Oct. 26, 2012
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Georgia men's cross country team matched their best-ever finish at the Southeastern Conference Championships by finishing second as a team on Friday morning at the Nashville/Davidson County Metro Park.
The second-place finish is tied for the best in school history, as Georgia also finished second at the SEC Championships in 2003. The men improved upon their third-place finish at this event last year and sixth-place finish in 2010.
The 28th-ranked Bulldogs scored a total of 73 points to finish behind champion Arkansas (35 points). Senior Matt Cleaverearned first-team All-SEC honors with a fifth-place finish on the 8k course in a time of 24:01.49. Cleaver has now scored at the SEC meet each year during his career, including an 8th-place finish last year that earned him second-team All-SEC honors.
Four other Bulldogs finished within the top-20 at the meet, led by Brandon Lord in 13th (24:15.45), Brian Detweiler in 16th (24:21.36), Luke Baker in 19th (24:26.66) and Brett Richardsonin 20th (24:29.94).
Richardson also joins Cleaver in the ranks of scoring at each of the previous three SEC Championship meets during his career, while Lord scored for the third consecutive time at this meet. Detweiler and Baker both repeated as scorers for the Bulldogs at the SEC meet for the second consecutive season.
"I am very proud of how both our squads raced and competed," said cross country coach Patrick Cunniff. "We’re thrilled that the men finished in the top two in such a competitive conference. It’s a sign of how hard these guys have worked and really a testament to the attitude and the ethic of the group. I'm particularly proud of our three seniors, Matt Cleaver, Brian Detweiler, and I really feel like Brett Richardson was the hero for this team today being our number five guy. To have all five of our scorers in the top 20 just shows what a great team we have and what a great group of guys we have. Obviously for Matt Cleaver to finish in the top five as a fifth-year senior just shows how hard he’s worked and how amazing his development has been during his time in the Georgia program."
A pair of Bulldogs earned spots on the SEC All-Freshman team, as Sid Vaughn finished 37th overall in a time of 24:59.81 and Steven Spevacekclaimed 52nd place in 25:27.88. The All-Freshman team consists of the top seven freshmen finishers at the meet, and Vaughn and Spevacek finished fourth and seventh, respectively, among freshman runners.
For the Lady Bulldogs, sophomore Carly Hamiltonraced to a fourth-place finish en route to earning First-Team All-SEC honors. Hamilton helped lead the Lady Bulldogs to a sixth-place team finish overall with a total of 132 points. Florida claimed the SEC championship with a score of 61 points, followed by Arkansas (70 points) in second place and Vanderbilt (119) in third.
Hamilton recorded a time of 20:39.11 on the 6k course and was just under 20 seconds behind SEC Individual Champion Cally Macumber of Kentucky (20:23.29). Senior captain Morgan VanGorderplaced in the top 20 at the event, finishing 19th overall in a time of 21:18.89.
Fellow senior Leslie Boozer, a two-time scorer at this event in her career, once again turned in a strong performance for the Lady Bulldogs, as she placed third on the team and 32nd overall in 21:32.86.
"Carly Hamilton’s performance as an individual was incredible," said Cunniff. "For her to run right with the lead pack for most of the race and then beat a lot of the girls over the last mile and finish fourth overall shows that she’s developing into a truly national-caliber athlete and it's a great sign for our program. We also have to pay great respect to our two seniors: Morgan VanGorder and Leslie Boozer. They set the tone and were solid in the middle of our lineup. They gave us solid performances that helped us achieve what we did this year.”
Nicole DiMercurio (21:36.96) and Bret McDaniel(21:36.98) finished back-to-back in 38th and 39th place, respectively. McDaniel was racing in her first SEC Championship after transferring from Wake Forest, while DiMercurio achieved her career-best finish at this event after finishing 41st in 2010 and 74th in 2009.
"For the women, we feel like we competed very well and we ran one of our best races of the year, but we found ourselves just on the short side of a group of teams that were all within 13 points of each other," said Cunniff. "If you think that Vanderbilt is a top-25 team in the country and our girls only fell 13 points behind them, that’s a great sign, but then to know that there were two other teams in there that we didn’t beat shows our disappointment."
Georgia returns to action at the NCAA South Regional Championships in Tallahassee, Fla., on Friday, Nov. 9.
Women's First-Team All-SEC:
Carly Hamilton(4th - 20:39.11)
Men's First-Team All-SEC:
Matt Cleaver(5th - 24:01.49)
Men's Second-Team All-SEC:
Brandon Lord(13th - 24:15.45)