Senior Matt Cleaver
Oct. 25, 2012
**XOS FTP information for the SEC Cross Country Championships is at the bottom of the release**
Georgia Sports Communications
October 25, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bulldog Cross Country Rolls Into Postseason With Trip To SEC Championships
ATHENS, Ga. --- The Georgia cross country teams enter into postseason starting on Friday with the Southeastern Conference Championships in Nashville, Tenn.
The women's 6k race in the Percy Warner Park is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. ET while the men's 8k has a start time of noon.
The Georgia men, who return all of their scorers from 2011, enter the meet ranked 28th in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll. Only the ninth-ranked Arkansas men are ahead of the Bulldogs in the poll from the league while Texas A&M is ranked 29th as the Aggies head into their first SEC meet.
The Lady Razorbacks enter the weekend ranked 12th with meet host Vanderbilt holding down the 28th spot. Florida also moved into the national poll over the last couple of weeks and is ranked 30th.
Bulldog coach Patrick Cunniff traveled 10 men and 10 women on Wednesday for Friday's meet. For the men, seniors Matt Cleaver, Brian Detweiler Brett Richardson, juniors Luke Baker, Brandon Lord and Charlie Sparks, sophomores Brendan Hoban and Zack Sims and freshmen Steven Spevacek and Sid Vaughn will be representing Georgia.
"Matt Cleaver, Brian Detweiller and Brett Richardson are not only the cornerstone of this year's team, but also the foundation of the entire distance program," said Cunniff. "They set the tone with their dedication and desire and it's been an honor to work with them their senior year. They have shown the younger guys that hard work will pay off and proved that UGA can be successful at the highest level with hard-working Georgia kids. Now I know they are hungry for even more in championship season their senior year. They want to leave their mark and have done all the work necessary to make anything possible."
The Lady Bulldogs included on the team's first postseason trip are seniors Leslie Boozer, Nicole DiMercurio and Morgan VanGorder, juniors Stella Christoforou, Bret McDaniel and Savannah Kirk, sophomores Anna Bowles, Carly Hamilton and Erika Ramsey and freshman Sarah Perry.
"The women just have to believe in their work and fitness," Cunniff explained. "It's an incredible group of young women who are just grasping what they are capable of and how to do it. Wisconsin was really a big step, to go seven for seven on lifetime 6k (personal bests) and to do it in the biggest, craziest race in the country, really opened their eyes as to just how good they can be.
"The key for the SEC meet is to run aggressively but intelligently in the first half and then really dig deep and compete for every single place in the second half. We have the nicest group of girls, now we need to see them get a little mean. Again, like the men, our seniors, Morgan and Leslie, will lead us in attitude and work ethic. Carly Hamilton has been getting better every week and looks great heading into the championship."
Georgia rolls into the SEC meet after having strong finishes at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, which featured a number of top-ranked squads from across the country.
"Wisconsin was great for us because it showed our athletes that they truly are amongst the best in the nation and that they can handle the pressure of a huge meet against great competition," Cunniff said. "They know they are fit and getting sharper. The SEC meet is really important to them and a new challenge. Compared to Wisconsin, the competition is more personal and more man to man. You can see the teams you are looking for, even the person you are trying to beat and have to race them all the way to the line."
In 2011, Georgia surged into third place at the SEC Championships for the first time since 2004 after finishing no better than fifth the four years proceeding last season. Cleaver, a three-time scorer at SECs, led the Bulldogs with an eighth-place finish in Tennessee. Lord joined Cleaver with Second Team All-SEC honors after taking 10th while Richardson, who is another three-time scorer, was 15th.
The team's final two scorers were Baker (17th) and Detweiler (18th). This was the first time either of last two had scored at an SEC cross country meet.
The Lady Bulldogs have now taken fourth for four consecutive seasons after taking third in 2007 and second in 2006. Bowles had the best finish out of the returners on this year's team after taking 27th as a freshman. Boozer, who has scored twice at SECs, was 34th last season to wrap up Georgia's returning scorers.
Kristie Krueger, who has exhausted her cross country eligibility, was sixth in 2011 after winning the 2010 SEC title and taking fourth in 2009.
The Bulldog men turned last year's third-place finish into an invitation to the NCAA Championships. Georgia was 29th at Nationals last year to give UGA the top SEC finish. The UGA men are aiming for their first back-to-back trip to the NCAA Championships since 2003-04.
"One of the trickiest things in track or cross country is to bring back the same roster and expect to duplicate or improve results," said Cunniff. "New energy and fresh challenges are so important to moving forward. Having said that, this group has brought fresh commitment and added all their experience from last year. We certainly hope to be top three, but we are going to concentrate on our race plans, compete hard and trust that will land us the place we deserve."
Both the Georgia men and women have finished as high as second at the SEC Championships. The Lady Bulldogs have earned runner-up honors five times, most recently in 2006. The Bulldog men have been the second team to finish at the conference meet twice, the last time coming in 2003.
Full results and a recap from Friday's SEC Championships will be located at georgiadogs.com.
Here is the FTP access info for media and schools that will be looking for content from this Friday's SEC Cross Country Championship. Video and post-race interviews will be available Friday afternoon following the meet for usage.
Target Directory: SEC (choose from drop-down menu)
Troubleshooting: Call Ben Godwin (205) 420-8343