Sept. 27, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The South Carolina cross country team has been a regular at the Charlotte Invitational during head coach Stan Rosenthal's tenure, and on Friday the Gamecocks will be racing at the meet for a fourth consecutive season at McAlpine Park.
However, this year's field is one of the meet's strongest in recent history with the race also serving as a preview of the NCAA Southeast Regional Championship, which will be held at McAlpine Park on Nov. 9. The Gamecocks will compete against 25 Division I schools on Friday, including nine regionally ranked squads.
"Because it's the NCAA Southeast Regional Preview in addition to the Charlotte Invitational, the field is definitely stronger," Rosenthal said. "Many of the top teams in the region are going to be at the race. It's going to be a great test for our team."
Of the 25 teams South Carolina will race against, seven are ranked in the top 15 of the Southeast Region, including rival Clemson at No. 6. No. 8 Virginia Tech, No. 9 East Carolina, No. 11 Elon, No. 12 Richmond, No. 13 Charlotte and No. 14 Appalachian State round out the regionally ranked teams from the Southeast Region.
The Gamecocks are coming off a seventh-place finish at the Commodore Classic, as freshman Kayla Lampe led the way with another stellar performance. Lampe finished second on the 6,000-meter course with a personal record of 21:06.24. The time is also the fastest 6K mark in the SEC by a freshman and fifth fastest overall. Senior Chelsea France also helped South Carolina's cause with a 15th-place finish in 21:47.02.
Lampe and France will look to lead the charge again on Friday and will be joined by junior Penny Boswell and freshmen Christine Kent, Annie Grove, Mary Fouse and Anna Todd in the Championship Gold "A" Race. The Gamecocks will also have a group running in the 6K Green "B" Race.
"It's a very young group," Rosenthal said. "One of the good things about this weekend will be the return of Meredith Mill running in the "B" Race. When she's healthy and back in shape, she will be in our top five. The freshman girls have not run in the 18's yet, which is the goal this week. We want to get as many possible coming through 5,000 meters in the mid 18's and finishing the last 1,000 meters strongly. If we can do that, we will do well as a team."
The women's 6K Championship Gold Race is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. on Friday at McAlpine Park, followed by the men's Championship Gold Race at 4:15.
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