Bulldog Cross Country Posts Top NCAA Finish In History
Nov. 17, 2012
LOUISVILLE, Ky. --- The Georgia men’s cross country team finished 19th for its best finish in program history at the NCAA Cross Country Championships run around the E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky., on Saturday afternoon.
The Bulldogs scored 466 points as Oklahoma State captured the NCAA title with 72 points. Wisconsin (135), Colorado (158), Northern Arizona (191) and Florida State (238) finished second through fifth, respectively. Georgia’s previous top finish at the national meet was 25th at both the 2003 and 2004 NCAA Championships.
This marked the fourth time the Bulldogs had raced at the NCAA meet. They had the SEC’s top finish in 2011 (29th) and were second from the league this season.
“This was very exciting to see our men come away with the best finish in the history of the University of Georgia,” said Bulldog distance coach Patrick Cunniff. “It’s a testament to how hard this team has worked and how great our seniors have been in their final season. Matt (Cleaver), Brian (Detweiler) and Brett (Richardson) have been the heart and soul of this team all year. They may not have had the individual glory today, but they worked hard for the team and made this finish happen. We beat some of the best distance-dedicated programs in the country and to be in the top 20 in any NCAA sport is a great accomplishment.”
The Lady Bulldogs finished 30th (642) in their first trip to the NCAA meet since 2007. Oregon (114) won the meet as Providence (183), Stanford (198), Florida State (202) and Michigan (247) rounded out the top five.
The Lady Bulldogs have now run at the NCAA Championships eight times. The team’s first appearance was in 1990. The Lady Bulldogs finished a program-best ninth place that year.
“The women were excited to be (in Louisville) and I think it was a great accomplishment for them to advance to the NCAA Championships,” said Cunniff. “They ran hard and competed well. I think they were a little fatigued from two hard races at SECs and Regionals, probably still emotionally drained. But the whole team, especially seniors Morgan VanGorder and Leslie Boozer, showed great determination. They showed poise throughout the race. Morgan and Leslie competed as well as they have their entire career.”
For the men, four of the Bulldog’ first five scorers improved on their 2011 finishes. Senior Brett Richardson bettered his 228th-place finish last year to lead the team with a 96th-place finish in 2012. Richardson registered a time of 30:41.1 to break into the top 100.
“Brett had an amazing run,” Cunniff said. “He is someone who got in the race and found his rhythm. I thought he ran the back half of the race as well as anyone. All three of our seniors represented their school in a great fashion and should all be very proud about their final performances.”
Second to finish for Georgia was junior Brandon Lord, who topped his teammates with a third-place finish at the NCAA South Regional Championships. Lord finished 107th after clocking a 30:49.3.
Another junior, Luke Baker, was the Bulldogs’ third finisher in 120th place. Baker battled to complete the course in 30:54.7. Senior Brian Detweiler finished one second behind Baker for 121st place (30:55.7).
Georgia’s final scorer was senior Matt Cleaver. After having the best finish for any Bulldog at the 2011 NCAA Championships, Cleaver recorded a time of 31:09.1 to take 155th place in the last meet of his fall career.
As she has the last five meets, sophomore Carly Hamilton led the charge for the Lady Bulldogs at the NCAA Championships. The Springboro, Ohio, native finished 92nd place out of the 251 competitors after completing the course in 20:44.4.
In the final cross country meet of her career, VanGorder was the second Lady Bulldog finisher and 147th overall. VanGorder clocked a 21:04.5. Her senior co-captain, Leslie Boozer, was 165th (21:13.5) in her first NCAA action of her career.
Sophomore Bret McDaniel also scored for Georgia in her second season after transferring from Wake Forest. The Atlanta native finished in 21:31.5 to take 200th. The Lady Bulldogs’ final scorer of the day was junior Nicole DiMercurio, who was 210th with a mark of 21:34.5.
Full results and a recap from the NCAA Championships will be located at georgiadogs.com.
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