Nov. 23, 2013
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. --- The Georgia men completed their 2013 cross country season by taking 31st at the NCAA Championships on the Lavern Gibson Course in Terre Haute, Ind., on Saturday afternoon with nearly freezing temperatures, wet conditions and 20 mph winds.
The Bulldogs scored 690 points as Arkansas led the conference competitors by finishing 12th (340). Colorado (149) registered the team victory over Northern Arizona (169) by 20 points. Oregon freshman Edward Cheserek tallied the NCAA individual title after completing the 10k course in 29:41.1.
Georgia senior Luke Baker led the charge for the Bulldogs with a 72nd-place finish (31:03.3). This is the second-best finish for one of UGA’s individual finishers in history (Simon Ngata, 6th, 2004) and it improved Baker’s 2012 finish by nearly 50 spots.
The NCAA meet was Georgia’s third consecutive one and Bulldog distance coach Patrick Cunniff is encouraged about what type of foundation this group has developed.
“This was a tough day for the Bulldogs,” said Cunniff, whose team captured the NCAA South Regional crown last week. “We are proud of all the guys and what they accomplished this year as well as the effort they gave today. Our seniors were excellent again today, especially Luke Baker running one of the best and gutsiest races in UGA history.
“For the younger guys, the challenge of two 10ks in nine days and the harsh course conditions were a little too much. But they will learn and grow from this. This really is a great group of guys and they gave it their all against a tough field today.”
Baker, who was 195th in 2011 and 120th last year, completed his cross career by leading the Bulldogs in their last four meets. His finish was the best for a member of the Georgia men’s team since Simon Ngata finished sixth in 2004 as Georgia’s best finish in 2012 was 96th.
Fellow senior Brandon Lord was the second UGA finisher after taking 136th with a time of 31:39.1. Opening his NCAA Championships career with a 206th-place finish in 2011, Lord scored at all three of the last national meets.
A third senior, Charlie Sparks, was the third Bulldog scorer as he managed a 181st-place finish. Sparks’ time of 32:07.5 made him a scorer at the NCAA Championships for the first time in his career.
Georgia’s fourth and fifth scorers were a pair of juniors who were racing at the NCAA Championships for the first time. Zack Sims clocked a time of 32:34.2 for 221st-place finish while Steven Spevacek was 224th at 32:35.0.
Full results and a recap of the NCAA Championships can be found at georgiadogs.com.
1. Colorado (149)
2. Northern Arizona (169)
3. Oklahoma State (230)
4. BYU (267)
5. Oregon (274)
6. Iona (284)
7. Portland (293)
8. Indiana (306)
9. Wisconsin (326)
10. Syracuse (329)
31. GEORGIA (690)
BULLDOG INDIVIDUAL FINISHERS
72. Luke Baker (72nd – 31:03.3)
136. Brandon Lord (136th – 31:39.1)
181. Charlie Sparks (32:07.5)
221. Zack Sims (32:34.1)
224. Steven Spevacek (32:35.0)
242. Sid Vaughn (33:21.6)
251. Brendan Hoban (33:47.7)