Oct. 26, 2012
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Under steel grey skies that threatened rain and cool temperatures at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Tenn., the South Carolina cross country team had its best team race of the season so far. Fourteen SEC teams lined up to battle for the conference championship. Ranked 13 out of 14 in the coaches' preseason poll, the Gamecocks ended up ninth. The top five all recorded lifetime 6K personal records for cross county. The course itself was 50 meters long. To adjust for the length of the course, 13 to 14 seconds were deducted from the final time.
"I'm ecstatic. We were ranked 14th in conference in the preseason. The girls have really been working hard and we are peaking at the right time," South Carolina head coach Stan Rosenthal said. "It was a great effort by the entire team. Even if they weren't having a great race, everybody was very supportive of each other. Hopefully, it will set us up for a really good result at the NCAAs in two weeks."
Carrying over her success from the regular season, freshman Kayla Lampe led the way again on Friday as she crossed the finish line in 13th place with a PR of 21:02.30. Lampe made two All-SEC teams. Her 13th place finish earned her Second Team All-SEC. She was also the third freshman to finish, earning her SEC All-Freshman Team honors.
Senior Chelsea France was the next Gamecock to cross the finish line as she placed 23rd with a PR of 21:23.67. The time bested her mark of 21:26 from last year's NCAA Southeast Regional.
Freshman Mary Fouse battled to the end just missing the SEC All-Freshman team, as she was the eighth freshman just one second from seventh and only four seconds from sixth. She finished 64th for the Gamecocks with a PR of 22:04.86. Sophomore Meredith Mill and junior Penny Boswell remained close throughout the race and crossed the finish line .20 of a second apart. Mill placed 85th with a PR of 22:28.31, while Boswell claimed 86th place with a PR of 22:28.51.
The raced started poorly for the team. Getting box two seemed to be a big break as it was a straight line to the bridge and the first turn. However, two trees in the starting area caused all of the teams in boxes three to 14 to move right. This meant while the team felt like they got out, everyone converged after the trees and they were buried. Lampe, who led every race this year, was back in the 40's. France was in the 50's and everyone else was in the 120's. However, they fought well and moved up. At the mile Lampe was in the 20's and France was in the 30's. Fouse and Boswell had moved in to the 90's or a little higher. Mill was still in the 100's.
At the halfway point, Lampe had moved into the high teens with France in high 20's. Fouse moved into the 70's. Boswell moved into the 80's with Mill in the high 90's. Coming out of the second hill loop at 5K, Lampe was 17:15 and in 15th place, France was 17:35 in 25th and Fouse at 18:09 around 65th. Boswell and Mill were at 18:27 in the low 80's.
During the final 1K, Lampe moved to 13th in 21:02 (20:49 6K), France to 23rd in 21:23 ( 21:10 6K), Fouse to 63rd in 22:04 (21:50 6K) and Mill and Boswell were 79th and 80th in 22:28 (22:14 6K for both). Fouse and Mill had huge PR's of over 40 seconds, while the others were in the 15 to 20 second range, which really showed the effort they all gave, especially over the last mile when everyone is suffering mentally. Given the spread from two to three, four and five and the bunching of the middle of the racers, it was difficult to gauge how the team did. When the scores were announced it was with great surprise to hear the Gamecocks were ninth.
The effort shows the team deserves their high NCAA Southeast Region ranking of No. 8, which was earned in the last regular season ranking, after having not been ranked all year.
In two weeks on the McAlpine Park course in Charlotte, N.C., the team will line with the 45 teams in the Southeast Region and race for the opportunity to make the NCAA Finals.
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