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    SEC Cross Country Weekly Notebook

    SEC Cross Country Weekly Notebook (Sept. 3, 2013)

    Alabama

    The Alabama cross country teams opened the 2013 season by 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. 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. 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.

    Arkansas

    Men - The Razorback men’s cross country team is set to begin its season on Friday evening at Agri Park in Fayetteville, to host a dual meet. Arkansas has been ranked the No. 5 team in the nation in the preseason poll. The Razorbacks have also been picked to win the Southeastern Conference. Women - The University of Arkansas women’s cross country team has been ranked No. 9 in the nation in the preseason poll. The Razorbacks are set to begin the season on Friday night at 6 p.m. at Agri Park in Fayetteville. Arkansas has also been tabbed to be the top team in the Southeastern Conference and compete for a conference championship.

    Auburn

    The Auburn cross country teams opened the 2013 season with a first-place team finish on the men's side, while the women finished second at the Trojan Invite hosted by Troy University .. It was the fourth consecutive team title for the AU men at the Trojan Invite … Junior Francis Hernandez led the Tiger men with a first-place overall finish in the 5k run with a time of 16:10.62 … Auburn had five top-10 finishers as Jason Miller finished fourth (16:41.84), Andrew Scott was fifth (16:46.90), Reid McClenny took ninth (17:07.46) and Hunter Hayes claimed 10th (17:07.81) … The men tallied 27 total points to claim the team title, outdistancing second place South Alabama who had 34 points. Troy (74 pts) was third followed by Alabama State (100) … In her first collegiate race, freshman Veronica Eder was the top Auburn women's finisher in the 3k race, taking third place in a time of 10:55.59 … Fellow freshman Rachel Givens took fourth in 10:56.46 while Sage Blackwell finished 10th (11:09.90) Kristin Sheehan (11:22.34) finished 14th and Emily Stevens (11:32.18) was 20th to round out the Tigers' top-20 finishers … The Tigers will return to action in two weeks as they travel to Gainesville, Fla., to compete in the Mountain Dew Invite.

    Florida

    UF’s men’s and women’s cross country squads kicked off the 2013 campaign with team victories on both sides at the Western Carolina Invitational Aug. 30. Next up, the Gators will host the 25th Annual Mountain Dew Invitational Sept. 14. The Mountain Dew Invite will be the first of two UF-hosted meets in 2013, as Florida will additionally play host to the 2013 SEC Championships Nov. 1 at the Gators’ Mark Bostick Golf Course. Men - The UF men’s squad also claimed the team title at the WCU Invite, using 28 points and four top-six scorers to seal the deal. Senior Mark Parrish led the way for the Orange and Blue with the ninth individual event victory of his career at Florida. Juniors Jimmy Clark, Eddie Garcia and J.L. Hines placed third, fourth and sixth, respectively. Freshman Carlos Miranda rounded out UF’s scoring corps in 14th following his first collegiate 5K. On the men’s side, five different UF runners improved their 5K marks from last year’s WCU Invite, while three others ran the first 5Ks of their Gator careers. Like the women, Friday’s team title for the men marked the third straight year UF has opened its season with a team victory in Cullowhee at the Western Carolina Invite. Women - Florida’s women’s squad captured the team title at the Western Carolina Invitational for the third straight year to open the fall campaign. The Gators put together a stellar race, turning in a perfect 15-point team score after claiming the first five spots in the field. Seniors Agata Strausa and Shelby Hayes led the way in first and second, while sophomore Julie Macedo, freshman Taylor Tubbs and senior Stephanie Strasser rounded out UF’s third, fourth and fifth-place finishers. Strausa claimed her second individual victory as a Gator, while Tubbs was the top freshman finisher in the field. Three Gators clocked personal best two-miles, while four others ran the first two-mile race of their careers at UF.

    Georgia

    Men - The Bulldogs opened their 2013 campaign by winning the Georgia Cross Country Invitational in Bishop, Ga., for the fifth straight year.  Senior Brandon Lord tallied his second consecutive victory at the meet after completing the 8k course in 25:49.17.  This marks the fifth time in his career that he has led the Bulldogs.  Georgia also finished with three more in the top five during Saturday morning's race.  Fellow senior Luke Baker, who was third at the meet last season, earned runner-up honors after crossing the finish line in 25:55.25.  Junior Zack Sims was next across the finish line with a time of 26:03.72 to take fourth with his top collegiate performance.  Taking fifth for the second season in a row was senior Charlie Sparks.  Sparks completed the course that winds around the UGA Equestrian Complex in 26:08.52.  Georgia's final scorer on the day was junior Brendan Hoban, who registered a 26:24.32 for ninth place.  The Bulldogs return to action at the Furman Cross Country Classic in Greenville, S.C., on Sept. 14. Women - The Lady Bulldogs also opened their 2013 campaign by winning the Georgia Cross Country Invitational in Bishop, Ga., for the fifth consecutive year.  Senior Nicole DiMercurio locked down her first collegiate cross country victory after crossing the finish line of the 5k course in 18:28.00.  This was a 15-second victory for the Suwanee, Ga., native.  Junior Erika Ramsey posted the best performance of her career to take second at the season opener.  Ramsey finished in 18:43.02.  Senior Savannah Kirk was next to finish for the Lady Bulldogs after clocking an 18:57.91 for fourth place.  A pair of senior middle-distance runners were the final two scorers for the Lady Bulldogs.  Stella Christoforou took fifth with a time of 19:02.96 while Megan Malasarte, who was running in her first collegiate cross country meet, took sixth with a 19:06.29.  Malasarte has established herself as an 800-meter All-American on the track.   The Lady Bulldogs return to action at the Furman Cross Country Classic in Greenville, S.C., on Sept. 14.

    Kentucky

    Kentucky cross country opened the season Friday at the Belmont Opener in Nashville, where the men defeated Vanderbilt, but lost to Tennessee and the women defeated Tennessee but dropped the dual to Vanderbilt. The UK women’s team was led by Cally Macumber who finished ninth with a time of 18:26.95. Allison Peare was 13th with a time of 18:36.44, and Anna Bostrom placed 16th with a time of 18:46.36. Macumber, Peare and Bostrom were all All-Southeast Region selections in 2012. The Wildcats were led by Matt Hillenbrand’s fifth place finish (15:52.75) on the men’s side. Hillenbrand covered the Percy Warner Park course in 15:52.75 to earn a top-4 finishing spot. Sophomore transfer Zack Beavin was the No. 2 Wildcat finisher, as he placed 14th with a time of 16:14.66. Kentucky’s next meet will be the program’s first home meet in more than a decade. The Bluegrass Cross Country Invitational will be held at Masterson Station Park on Saturday, Sept. 14 at 9:30 a.m. ET.

    LSU

    LSU’s cross country teams will open up the 2013 season on Saturday, Sept. 14, with a trip to Gainesville, Fla., to run the course at the Mark Bostick Golf Course at the Mountain Dew Invitational hosted by the University of Florida. When the Tigers and Lady Tigers open up the season, they will be led by a new coach as two-time Olympian Khadevis Robinson has joined Dennis Shaver’s staff as an assistant coach directing the cross country teams in the fall and the middle distance and distance groups on the track during the 2014 indoor and outdoor track and field seasons. Robinson joins the LSU staff in place of Mark Elliott, who was recently named the new director of track and field at Clemson University this summer. Robinson served in the same capacity at UNLV in 2011-12 and Ohio State in 2012-13 prior to his arrival in Baton Rouge this month. Robinson is also one of the most decorated middle distance runners in the history of USA Track & Field as an eight-time U.S. champion in the 800 meters following a brilliant collegiate career at TCU where he was crowned the 1998 NCAA Outdoor champion. He has also represented the United States at the Olympic Games in 2004 in Athens, Greece, and 2012 in London, England.

    Ole Miss

    Men - Ole Miss, ranked eighth in the South Region in the preseason USTFCCCA poll, began the 2013 campaign at the Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic on Saturday. Competing without a couple of the team’s top runners, the Rebels turned in a fifth-place result in the 4-mile event and 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. Other runners included freshman Jon Luke Watts, senior Max Holman, freshman Will Spiers, freshman Ben Pleak, junior Ryan Smith and senior Alex Nichols. The meet was delayed due to heat and the running did not end until approximately 11:30 p.m. Ole Miss will next head to Nashville, Tenn., for the Commodore Classic on Sept. 14. Women - The Ole Miss women, who entered the season ranked fifth in the South Region in the preseason USTFCCCA poll, placed second in their season debut at the Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic on Saturday. An all-freshman Lady Rebel contingent in the 5K event 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. Saga Barzowski finished 11th (18:23.41), Annie Kelly was 15th (18:35.35) and Haley Ward was 17th (18:41.28) as the Rebels had five runners finish top 20. The meet was delayed due to heat and the running did not end until approximately 11:30 p.m. The prospects are high for the Rebel women this season as returning leaders Kayleigh Skinner and Haley Cutright will guide the talented freshman class in hopes of improving on their fourth-place SEC finish a year ago, which was the best in program history. Ole Miss will next head to Nashville, Tenn., for the Commodore Classic on Sept. 14.

    Mississippi State

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

    Missouri

    The Tigers officially open their season this week down in Fayetteville with a dual against Arkansas.  The men begin their season after receiving votes in the USTFCCCA Preseason Rankings for the first time since 2008.  Despite losing Max Storms, who led the Tigers last year and finished out his career at the NCAA Championships, the Tigers are looking as strong as ever under the leadership of key returners senior Hayden Legg and sophomores Tyler Schneider, Evan Chiplock, and Joe McKenna.  The women are also without their top finishers from last year with the graduation of both Bailey Belvis and Kaitie Vanatta.  But the young team has plenty of experience to look toward with returning juniors Liz Reida, Maria Effinger, Courtney Brown, and Ali Ross.

    South Carolina

    The Gamecocks took second in the season-opening Carolina Challenge, ran at Hilton Field on Fort Jackson in Columbia, just two points away from a meet win. The showing, coming without two of South Carolina's top returners, came thanks to strong performances from a trio of freshmen who scored for the Gamecocks. Mary Reiser and Martha McCoy both finished in the top 10, coming in third and fourth on the team, and Melanie Ng (14th) was a part of a quartet of Gamecocks that finished 10-14. Junior Meredith Mill, who led the race near the halfway point, ranked as the top runner for the Gamecocks and narrowly missed her fastest 5K time of her collegiate career with a 18:49.26, finishing fourth overall. Senior Penny Boswell just nipped Reiser for seventh (19:08.19), while sophomores Christine Kent and Brandy Wybersky finished as part of the flock of Gamecocks in the 19:33 range in 12th and 13th, respectively. After this top seven, if South Carolina would have designated a "B" team, the next group would have finished in fifth as a team, showing the strong depth that assistant track coach Andrew Allden has talked about most of the fall. The Gamecocks host the first of its two Gamecock Invitationals this Friday at Hilton Field again.

    Tennessee

    The Tennessee men's and women's cross country teams got their seasons underway last weekend at the Belmont Opener in Nashville, Tenn. Both teams are back in action Sept. 14 at the Gator Cross Country Invitational in Gainesville, Fla. Men – Peter Okwera earned his first collegiate race victory at the Belmont Opener. With a sprint to the finish line, Okwera held off Belmont's Matt Miller to win the extended 5k in 15:41.85. The Vols had five runners place in the top 20: Okwera (1), Kyle Walter (6), Stephen Derlath (9), Austin Whitelaw (15), J.R. Creekmore (19). Women -- Freshman Emily Williams led the UT women in her career debut, finishing 17th at Belmont in 18:49.05. Sophomore Alexis Panisse was 28th.

    Texas A&M

    Men – The Aggies started the 2013 season with a fourth-place finish at the Bear Twilight, scoring 109 points in finishing behind North Texas (37), Texas (48) and host Baylor (70). A&M bettered Houston (114), TCU (156) and Texas State (171). Leading the Aggie crew was Micah Dettmer and Austin Geerts in 14th and 15th place with times of 19:18.5 and 19:21.6, respectively, on the 6,000-meter flat course. Rounding out the scoring five for A&M were Jake Roberts (22, 19:29.6), Aaron Murray (28, 19:44.9) and Bobby Zeller (37, 19:56.6). The bulk of the team will compete in Houston on Sept. 13 at the Rice Invitational. Women – A fourth-place finish with 142 points had the Aggie women finishing behind host Baylor (25), SMU (30) and Texas (84) in the Bear Twilight. A&M bettered North Texas (156), Houston (175), Texas State (176) and TCU (216). Lauren Fontana placed 28th in leading the Aggie squad with a time of 14:59.9 on the 4,000-meter course. Middle distance runner Ashley Chamberlain fared well in her first-ever cross country race, running 15:02.7 for 33rd, with Johanna Galloway 34th in 15:03.4. The next pair of A&M runners to complete the team score included Katie Willard (39, 15:06.7) and Meredith Gleitz (42, 15:11.8). The Rice Invitational in Houston on Sept. 13 will be the next meet for the Aggies.

    Vanderbilt

    The Vanderbilt's men's and women's cross country team opened the season at the Belmont Opener. Running on their home course at Percy Warner Park the women's team claimed second in the team competition with five Commodores finishing in the top 15. Sophomore Vanessa Valentine led the way running 18:25.20 over the 5K course. Freshman Courtney Kriegshauser was the second Dore across the line in her first collegiate race. On the men's side, freshman Jake Van Geffen paced the squad with a time of 16:52.84. Both of Vanderbilt's teams return to action September 14 back at Percy Warner Park for the Commodore Classic.