Brandon Lord finished 14th overall
Sept. 28, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Both Georgia cross country teams battled versus some of the nation's top talent at the 28th-annual Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, Minn., on Saturday afternoon.
With temperatures hovering in the mid-50s and rain, the Georgia women were 12th posting 381 points on the 6000-meter course while the Bulldogs finished 13th with 307 points on the 8000-meter course at the Les Bolstad Golf Course.
BYU (62) edged Colorado State (74) for the team win on the men's side while Arizona scored 48 points to cruise to the women's title.
"We had some outstanding individual performances to have a solid team effort," said Bulldog distance coach Patrick Cunniff. "It is still early in the year and this was our first competition against high-level competition. We have not quite put it all together, but I am confident we will put it together by the time the SEC and NCAA Regionals arrive."
Junior Carly Hamilton, who opened her season by winning the Furman Cross Country Classic, finished at the front of Georgia's pack for the eighth consecutive race. The Springboro, Ohio, native sped to a finish of 21:21.85 to take 19th overall.
Senior Nicole DiMercurio finished second for Georgia after managing a 75th-place finish with a 22:21.25. One of her senior teammates, Savannah Kirk, also broke into the top 100 after taking 92nd (22:29.25).
The next Lady Bulldog to finish was junior Bret McDaniel. In her third season running for Georgia, McDaniel was 109th in Minneapolis after clocking a 22:38.55.
Junior Erika Ramsey took 132nd at the meet to be the fifth scorer. Ramsey ran a 22:51.25 for the Lady Bulldogs.
The final two Georgia women to finish in the Lady Bulldogs' top seven were juniors Megan Malasarte and Brooke Koblitz. Malasarte was 144th (23:00.25) in her second collegiate cross race while Koblitz took 165th (23:10.35).
"This is a great start for Carly in a race against some of the country's best runners," said Cunniff. "I think Savannah and Erika also had the best 6ks of their careers today which is encouraging."
On the men's side, senior Brandon Lord was Georgia's top finisher for the second time in 2013. The Chattanooga, Tenn., native was the first runner from the Southeastern Conference to cross the finish line in 14th with a time of 24:44.2.
Six spots behind Lord was his senior teammate Luke Baker in 20th place. Baker, the second SEC runner across the line, recorded a time of 24:49.0 after earning third-place honors at the season-opening Georgia Invitational.
The Bulldogs' third senior was also the third Georgia runner to finish. Charlie Sparks was 57th after completing the course in 25:19.5.
Georgia's fourth scorer on the day was junior Zack Sims, who wrapped up the race in 100th place out of the 210 competitors. Sims recorded a time of 25:46.7 in his second race of the year.
The fifth and final scorer along with the Bulldogs' sixth and seventh finishers all completed the course within 16 spots of each other. Junior Brendan Hoban led the group with a 138th-place finish. The Duluth native battled for a mark of 26:05.0.
"We are pleased anytime you have two guys in the top 20 at a meet like this," Cunniff said. "Brandon and Luke did well and the other senior, Charlie Sparks, was not far behind so I was happy with that front pack's performance."
Georgia returns to action in a pair of spots on Oct. 18 and 19. A portion of the squads will travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the Crimson Classic while another group of Bulldogs will make the trip to Madison, Wisc., for the Wisconsin adidas Invitational.
Alabama will also be hosting the NCAA South Regionals on Nov. 15. A majority of the nation's top-ranked teams are expected to be competing at Wisconsin's home course.