Sept. 13, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. --- After sweeping their season-opening home meet for the fifth consecutive year, Georgia's cross country teams will run in their second meet of the year at the Furman Cross Country Invitational around the Furman Golf Club in Greenville, S.C., on Saturday morning.
The women's 6k (6000-meters) is scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. while the men's 8k (8000) is slated for 9 a.m. Furman is expecting 32 men's teams and 34 women's teams for its inaugural meet.
On the women's side, Morgan Ainslie, Anna Bowles, Megan Charbeneau, Jenn Cora, Gabby Fulton, Carly Hamilton, Marrion Kalafut, Savannah Kirk, Brooke Koblitz, Kathleen LaPorte, Tori Martin, Bret McDaniel, Shelby Robison, Hannah Saylor and Payton Wilson are on the travel roster for Georgia's second meet.
"I think we had a good start with a pair of victories and strong performances almost across the board," said Bulldog distance coach Patrick Cunniff, who is in his second year leading Georgia's distance program. "We are looking to get experience from running this meet and the women will have a shot at running their first 6k, which is the distance of their championship races. I am also looking forward to seeing the next group past our top four or five runners step up, especially on the men's side.
"For the women, I am excited that we are opening up Carly Hamilton after she missed the home meet with an illness. This is a meet that will help me figure out who travels to Minnesota for the big meet there and to SECs later in the season."
Following the Furman meet, Georgia will be traveling to Minneapolis for the annual Roy Griak Invitational, which attracts the nation's top talent, on September 28.
Hamilton had to sit out the season-opening Georgia Cross Country Invitational on August 31 after getting sick the week of the meet. Now, the Springboro, Ohio, native is poised to build on a 2013 track season that saw her win the Southeastern Conference 1500 title and earn All-American honors in the mile.
"My goal for Carly is for her to have a solid opener and come out of it healthy," Cunniff said. "I want her to continue the progress she made last year. She was on fire at the end of the cross country season and during the track season and hopefully that development will continue."
The men, as well as the women, cruised to a victory at the Bulldogs' home course in Bishop, Ga. While some of the men who raced in the season opener are training through this weekend's meet, Cunniff is eager to see how the ones who are racing perform in Greenville.
"Steven Spevacek, Brendan Hoban, Morgan Malanoski, Brad Hort and others worked really hard this summer so I am ready to see what they can do at a meet like this," said Cunniff. "We have our front group and now I want to see which of these guys can break into that group."
Seniors Nicole DiMercurio and Brandon Lord were the individual winners during Georgia's first meet. Both are sitting out this weekend's competition. Lord was named the SEC Runner of the Week as well as the USTFCCCA National Men's Runner of the Week for his performance.
Live results from the Furman Cross Country Invitational will be found at georgiadogs.com.