CROSS COUNTRY: UGA Battles The Nation’s Best At NCAA Pre-Nationals

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CROSS COUNTRY: UGA Battles The Nation’s Best At NCAA Pre-Nationals

(Photo by John Kelley)
[su_spacer size=”20″] The Bulldog cross country teams battled some of the nation’s top teams in their final regular season meet of the year at the NCAA Pre-Nationals in Louisville, Ky., on Saturday.

The Bulldog men scored 807 points to finish 35th in the 8k race while the Georgia women tallied 1,226 points for 45th place during their 6k competition.

In the later open races, the Lady Bulldogs were third with 96 points and the Georgia men managed a seventh-place finish (166).

“We had a rough day overall,” said Georgia distance coach Patrick Cunniff.  “Our success this year will be measured by how we regroup, how we refocus for the two coming meets that matter the most.  I think this meet reminded us of what level the top NCAA cross country teams have risen to.”

“I did think (Zack Sims) did a really nice job on the men’s side and Bryan Kamau also ran a good race.  For the women, Kingsley Green had a great performance that sets her up for the coming meets and years.  We also had a big group of girls out of our 12 who were at or near their personal bests for a 6k.”

After redshirting the 2014 season, senior Zack Sims recorded his first top team finish for the Bulldogs since 2012.  Sims finished 108th after clocking a 24:21.1.  Next across the finish line was sophomore Bryan Kamau, who took 128th after running a time of 24:30.1.

Senior Steven Spevacek had a string of eight consecutive top finishes for the Bulldogs broken after crossing the line third for Georgia on Saturday.  Spevacek clocked a 24:31.9 for 134th place.  The final two finishers for the Bulldogs were junior Morgan Malanoski (207th – 24:59.1) and junior Jimmy Hicks (230th – 25:04.6).

The Lady Bulldogs’ top finisher at the E.P. Tom Sawyer Park was a true freshman who scored for the first time in her career.  Kingsley Green completed her laps in 21:57.6 to finish 229th in just her third collegiate race.  A redshirt freshman, Hailey Branch, was next across the line after running a 22:05.4 for 249th place.

Redshirt sophomore Morgan Green finished 253rd in the race that featured 311 finishers after registering a 22:07.1.  Four spots behind Green was sophomore Allie Castro, who was 257th with a 22:08.4.  Georgia’s fifth and final finisher was junior Lauren Kelly.  Kelly has scored at all three of her meets this year and was 258th at this competition after running a 22:08.5.

The Lady Bulldogs also had the following scorers during the open race: Sara Dort (34th – 22:30.9), Lauren Hovis (42nd – 22:43.2), Grace Tavani (57th – 22:50.0), Lara Way (62nd 9 22:58.2), Caroline Dickey (63rd – 22:59.8).

The Georgia men had the following five scorers in their open race: Daniel Navarro (36th – 25:21.0), Kisean Smith (62nd – 25:49.7), Michael Giuliano (64th – 25:50.6), Henry Dwyer (100th – 26:42.6) and Eric Westog (114th – 26:59.4).

Saturday’s race was a preview of the upcoming NCAA Cross Country Championships on the same course on Nov. 21.  The NCAA Pre-Nationals marked Georgia’s final preparation before the Southeastern Conference Championships arrive in College Station, Texas, on Oct. 30.

In order to earn another trip to Louisville, the Bulldogs will have to qualify at the NCAA South Regionals in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Nov. 13.  The Georgia men last advanced to the NCAA Championships in 2013 after both squads earned a spot at the 2012 Nationals.
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