Sophomore Carly Hamilton
Sept. 29, 2012
LOUISVILLE --- The Georgia men's cross country team topped its Southeastern Conference competition and registered a third-place finish at the Greater Louisville Classic on Saturday morning.
The Bulldogs had three finishers in the top 30 during a competition that featured 255 runners and a handful of nationally-ranked squads. Georgia (143 points) finished behind Iona (47) and Columbia University (110).
On the women's side, the Lady Bulldogs were 10th (267) as Arizona (71), Washington (80) and Michigan State (135) rounded out the top three finishers.
"I'm really happy with how our teams jumped right into a meet that was loaded with nationally-ranked teams and mixed it up," said Bulldog distance coach Patrick Cunniff. "I could tell our guys still had a little rust from sitting out a week but they ran a steady, strong race and competed hard and I think that paid off for them today. The women stepped up versus a tough field and also competed well. They are still looking to put it together but I think we have that potential."
The Georgia men topped Missouri, Kentucky, Auburn and Ole Miss from the SEC as senior Matt Cleaver led the way with a 14th-place finish (24:07.88) in the 8k showdown. The only SEC runner to edge Cleaver was Kentucky's Luis Orta, who Cleaver battled during his track and field career on the way to a pair of league championships in the 3000-meter steeplechase for Cleaver.
Junior Brandon Lord, who won the season-opening Georgia Invitational, was Georgia's second finisher after taking 21st with a time of 24:13.53. The Bulldogs' third finisher in the top 30 was junior Luke Baker, who took 29th (24:27.10).
"I thought that was a really productive meet for Matt Cleaver in his fifth year and I'm proud of the way Brandon and Luke stayed with the front pack and fought until the end," Cunniff said. "Luke literally and figuratively was the key to our day. He lost his timing chip during the race. After he was done, he alerted the timers and luckily they had video evidence showing where he finished. This immediately bumped us up from fifth or sixth, which is where we were originally, to our true place of third."
Completing the top five scorers for Georgia were seniors Brian Detweiler and Brett Richardson. Detweiler, who sat out UGA's opener while recovering from an injury, roared back into action with a 40th-place finish (24:35.66). Richardson finished two spots behind Detweiler in 42nd (24:37.29).
For the women, sophomore Carly Hamilton grabbed the top Lady Bulldog finish for the second time in two meets. Hamilton, who was 19th at the Commodore Classic on Sept. 15, finished 20th overall in the 5k race with a time of 17:14.92. There were 267 runners in the women's event.
"I think this was a breakout finish for Carly to get into the top 20 today," said Cunniff. "I can see her developing more and more as each meet passes."
Senior captain Morgan VanGorder was second for Georgia across the finish line after taking 32nd (17:27.51). Fellow senior captain Leslie Boozer was the next finish at 51st place with a time of 17:38.20. VanGorder and Boozer were 1-2 overall, respectively, in Georgia's home opener.
"The senior leadership that Morgan and Leslie continue to show is also going to be key to our success when we hit the championship portion of the season," Cunniff said.
Another senior, Nicole DiMercurio, is also now two-for-two on scoring for the Lady Bulldogs this season. DiMercurio managed to cross the finish line in 17:52.54 for 76th place. Junior Bret McDaniel was the final scorer with an 84th-place finish (17:54.07).
Georgia returns to action in Madison, Wisc., for the Wisconsin Invitational on Oct. 12.
Full results and a recap from the Greater Louisville Classic are located at georgiadogs.com.