enters the meet with some momentum as it is coming off a third-place finish in the unseeded black race at the NCAA Pre-Nationals…The Gamecocks jumped into the USTFCCCA Southeast Regional rankings at No. 8 after their performance at Pre-Nationals…Freshman Kayla Lampe won the meet with a personal record of 21:03.5…Lampe earned her second SEC Freshman of the Week honor of the season for her efforts…A native of Downingtown, Pa., Lampe will attempt to become the highest Gamecock finisher at the SEC Championships in school history…Jenny Lake owns the highest finish, a seventh-place showing at the 2003 SEC Championships in Athens, Ga. …Senior Chelsea France will also be expected to lead the way Friday after posting finishes of second, 15th and 10th in three meets this season…As a team, the Gamecocks will try to best the fifth-place finish the 1999 squad recorded at the SEC Championships, which were also held at Percy Warner Park…The Gamecocks placed three runners – Sara Hadwin (11th), Joyce Peebles (12th) and Katie Orr (19th) – in the top 20 that season.

    Tennessee

    The Tennessee cross country squads will make their return to Nashville this Friday for the 2012 Southeastern Conference Cross Country Championships. The meet will take place at Percy Warner Park and will be hosted by Vanderbilt. The women’s 6,000-meter race is scheduled for a 10 a.m. CT start, while the men’s 8K will commence at 11 a.m. CT. All season, the Vols have been led by newcomer Peter Okwera, who is coming off a seventh place finish at the Alabama Crimson Classic two weeks ago. UT had three runners finish in the top 20 for the men, with juniors Stephen Derlath and Jordan Chaney placing 11th and 20th, respectively. The Vols’ Austin Whitelaw and Kyle Walter have also produced points for UT all season. The Big Orange men, which were slated to finish eighth in the preseason coaches’ poll, have won a league-best 25 cross country titles, but have not taken home the hardware since 1990. Led by freshman Alexis Panisse and senior Kelsey Kane, the Lady Vols enter the championship portion of the season riding a second place finish at the Crimson Classic. Panisse shattered her personal 5K record by navigating the course in 17:42.15 to take second place at the event, while Kane clocked a PR and finished 11th. The Lady Vols, which were predicted to finish ninth in the preseason poll, have five league titles and earned a seventh place finish last season. The Lady Vols have five SEC titles in program history – all coming under J.J. Clark. This marks Clark’s 21st SEC Cross Country Championship meet as a full-time coach, including 10 season at Florida and 11 at Tennessee.

    Texas A&M

    Texas A&M cross country will contest its first-ever SEC Championship meet this Friday at the Percy Warner Park course in Nashville. Aggie senior Henry Lelei leads the A&M men’s squad that is currently ranked No. 29 in the nation. After winning the 2010 NJCAA title while at Central Arizona, Lelei placed ninth in the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships last fall. Lelei, who has earned SEC Runner of the Week honors in each of the three meets he has run this season, leads the conference at three different race distances – 6,000 meters (16:25), 5 miles (23:36) and 8,000 meters (23:26). Last season Lelei placed third in the Big 12 conference meet, earning the top newcomer award in addition to All-Big 12 honors, as the Aggies finished fourth as a team. Lelei went on to win the NCAA South Central region title while A&M finished second as a team to earn an automatic qualification to the NCAA Championship field. The Aggie men return six of their top seven finishers from last year’s conference meet. Following Lelei are MacLean O’Donnell, James Hodges, Stephen Curry, Isaac Spencer, and C.J. Brown. Hodges has been the second A&M runner behind Lelei in recent meets, placing 18th and 70th at Notre Dame and Wisconsin. Last season, though, in the Big 12 race O’Donnell finished 21st overall as the third Aggie with Hodges 28th as the fourth A&M runner while Curry was the fifth scorer in 36th place. The Aggie women were sixth a year ago in the ten-team Big 12, led by a 12th place finish from Natosha Rogers, who has not competed in cross country for A&M this fall. Returning this season are five runners who contested the conference meet last season, which includes Hillary Montgomery, Shawn Dalglish, Tara Upshaw, Grace Fletcher and Gabby Salazar. However, two runners who have led the Aggies this season – Sophie Blake and Amanda Jenkins – didn’t run at the conference meet a year ago. Blake paced the A&M squad during early season meets over 4,000 meters at Baylor and Rice, while Jenkins has led the squad over 6,000-meter courses at Notre Dame and Wisconsin.

    Vanderbilt

    Men - The Vanderbilt men's cross country team is set to run the SEC Championships on its home course this Friday, October 26. The Commodores enter the league race coming off a fourth place finish at the Evansville Invitational, where sophomore John Ewing led the way with a time of 26:32.98 in the 8K race. Ewing finished 15th and was immediately followed across the line by Alan Ash (26:50.83) and Joel Jones (26:54.12). Ewing will look to pace the Commodores at the league meet for the second-straight season. He placed 53rd at last year's league meet. The Commodores have run the 8K course at Percy Warner Park once this season, placing 17th at the Commodore Classic in September, including topping SEC foe LSU, which was 19th. Matthew Cleveland led the way in that race (73rd), while Ewing was also in the top-100 (94th; 26:43.08). In three previous SEC Championships at Percy Warner Park, the Vanderbilt men have placed eighth (1978), tenth (1987) and ninth (1999). The men's 8K race on the Vaughn's Gap Course at Percy Warner Park in Nashville begins at 11:00 a.m. CT. Women - The Vanderbilt women's cross country team will look to defend the SEC title on its home course on Friday, October 26, when the SEC Championships come to Nashville's Percy Warner Park. As has been the case all season, Vanderbilt will be led by the trio of Liz Anderson, Kristen Findley and Kristen Smith. Anderson and Findley are coming off finishes of 36th and 37th, respectively, as the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, which featured 20 of the nations top-30 teams. Anderson was also the top Vanderbilt finisher at Percy Warner for the Commodore Classic in September, placing third in the 6K race with a time of 21:08.80. The key for Vanderbilt will be how well the fourth and fifth runners place. For that group, look to some combination of Jordan White (First Team All-SEC in 2011), Kristen Smith (Second Team All-SEC in 2011), Hannah Jumper (won 2012 Belmont Opener at Percy Warner) or a trio of runners who earned SEC All-Freshman honors in 2011 - Grace Orders, Rebecca Chandler and Amira Joseph. If the Commodores successfully defend their title, they will become the first Vanderbilt team since women's soccer in 1993 and '94 to win back-to-back league championships. The women's 6K race on the Vaughn's Gap Course at Percy Warner Park in Nashville begins at 10:00 a.m. CT.