Bulldogs Win NCAA South Regional Cross Country Championships
Ala. - The Georgia men edged Florida by a point to clinch the team
title at the NCAA South Regional Cross Country Championships and a spot
at the NCAA Championships at the Harry Pritchett Cross Country Course
in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Friday.
The Bulldogs had three
individual finishers in the top 10 and scored 72 points in their first
10k of the season to beat the Gators (73) by a point. Florida State
(101), Auburn (117) and Tennessee (181) rounded out the top three.
This marks the second time the Georgia men have captured an NCAA Regional title and the first time since 2003.
Georgia women raced in their 6k after the men’s race and finished sixth
with 175 points. Coming into the meet ranked ninth in the latest U.S.
Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA)
South Region poll, the Lady Bulldogs finished behind meet champion
Florida State (35), Vanderbilt (116), Alabama (143), Florida (153) and
Ole Miss (169).
The two top teams from each of the nine regions
automatically advanced to the NCAA Championships, which are in Terre
Haute, Ind., on Nov. 23. Individually, the top four finishers who were
not on a qualifying team (automatic or at-large) are also expected to
receive an invitation to Nationals. In addition, there will be 13
at-large team bids for each gender and one at-large individual bid for
“This was a great day for the University of Georgia
cross country and track and field program,” said Bulldog distance coach
Patrick Cunniff. “It was great not just because we won, but because we
had 14 incredible individuals running and competing for us. They
represented the Bulldogs with pride and I am proud of their efforts.”
Luke Baker, who has now led Georgia in its last three meets, matched
his performance at the Southeastern Conference Championships two weeks
after taking fourth with a 29:53.46. Not far behind him, senior Brandon
Lord battled for a seventh-place finish and senior Charlie Sparks
surged to a 10th-place finish to pace the Bulldog attack.
very exciting to have these results on the men’s side,” Cunniff said
“We had a plan that everyone believed in and everyone on this team ran
hard to the finish. We pulled this race out during the last (two to
three kilometers), which shows our preparation all year paid off. “Our
three seniors defined what type of leaders they are and all showed
character. Luke continued his solid streak of leading us for three
consecutive meets after also taking fourth place at SECs. Brandon has
been battling some health problems which had been bugging him and
rallied for seventh place. And Charlie Sparks was incredible since he
worked his way from being the 50s all the way to 10th place when he
crossed the line.”
Unable to finish the last two races, junior
Carly Hamilton raced to a 15th-place finish for the Lady Bulldogs after
crossing the finish line in 20:38.87. Senior Nicole DiMercurio had the
best Regionals finish of her life to take 25th while junior Bret
McDaniel made her debut at the meet and scored in a 38th-place finish.
results from the women’s race weren’t perfect, but at least our entire
team came to race and fought the entire way,” said Cunniff. “Everyone
gave it their best effort. We proved today that our finish at the SEC
Championships was not an accurate snapshot of what this team truly is.”
the opening race of the day, the Bulldogs slipped into third place
behind the leader by more than 100 points after 2k. Between the 4k and
6k, Georgia cut the lead to just 18 points as Sparks shot from a spot
in the mid-50s to 25th place. In the final 4k, Sparks moved all the way
to 10th place as Lord and Baker established their spots in the top
Lord, who led Georgia in its first two meets including a
win at the season opener, registered a time of 30:08.61 to give him a
pair of top-10 finishes at Regional meets. Sparks clocked a 30:18.76 to
post his career-best performance by 11 spots.
The Bulldogs final
two scorers were juniors Zack Sims and Brendan Hoban. Sims crossed the
finish line in 30:37.47, which cut his 40th place in 2012 in half for
20th-place honors. Running for the first time at Regionals, Hoban took
31st with a time of 30:53.40.
On the women’s side, DiMercurio
was 25th out of 194 competitors after recording a finish of 20:52.49.
McDaniel, who led the Lady Bulldogs at the SEC meet (18th), was 38th
with a 21:05.95 on Friday.
The final two scorers for the Georgia
women were senior Stella Christoforou and junior Erika Ramsey.
Christoforou trimmed 25 spots off of her finish last year thanks to a
time of 21:20.01. Ramsey ran at the Regional meet for the first time
and completed the course in 21:26.84.
The Georgia men will now
make their third consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships. Last
season, the Bulldogs posted the best finish in school history at the
national meet (19th).
Full results and the recap from the NCAA South Regional Championships will be found at georgiadogs.com.
TEAM RESULTS (TOP 10)
1. GEORGIA – 72
2. Florida – 73
3. Florida State – 101
4. Auburn – 117
5. Tennessee – 181
6. Lipscomb – 199
7. Mississippi State – 242
8. Belmont – 253
9. Mississippi – 255
10. Georgia Tech – 263
1. Florida State – 35
2. Vanderbilt – 116
3. Alabama – 143
4. Florida – 153
5. Mississippi – 169
6. GEORGIA – 175
7. Mississippi State – 198
8. Lipscomb – 223
9. Tennessee – 231
10. Auburn - 303
BULLDOG INDIVIDUAL RESULTS
4. Luke Baker – 29:53.46
7. Brandon Lord – 30:08.61
10. Charlie Sparks – 30:18.76
20. Zack Sims – 30:37.47
31. Brendan Hoban – 30:53.40
35. Steven Spevacek – 30:57.65
71. Sid Vaughn – 31:43.70
WOMEN 15. Carly Hamilton – 20:38.87
25. Nicole DiMercurio – 20:52.49
38. Bret McDaniel – 21:05.95
51. Stella Christoforou – 21:20.01
57. Erika Ramsey – 21:26.84
61. Savannah Kirk – 21:29.82
107. Marrion Kalafut – 22:06.46