While junior Brandon Lord and a group of Georgia's other top runners will be taking the weekend off from the competition to train, the rest of Georgia's teams are running at the Commodore Classic in Nashville.
Sept. 14, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. --- The Georgia men and women’s cross country teams make their first of two trips this season to Nashville’s Percy Warner Park for the annual Commodore Classic on Saturday.
The 30th-ranked Bulldog men race in the Gold 8k race at 10 a.m. ET. The field includes Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt from the Southeastern Conference and 17 other teams.
On the women’s side, Georgia joins the sixth-ranked Lady Commodores, Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Tennessee from the SEC in the 6k race at 10:45 a.m. The entire field is made up of 25 teams from across the region.
For the women, seniors Nicole DiMercurio and Lindsey Ebert, juniors Stella Christoforou, Savannah Kirk and Bret McDaniel, sophomores Anna Bowles, Carly Hamilton and Erika Ramsey and freshmen Victoria Coppage, Lauren Kelly and Molly Schenck will be making the trip.
The Bulldogs will return to Nashville for the SEC Championships on Oct. 26. Until then, first-year distance coach Patrick Cunniff will be working to prepare his teams for the coming postseason.
“For a lot of our athletes, this meet is a great chance to gain experience and continue to learn how to run an 8k or a 6k and work on how to compete at an SEC level,” said Cunniff, who ran at Georgia and graduated from UGA in 1991. “We are sitting quite a few of our most experienced runners because they know how to handle the distance and are training hard to get ready for championship season.”
Cunniff is expected to face the stiffest competition later in the regular season. But he said having an opportunity to run on the same course where the league meet will be held is a valuable perk.
“I think it will be great for our staff to get up there see the course and get a dry run on the logistics so every thing will be dialed in at championship time,” Cunniff said. “For the athletes, running the conference course adds excitement and the fact that it's the SEC preview has attracted a great field of our rivals. It makes a very good simulation of what we will face.”
Cunniff has separate goals for each of his teams going into the second regular season meet of the year.
“For the men, we are looking for two or three people to step up and prove that we have depth to compliment our leaders; and because we are running mostly young guys we want to see men getting where they need to be developmentally so they can keep our success going in the future,” said Cunniff. “It's a very interesting mix for our women. We are excited to get Carly Hamilton into the lineup and we hope she will be a major factor for this team. Stella Christoforou is coming off an awesome opener but now has to translate that to a longer 6k race. And that will be our biggest goal as a team learning to run 6k well and be competing hard at the finish. We have a lot of potential and depth, now we need women to start to break out and move up.”
Georgia took last weekend off. The Bulldogs are scheduled to compete in another pair of meets after the Commodore Classic before SECs: the Greater Louisville Classic (Sept. 29) and Wisconsin adidas Invitational (Oct. 12).
This will mark the Bulldogs’ second meet of the season. UGA opened 2012 by sweeping the Georgia Invitational on the teams’ home course in Bishop, Ga., for the fourth consecutive year.
Senior Morgan VanGorder captured the individual victory for the women while junior Brandon Lord ran away with the win on the men’s side. This marked the first collegiate victory for both VanGorder and Lord, who was named the SEC Co-Runner of the Week for his performance.
Full results and a recap from the Commodore Classic will be posted at georgiadogs.com.