Cross Country Wins Gamecock Invitational In Season Opener
<b>Dani Barnes</b>
Dani Barnes

Sept. 4, 2009

Coach Rosenthal

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COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina cross country team opened its season in familiar fashion Friday after winning the annual Gamecock Invitational for the fourth time. Held at Hilton Field in Fort Jackson, senior Dani Barnes led a strong Gamecock contingent of runners with an individual second place finish to push Carolina past 12 teams, including rival Clemson.

With the Gamecock pack starting in the lead, sophomore Beatrice Biwott shot out to an early lead of five meters at the one mile mark, pacing South Carolina while running comfortably. Barnes and Ashley Evens held up the second pack with a steady run heading into the second mile.

As Biwott slid to second halfway through, Barnes began to make her push and moved up to fourth, still running smoothly about 20 seconds behind the leaders. On the final lap of the course, Barnes continued to push her way up the pack with a strong move, taking second overall in her first race of the season with a 35 second PR. In the humid Columbia air, Biwott began to suffer a little dehydration but was able to fight through it for a fifth place finish.

"I felt really great," Barnes said. "I knew from training I was fitter this time than I as this time last year. I had a big PR, about 35 seconds off my last best time, so it was a good start to the season and a lot more of that to come."

Evens and Laura Pramstaller followed not far behind to finish eighth and ninth, respectively, and freshman Tatum Tyler gave the Gamecocks five in the top 11 after crossing the line 11th overall.

"We were first and Clemson was second, so that was good," head coach Stan Rosenthal said. "From what I can gather, we had several lifetime best and certainly had a bunch of first-meet-of-season bests, so that was good. Dani did great. Beatrice had a little problem with being dehydrated in the heat so that was a little disappointing, but she's been kicking butt in practice, so obviously, next time she will drink enough and we'll have her and Dani up front."

With 35 points, the Gamecocks finished well ahead of second place finisher Clemson's 49 points. Coastal Carolina took third with 51 points.

"I think at least our third, fourth and fifth runners all ran a lifetime bests, so that was a good way to open up the season," Rosenthal said. "We've been working hard, but we're not pushing it. We've got a long ways to improve, but that's a really good start."

The Gamecocks are back in action Sept. 19 at the Asics/Winthrop Invitational.

The Gamecock Invitational also featured a men's race that was won by Coastal Carolina.