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    Saturday SEC Cross Country Results

    Lord, DiMercurio Lead Bulldogs at Cross Country's Home Opener

    BISHOP, Ga. --- Seniors Brandon Lord and Nicole DiMercurio each won individually and helped the Bulldogs sweep the Georgia Cross Country Invitational for the fifth consecutive year in Bishop, Ga., on Saturday morning.
    The UGA men had the first, second, fourth, fifth and ninth finishers on the 8k course to score 21 points and top Georgia Tech, Mercer and Emmanuel College.  On the women’s side, DiMercurio cruised to her first collegiate victory as the Lady Bulldogs went first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth on the 5k course to score 18 points and leave the competition behind.
    "I think it was a solid start for both the men and the women,” said Bulldog distance coach Patrick Cunniff.  “Much like we expected, a couple of our seniors and older runners were able to lead the team.  Seeing Brandon Lord and Nicole DiMercurio get the wins in their races was great for them.  I thought we showed pretty good depth.  I'm a little worried about some of the gaps, but hopefully we'll get some people a little more experienced and a little more training so that they'll be able to handle that.  
    “The challenge for both the men and the women is now to handle bigger races and better competition.  As the women move up to 6k and the men to a 10k, the key is going to be finishing strong in the last part of the race." 
    Cunniff added that the goal for Saturday’s races was to ease into the first portion of the course and close strongly.
    "The strategy was to go out very conservatively and really work hard the last two miles for the men and one mile for the women,” said Cunniff.  “I think we did that pretty well, but I think the one thing we saw is that with the high humidity, some people may have gone out under control but still struggled at the end."
    The first race on the course that winds around the UGA Equestrian Complex was the men’s 8k.  Lord trimmed 27 seconds off his time last season and clocked a 25:49.17 for the win.  Not only did Lord win the 2012 meet, but he was also third in 2011 and was the second Bulldog to cross the finish line at last year’s NCAA Cross Country Championships where UGA finished a program best 19th.
    "It was a good race today,” Lord said.  “I'm glad that I had some momentum today.  I got a late start training for the season this summer, and I've just trying to get back into shape, so I've been pushing the training a whole lot.  It's nice to know that I can still have a good performance while training pretty hard.  As a team as well, it's the same situation.  Everyone is working hard right now, and those guys really put on a good show today.  We had a good group of guys up front for most of the race, which is exactly what we wanted to do.  We wanted to go out at a pretty moderate pace for the first three miles and then race the last two to see where everyone was with a little fatigue in them, and I think everyone handled that pretty well.  It was a good day overall, and I'm happy with it personally." 
    Six seconds behind Lord was fellow senior Luke Baker, who finished in 25:55.25 to improve his spot one place from 2012. 
    Trailing the pair of Bulldog seniors were another two Georgia upperclassmen.  Junior Zack Sims posted the first top-10 performance of his career to take fourth with a mark of 26:03.72.  Opening his career in 2010 with a ninth-place finish at this meet, senior Charlie Sparks took fifth for the second season in a row after finishing in 26:08.52.
    The Bulldogs’ final scorer on the day was 2011 All-SEC Freshmen team member Brendan Hoban.  Hoban was ninth overall thanks to a time of 26:24.32.
    The Georgia women, who advanced last year to their first NCAA Championships since 2007, cruised to a convincing win in their season opener.  DiMercurio posted the best performance of her career by running past the 73 other competitors in the field and winning by 15 seconds.  The Suwanee, Ga., native clocked an 18:28.00 after taking fifth at last year’s meet. 
    "It felt really good,” said DiMercurio.  “It was nice to get out here with the whole team.  We have a bunch of freshmen, so it was really nice to get out on the course and see how the rest of the season is going to go moving forward.  As for me, I'm just focusing on staying strong and looking for the finish line."
    The Lady Bulldogs followed DiMercurio’s example and had four out of the next five finishers.  A 16th-place finisher at the 2012 UGA home meet, junior Erika Ramsey snagged runner-up honors this time around after Ramsey flew across the finish line in 18:43.02.  
    Georgia Tech had the third-place finisher before the UGA women battled for the next three spots.  Senior Savannah Kirk also had the top showing of her career after taking fourth (18:57.91).  Her previous best finish at the Georgia Cross Country Invitational was 12th in 2010, which was in her first collegiate meet.
    Seniors Stella Christoforou and Megan Malasarte, who are middle-distance runners, managed to also score the Lady Bulldogs.  Christoforou took fifth with a 19:02.96 as Malasarte was sixth with a 19:06.29.  This marked Malasarte’s first collegiate cross country meet as she has earned All-America honors in the 800-meter run on the track.
    The Bulldogs return to action at the Furman Cross Country Classic in Greenville, S.C., on Sept. 14. 

    Alabama Earns Split with Samford

    HOOVER, Ala. – The Alabama cross country teams opened the 2013 season by winning winning the women’s race and finishing second in the men's race in a dual meet with Samford on Saturday morning at Veterans Park Saturday morning.
    The Crimson Tide women's team had an impressive season opener, taking the first seven places in the race of slightly more than two miles distance while dominating. Alabama finished perfect with 15 team points to Samford's 50.
    “I was very pleased with how our women's team competed and performed,” UA head track and field/cross country coach Dan Waters said. “Both of our teams showed good fitness and I was pleased with our ability to execute our race plans.
    "Obviously, we expected to win both races. I thought the men's team did a good job of executing the plan and keeping the pack together, but I was disappointed that we didn't win the race. I have to give Samford a lot of credit for how they competed.”
    Alabama was led by Meropi Panagiotou's victory in a time of 11 minutes, 22.76 seconds, just slightly ahead of the Tide's Katelyn Greenleaf (11:22.88). Freshman Hilary Stafford had an impressive debut for Alabama to take third place (11:23.45) with Rebecca Stover fourth (11:27.81) and Abigail Tankersley fifth (11:28.62). 
    The Tide men's team lost a close verdict to the Bulldogs in the 5-kilometer race, 29-30, despite executing their race plan by staying tightly pack to maximize scoring. but Samford was strong back in the pack and used that advantage to squeak past the Tide. The Tide men stayed together rather than racing out the last 200 meters. “Keeping a controlled effort and working as a pack was more important today than racing out the last couple of hundred meters just to win,” said Tide distance coach Adam Tribble. “The efforts overall were good. It’s another good step in the right direction.”
    Samford's Layton Dorsett took the individual title in 16:27.13 over the 5k course as the Bulldogs took the first three places. Justin Ahalt was Alabama's first finisher, taking fourth in 16:31.59. Alabama runners took fourth through 10th but Samford's ability to take the fourth and fifth-best scoring spots secured the victory for the Bulldogs.
    "What I take away from today is a good feel for where we are and what we have to work on," Waters said. "Our women's team is about where I hoped they would be. Our men's team is better than they showed today. But this is all something to build on for later in the season."
    After opening at home, the Tide takes to the road for its next competition when both the men and women travel to the Iowa Classic in Iowa City on September 13.


    MSU Cross Country Teams Sweep Season Opener In Memphis

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Under the lights of the Mike Rose Soccer Complex in Memphis, Tenn., the Mississippi State men’s and women’s cross country teams kicked off the 2013 campaign by sweeping the Memphis Twilight hosted by Christian Brothers University on Saturday night.

    Leading the way for the Mississippi State men was senior John Valentine, who captured the 4.2 mile run title with a time of 21:08.62, with fellow senior Juan Sanchex (21:52.07) following behind in seventh place. Junior Mike Clark (22:05.92) and sophomore Mathew Dunn (22:06.79) rounded out the top 15, finishing in the 14th and 15th positions, respectively. The men captured the win with 55 total points, beating out second place Morehead State, who finished with 60 points.

    “I am extremely proud of both of our squads for their performance tonight in Memphis,” head coach Houston Franks said. “Both of our squads ran at their best and picked up the wins, which is exactly the way you want to start out a season.”

    For the Lady Bulldogs, sophomore Cornelia Griesche (18:01.85) led the way with a fifth-place finish. Senior Katie Huston (18:02.89) followed closely behind in sixth, while juniors Emma Neigel (18:11.93) and Jodie McGuff (18:12.93) rounded out the top 10 at ninth and 10th, respectively. Despite not having a runner capture the individual women’s title, the Lady Bulldogs still took home the team title with a final total of 44 points. Southeastern Conference rival Ole Miss finished in second place with a total of 53 points.

    “It’s always great to have one of your squads capture a title, but when both your men’s and women’s teams do so, it makes you extremely proud as a coach,” Franks said.

    The MSU teams will now turn their focus to the Commodore Classic. The Vanderbilt-hosted event is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 14.


    Rebels Run Under The Lights In Season Opener
    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The young Rebel cross country squad put on their gear and ran under the lights for the first time this season at the Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic Saturday night.
    The meet was delayed due to heat and the running did not end until approximately 11:30 p.m.
    The Ole Miss women, who finished a program-high fourth place at the SEC meet last year, placed second in their season debut in Memphis.
    An all-freshman Lady Rebel contingent was led by the duo of Karlie Garcia, who finished third overall with a time of 17:32.72, and Sophie Linn, who finished seventh overall with a time of 18:03.80.
    "It was good to see Karlie get into the mix after starting the first part of the race playing catch-up because of a slow start," head coach Brian O'Neal said. "I thought Sophie looked good for her first competitive meet after missing the last year due to injury."
    The Rebel men were led by sophomore Ian Carter, who posted a fourth-place finish of 21:35.76, and freshman Arman Rehmann, who placed eighth in 21:55.22. The men finished fifth in the final team results.
    "It's good to see Ian Carter begin to turn the corner," O'Neal said. "I thought both Arman and he ran a solid race. "
    Both the men and women's Ole Miss cross country teams will head to Nashville, Tenn., for the Commodore Classic on Sept. 14, 2013.