Sophomore Carly Hamilton
Sept. 15, 2012
NASHVILLE --- The Georgia men and women's cross country teams took part in their second meet of the season on Saturday as they raced in the Commodore Classic in Nashville, Tenn.
While all five of the Georgia men who scored at the season-opening Georgia Invitational rested this weekend as they continued their training, the top three finishers for the Lady Bulldogs on Sept. 1 also remained in Athens.
Battling in an 8k showdown with six other teams from the Southeastern Conference, the Bulldog men were fourth (173 points) out of 24 teams. Eastern Kentucky (32) cruised to the team victory as Miami (Ohio) scored 83 for second and Tennessee (121) finished third.
Individually, sophomore Zack Sims had the top Georgia finish at 25th (25:25.10) as the rest of the Bulldog scorers also broke into the top 50 finishers.
The Lady Bulldogs ran their first 6k of the season after opening with a 5k on Georgia's home course. Georgia finished sixth (190) out of 24 teams as sixth-ranked Vanderbilt (42) easily won on its home course over Ole Miss (84).
Sophomore Carly Hamilton, who sat out the season opener while recovering from an injury, had the best finish for the Lady Bulldogs after taking 19th with a time of 21:55.96. Wake Forest transfer and current junior Bret McDaniel was second for Georgia (26th - 22:13.62) and led the next three scorers for the Lady Bulldogs.
"I was very happy with the way our men competed today," said Bulldog distance coach Patrick Cunniff. "They committed to our race plan and all worked very hard on the back half of their race. Zack Simms was outstanding and everyone else, particularly Brendan Hoban and Sid Vaughn, were very solid. It shows that we have great depth and that these young guys are eager."
After the Georgia women, like the men, won their fourth straight Georgia Invitational to start the year, Cunniff believes meets like the Commodore Classic will continue to prepare his teams for the SEC meet.
"The women faced a tough challenge from a very good field and with trying to adjust to 6k on a difficult course," Cunniff said. "I think this meet will really help us see what we need to do to be ready when we return for SECs. Getting Carly Hamilton and Bret McDaniel in the lineup was great for us and I thought they both did a nice job for their first races."
Finishing one spot out of scoring at the home meet, Sims tallied the first team-leading performance of his collegiate career. Sophomore Brendan Hoban, who was on the 2011 All-SEC Freshman team, finished next for the Bulldogs after recording a 35th-place finish (25:39.72). Two spots behind Hoban was freshman Sid Vaughn. Racing in his first official meet for the Bulldogs, Vaughn was 37th with a time of 25:40.56.
Sophomore Steven Spevacek finished 43rd (25:51.15) in his first official collegiate action to score for UGA while senior Kyle James locked down the fifth and final scoring spot after taking 47th with a 25:55.77.
For the women, Hamilton returned to action and managed to top her teammates in the second meet of the season. The Springboro, Ohio, native also led the Lady Bulldogs in the second meet of 2011 after earning runner-up honors at the Georgia State Invitational.
McDaniel, who is racing for the second year with the Lady Bulldogs, finished one spot ahead of senior Nicole DiMercurio in UGA's scoring list. DiMercurio was 43rd (22:35.86) on Saturday after also grabbing a top-five finish in the season opener.
Sophomore Anna Bowles and junior Savannah Kirk were the final pair of scorers for Georgia. Bowles, who scored during the first three collegiate meets of her career last season, was 54th after clocking a 22:48.00. Kirk finished the course at the Percy Ward Park in 22:54.18 for 59th place.
The Bulldogs take the coming week off before traveling to Louisville, Ky., for the Greater Louisville Classic on Saturday, Sept. 29.