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    Arkansas, Florida Win SEC Cross Country Titles

    By: Sean Cartell
    Twitter: @SEC_Sean
    SEC Digital Network

    Men's Results | Women's Results


    NASHVILLE -  The No. 9 Arkansas men and the No. 30 Florida women took home the 2012 Southeastern Conference team cross country championships on a chilly and rainy Friday at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Tenn., in the first SEC Championship event featuring new league members Missouri and Texas A&M.

    Arkansas claimed its third consecutive SEC men’s cross country team title and its 20th in the last 22 years. The Razorbacks placed three runners among the race’s top four and finished with a total team score of 35 points. No. 28 Georgia was second overall with 73 team points, while Missouri and No. 29 Texas A&M each tied for third with 80 team points.

    “I am awfully proud of them,” Arkansas head coach Chris Bucknam said. “We wanted to come in here and make a statement. This is the first of three legs in the championship season and this is really the most important one. The SEC Championship means a lot to our school, and when you win an SEC Championship in any sport, I think you’re special. I’m just proud of our guys for the effort that they put in today and all the hard work that they’ve done, and all my assistant coaches too, they’ve really helped prepare this team. I’m really proud of them.”

    Texas A&M’s Henry Lelei won the race in a time of 23:29.95, taking home the individual title in the Aggies’ first year as a member of the SEC. Arkansas’ Solomon Haile (23:47.27), Eric Fernandez (23:52.16) – the 2011 SEC Champion, and Kemoy Campbell (23:55.38) finished 2-3-4 overall. Georgia’s Matt Cleaver rounded out the men’s top five.

    “I came here today wanting to do nothing but win the race,” Lelei said. “That has been my plan since we joined the SEC, just to go and do my best. I think I did that today.”

    Florida captured its third SEC women’s team title in the last four years, by scoring 61 team points and being led by senior Florence Ngetich, who held a lead late in the race and ended up finishing second overall. No. 12 Arkansas, without the services of standout Semehar Tesfaye who had to drop out midway through the race, placed second overall with 70 team points, while host and No. 28 Vanderbilt placed third with 119 points.

    “They did a fabulous job,” said Paul Spangler, Florida assistant coach for distance and cross country. “They came in here with the belief they could win and it all came together on race day. I am extremely, extremely proud of them.”

    Kentucky’s Cally Macumber claimed the SEC women’s cross country individual title, becoming the first Wildcat to accomplish that feat since Valerie McGovern did so in 1989. Macumber edged out Ngetich (20:27.41) to win the race in a time of 20:23.29. Macumber’s teammate Chelsea Oswald finished third overall in a time of 20:35.03. Georgia’s Carly Hamilton and Arkansas’ Grace Heymsfield rounded out the top five.

    “Today it was more about strategy,” Macumber said. “I just tried to hang with the leaders and then try and kick. Thankfully I was able to do that. It’s a great feeling and I’m happy.”

    The NCAA Regional Championships take place Nov. 9 at a variety of regional sites across the country.

    For all of the latest information on SEC cross country, please log on to www.SECDigitalNetwork.com or follow @SEC_Sean.

    Women’s 6K:  1. Florida 61; 2. Arkansas 70; 3. Vanderbilt 119; 4. Ole Miss 122; 5. Kentucky 130; 6. Georgia 132; 7. LSU 199; 8. Texas A&M 224; 9. South Carolina 256; 10. Mississippi State 264; 11. Alabama 268; 12. Tennessee 285; 13. Missouri 296; 14. Auburn 378.

    Women’s Individual Top 10: 1. Cally Macumber (UK) 20:23.29; 2. Florence Ngetich (UF) 20:27.41; 3. Chelsea Oswald (UK) 20:35.03; 4. Carly Hamilton (UG) 20:39.11; 5. Grace Heymsfield (AR) 20:39.64; 6. Agata Strausa (UF) 20:40.96; 7. Hannah Jumper (VU) 20:41.72; 8. Kristen Findley (VU) 20:43.23; 9. Katie Breathitt (UM) 20:45.16; 10. Andrina Schlaepfer (AR) 20:54.37.

    Men’s 8K: 1. Arkansas 35; 2. Georgia 73; T3. Missouri 80; T3. Texas A&M 80; 5. Florida 121; 6. Kentucky 161; 7. Tennessee 217; T8. Mississippi State 237; T8. Auburn 237; 10. Ole Miss 305; 11. Alabama 309; 12. Vanderbilt 358; 13. LSU 378

    Men’s Individual Top 10: 1. Henry Lelei (A&M) 23:29.95; 2. Solomon Haile (AR) 23:47.27; 3. Eric Fernandez (AR) 23:52.16; 4. Kemoy Campbell (AR) 23:55.38; 5. Matt Cleaver (UG) 24:01.49; 6. Peter Okwera (UT) 24:04.97; 7. Mark Parrish (UF) 24:06.09; 8. Hayden Legg (MU) 24:08.24; 9. Max Storms (MU) 24:10.07; 10. Luis Orta (UK) 24:10.83.

    Men’s All-SEC First Team
    Henry Lelei, Texas A&M
    Solomon Haile, Arkansas
    Eric Fernandez, Arkansas
    Kemoy Campbell, Arkansas
    Matt Cleaver, Georgia
    Peter Okwera, Tennessee
    Mark Parrish, Florida

    Men’s All-SEC Second Team
    Hayden Legg, Missouri
    Max Storms, Missouri
    Luis Orta, Kentucky
    Bryant Blahnik, Missouri
    Layne Nixon, Arkansas
    Brandon Lord, Georgia
    Cale Wallace, Arkansas

    Men’s SEC All-Freshman Team
    Cale Wallace, Arkansas
    Joe McKenna, Missouri
    Evan Chiplock, Missouri
    Sid Vaughn, Georgia
    Tyler Schneider, Missouri
    Phil Duncan, Florida
    Steven Spevacek, Georgia

    Women’s All-SEC First Team
    Cally Macumber, Kentucky
    Florence Ngetich, Florida
    Chelsea Oswald, Kentucky
    Carly Hamilton, Georgia
    Grace Heymsfield, Arkansas
    Agata Strausa, Florida
    Hannah Jumper, Vanderbilt

    Women’s All-SEC Second Team
    Kristen Findley, Vanderbilt
    Katie Breathitt, Ole Miss
    Andrina Schlaepfer, Arkansas
    Diane Robison, Arkansas
    Laura Carleton, LSU
    Kayla Lampe, South Carolina
    Callie Cooper, Florida

    Women’s SEC All-Freshman Team
    Hannah Jumper, Vanderbilt
    Andrina Schlaepfer, Arkansas
    Kayla Lampe, South Carolina
    Katelyn Greenleaf, Alabama
    Shelby Davidson, Florida
    Alexis Panisse, Tennessee
    Julie Macedo, Florida

    Post-Meet Quotes

    Cally Macumber, Kentucky
    SEC Individual Women’s Champion


    On winning the SEC women’s individual cross country championship …
    “Today it was more about strategy. I just tried to hang with the leaders and then try and kick. Thankfully I was able to do that.”

    On becoming the first Kentucky runner since 1989 to win an SEC cross country title …
    “It’s a great feeling and I’m happy.”

    On the new coaching staff and finishing alongside teammate Chelsea Oswald …
    “Definitely a lot of new things have been happening and I think the future is looking really bright. Chelsea[Oswald], who got third, is amazing to train with and she pushes me so much.”

    On her race plan heading into the SEC Championships …
    “I just went out there and tried to do my best. We’ve been putting in all the training, so we were just ready to compete.”

    On her close finish with Florida runner Florence Ngetich …
    “In like the last 100, it kind of clicked and I thought I could get her. I just went for it and gave it all that I had.”

    Henry Lelei, Texas A&M
    SEC Individual Men’s Champion


    On winning the SEC men’s individual SEC cross country championship …
    “I came here today wanting to do nothing but win the race. That has been my plan since we joined the SEC, just to go and do my best. I think I did that today.”

    On what has been giving him confidence heading into Friday’s race …
    “I think all my races, I have been racing with the motivation of getting better, getting better. That’s the thing that has been giving me the strength and courage to go and do it.”

    On being winning the SEC individual title in Texas A&M’s first year in the SEC …
    “It was the best thing to win our first SEC conference championship; it’s really exciting.”

    Paul Spangler, Assistant Coach/Distance and Cross Country, Florida
    SEC Team Women’s Champion


    On Florida winning the 2012 SEC women’s cross country team championship …
    “They did a fabulous job. They came in here with the belief they could win and it all came together on race day. I am extremely, extremely proud of them.”

    On how Florida was able to execute to win the championship …
    “The athletes believed in themselves. We’ve talked about it all year. They set a goal for themselves to come in and win a conference championship. We talked about it last night just going out there, competing as a team, supporting each other and they just came out here and did what they could and I’m happy that they won.”

    On the training he has brought to Florida’s team in his first year as assistant coach for cross country …  
    “We do some things differently, but the main thing is that the athletes believe in what we’re doing. They believed it from day one, bought into the system and it paid off today. It shows that they’ve done a good job to get where they’re at.”

    On Florence Ngetich’s strong second-place finish …
    “Phenomenal job. She made a move with a mile to go; she really stuck her neck out there and took a chance. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to hold on there at the end. The Kentucky girl [Cally Macumber] did a fabulous job the last 100 meters. I am certainly proud of what she did to come in with second place and help lead the team.”

    On the confidence it gives Florida to win the SEC women’s cross country championship …
    “It gives us a lot of confidence. They know they’re one of the top teams in the country and I think we’re hitting on all cylinders at the right time. We’re going to the regional championships certainly with a lot of momentum and a chance to move on to the national championships.”

    Chris Bucknam, Head Men’s Coach, Arkansas
    SEC Team Men’s Champion


    On Arkansas winning the SEC men’s cross country team title …
    “I am awfully proud of them. We wanted to come in here and make a statement. This is the first of three legs in the championship season and this is really the most important one. The SEC Championship means a lot to our school, and when you win an SEC Championship in any sport, I think you’re special. I’m just proud of our guys for the effort that they put in today and all the hard work that they’ve done, and all my assistant coaches too, they’ve really helped prepare this team. I’m really proud of them.”

    On each of his three top runners having an impressive day …
    “Those three are awfully good and they’re talented, but it was really important for our next three to four guys to run well. I thought that we even had a better performance out of them than a few weeks ago at Wisconsin. It was a total-team effort, no question about that. I’m really pleased with Cale Wallace. He was the first freshman to cross the line. I think all five of our guys made either the first or second team All-SEC, so it was a complete team effort. It is always nice to have those three guys up front hammering it.”

    On what he learned about his team following Friday’s race …
    “Their body language was really important to me before and even after the race. We’re watching them carefully to see how they’re carrying themselves and, after this race, they looked like they were in control and composed, and not too spent physically. I thought that was a good sign and it bodes well for us in the future. We’re watching their body language and making sure that they didn’t overextend themselves, and I think we accomplished that. We won the race and we still have more to show.”

    On what the team victory means, coming against such a competitive field …
    “It’s really good to see Texas A&M in the league. They bring a lot to the table in track and field. They are one of the elite programs in the country and I think they proved that today with Henry [Lelei] winning. That sent a statement that they’re going to be a factor in the SEC. It raises the bar for all of us and makes our conference better. Missouri ran well, too. It’s a new era in the SEC. We’re glad we came out on top in such a tough field and we know we have a lot of tough races ahead of us.”