BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Five Southeastern Conference cross country teams and eight additional individuals embark on Terre Haute, Ind., this Saturday to participate in the NCAA Cross Country Championships. The NCAA Championships take place at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center with the men’s 10K race beginning at 12 p.m. ET and the women’s 6K race starting at 1:15 p.m. ET. Live coverage will be available at NCAASports.com.
The SEC men’s participating teams are No. 10 Arkansas, No. 29 Georgia and No. 30 Florida. The SEC women’s participating teams are No. 3 Arkansas and No. 25 Vanderbilt. Each of the five SEC teams participating in the NCAA Cross Country Championships earned automatic-qualifying spots by finishing among the top-two teams in their respective regions at the NCAA Regional Championships.
Participating men’s individuals include Ty McCormack (Auburn), Peter Okwera (Tennessee) and Isaac Spencer (Texas A&M). Participating women’s individuals include: Kaitlyn Fischer (Missouri), Cally Macumber (Kentucky), Cory McGee (Florida), Hillary Montgomery (Texas A&M) and Agata Strausa (Florida).
Thirty-one teams were selected to participate in each championship. The top two, seven-person teams automatically qualified from each of the nine regions, for a total of 18 teams. Thirteen additional teams were selected at-large.
Thirty-eight individuals were selected to participate in each championship through an automatic qualifier and at-large selection process. All individual qualifiers finished among the top 25 in their region.
The SEC has won eight NCAA Men’s Cross Country Championships, with Arkansas claiming seven and Tennessee winning one. The last SEC NCAA Championship came in 2000 with the Razorbacks capturing their third consecutive.
The SEC has won one NCAA Women’s Cross Country Championship, with Kentucky holding the only title, which the Wildcats won in 1988.
The defending NCAA Cross Country team champions are Oklahoma State (men) and Oregon (women).
Texas Tech’s Kennedy Kithuka (28:31.3) is the defending NCAA men’s cross country individual champion. Iowa State senior Betsy Saina won the women’s individual crown a year ago (19:27.9), but has completed her eligibility. The top returning woman from last season’s championship is Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino, who finished second a year ago (19:28.6).
The SEC’s top 10K time this season belongs to Arkansas’ Stanley Kebenei (29:41.30), who just barely edged teammate and 2013 SEC individual champion Kemoy Campbell for the NCAA South Central Regional title last weekend. The SEC’s top 6K time this season is held by Arkansas’ Grace Heymsfield (19:56.00), set at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational.
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• The SEC has won eight NCAA Men’s Cross Country Championships, with Arkansas claiming seven and Tennessee winning one. The last SEC NCAA Championship came in 2000 with the Razorbacks capturing their third consecutive.
• The SEC has won one NCAA Women’s Cross Country Championship, with Kentucky holding the only title, which the Wildcats won in 1988.
• The SEC boasts two NCAA Cross Country individual titles, as Godfrey Siamusiye of Arkansas won back-to-back national crowns in 1995 and 1996.
• No SEC woman has ever claimed an NCAA Cross Country individual championship. Four SEC women have finished as the NCAA runner-up: Shelly Steely, Florida (1984); Valerie McGovern, Kentucky (1989); Deena Drossin, Arkansas (1992) and Amy Yoder, Arkansas (1999).
• The Arkansas men are making their 43rd all-time appearance at the NCAA Cross Country Championships and second consecutive. The Razorbacks have claimed seven NCAA Men’s Cross Country national championships in their program’s history.
• The Florida men are making their 10th all-time appearance at the NCAA Cross Country Championships and first since 2011. The Gators’ highest-ever finish at the NCAA Championships was sixth in 1990.
• The Georgia men are making their fifth all-time appearance at the NCAA Cross Country Championships and third consecutive. The Bulldogs finished 19th at the national meet a year ago, marking the program’s highest-ever finish at the NCAA Championships.
• The Arkansas women are making their 26th all-time appearance at the NCAA Cross Country Championships and third consecutive. The Razorbacks will now have 21 NCAA Championship appearances in head coach Lance Harter’s 24-year tenure. Arkansas’ highest-ever finish at the NCAA Championships was second, on four occasions (1991, 1992, 1993, 1999).
• The Vanderbilt women are making their third all-time NCAA Championship appearance after making their first-ever showing in 2011. The Commodores finished a program-best sixth in 2011.