COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The South Carolina cross country team will compete at the 2012 SEC Championships on Friday at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Tenn.
The 6,000-meter race is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. CT, with the men's 8,000-meter race to follow at 11.
The Gamecocks will look to keep their momentum going after coming off a third-place finish at the NCAA Pre-Nationals in the unseeded black race. South Carolina has finished first, seventh, 11th and third in four meets this season.
"The kids are all very excited because it was good that four out of our top five ran personal records at the last race," South Carolina head coach Stan Rosenthal Said. "Everyone is as healthy as they can be. Hopefully, our legs are fresh and we will give a really good accounting of ourselves."
BREAKING DOWN THE FIELD With the additions of Missouri and Texas A&M, the field expands to 14 teams in 2012. Arkansas (No. 12), Vanderbilt (No. 28) and Florida (No. 30) enter the meet nationally ranked. Thirteen of the 14 SEC squads are regionally ranked, including the Gamecocks at No. 8 in the Southeast Region. It's the highest regional ranking of head coach Stan Rosenthal's tenure at South Carolina.
RECAPPING THE 2011 SEC CHAMPIONSHIPS Vanderbilt claimed its first-ever SEC title last year, winning the meet with 30 points at Lambert Acres Golf Club in Maryville, Tenn. Arkansas' Kristen Gillespie won individually with a time of 20:19.84. The Gamecocks placed 11th. Then-senior Beatrice Biwott led the way with a 25th-place showing with a 6K personal record of 21:31.56.
GAMECOCKS AT THE SEC CHAMPIONSHIPS South Carolina is making its 22nd appearance at the SEC Championships. The Gamecocks' best finish at the event was a fifth-place showing at the 1999 SEC Championships, which was coincidentally held at Percy Warner Park. South Carolina placed three runners - Sara Hadwin (11th), Joyce Peebles (12th) and Katie Orr (19th) - in the top 20 that season.
PREVIEWING THE COURSE Friday's meet will mark the fourth time the SEC Championships have been held at Percy Warner Park. The championships were also held there in 1978, 1987 and 1999. After watching his team race at Percy Warner Park earlier this season at the Commodore Classic/SEC Preview, here is what coach Rosenthal has to say about the course:
"We went there because we thought it might be an advantage and help us do a little better," Rosenthal said. "The girls feel really comfortable because they already know the course. It's a fairly flat course but it does have a lot of turns, so it's not quite as fast as what it could be."
HISTORY CHASER Gamecock freshman Kayla Lampe is well on her way to having a stellar career in Columbia. A native of Downingtown, Pa., Lampe opened the season with a win in the Gamecock Invitational, setting the meet record with a time of 17:10.20. She also won the unseeded black race at the NCAA Pre-Nationals and finished second and third in South Carolina's other two meets on the schedule. Lampe, who has the 16th fastest 6K time in the conference this season (21:03.50), is looking to become the highest finisher in Gamecock history at the SEC Championships. Jenny Lake holds that mark with a seventh place finish in the 2003 at the University Club in Athens, Ga.
SENIOR SENDOFF Senior Chelsea France has been a steady runner for the Gamecocks this season. A transfer from Virginia, France has finished second, 15th and 10th in three races in 2012. She enters the meet coming off one of her best performances of the year as she finished 10th at the NCAA Pre-Nationals. Her time of 21:35.4 was the second fastest 6K time of her career.
FAN INFO Admission to Friday's SEC Championships is free. For more information, visit the SEC Championships home page by clicking here.