Seventeen members of the UGA cross country teams will travel to Greenville, S.C., on Friday in preparation for Saturday morning’s 45th-annual Gene Mullin Invitational.
What & When: Eight collegiate teams will meet the Bulldogs and meet host Furman at the school’s University Golf Course. The women’s 5k starts the day at 8:30 a.m. and will be followed by the men’s 5k at 9 a.m.
Who The Dawgs Are Traveling: The Bulldog men are traveling senior Terrell Estime, junior Jeramey Hampton, redshirt sophomores Jonathan Pelham, Ryan Peppenhorst, redshirt freshmen Jack Bradley, James Gildard, Parker Nail, Davis Stockwell and freshmen Darr Smith and Ryne Bevan to the team’s fourth regular season meet.
The Lady Bulldogs have selected senior Allie Castro, juniors Lauren Hovis, Caroline Dickey, sophomores Ansley Heavern, Tiffany Yue and freshmen Millie Bergey and Emma Maisel to make the trip across the state border.
Ranked & Recognized: Both UGA squads surged in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) polls this week. While the men moved from seventh to fifth in the South Region poll, the women shot from sixth in the South Region poll to second. The Lady Bulldogs also grabbed their first national ranking since 2012, taking over the 25th spot. This is their top ranking since checking in at 13th in 2007.
Georgia is coming off of two top-12 team finishes at the Paul Short Run in Bethlehem, Pa., last weekend versus teams from across the country. The Georgia women finished third thanks to having four finishers in the top 50, including sophomore Jessica Drop who was third overall. Drop was named the Southeastern Conference Women’s Runner of the Week for the second time this year for her efforts.
The Bulldog men tied for 12th as senior Bryan Kamau led his squad for the ninth meet in a row, finishing 30th overall.
As the season comes into its final meet, Georgia is working towards a strong showing at the SEC Championships, which will be at the UGA Golf Course in Athens on Oct. 27. This will mark the teams’ second meet of the year at home after Georgia hosted the Bulldog SEC Preview on Sept. 9.
Cunniff’s Take: “This meet is critical to keep student-athletes who will run at SECs but not at Pre-Nationals active and engaged,” said Bulldog distance coach Patrick Cunniff. “It also gives us a great chance to give more kids college racing experience. We also want to continue pushing more people to be really aggressive and competitive when they get the chance to race.”
All 10 Georgia scorers from last week’s Paul Short Run will train through this weekend to prepare for the NCAA Pre-Nationals in Louisville, Ky., on Oct. 14. The postseason arrives with SECs two weeks after that.
“We need to sharpen up, freshen up and stay healthy,” Cunniff said. “I think we have a strong sense of who we are and what we need to do these next six weeks, and we are eager to hit these next big meets.”
Georgia last competed at Furman in 2015 and the women finished second with a full squad while the men took an abbreviated lineup and finished sixth. However, the Lady Bulldogs ran a 6k that day and the Bulldog men ran an 8k, unlike the pair of 5k races that UGA is geared up for on Saturday.
“The thing that jumps out is that this is a 5k for both genders, which means shorter, faster races and a really good chance to go for it,” said Cunniff. “We want to see fearless racing and competitive toughness. Our runners should be in the mix to be near the front of this field and we want to see who can seize that opportunity.”
Glimpse At The Rest Of 2017: This is the fourth of five regular season meets for the Bulldogs. UGA also has the NCAA Pre-Nationals left during the regular season. Following SECs in Athens, the Bulldogs will race at the NCAA South Regional in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Nov. 10 and then prepare for the NCAA Championships at Louisville on Nov. 18.