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Cross Country

Gamecocks Set for SEC Championships
Oct. 26, 2017

Cross Country at the 2017 SEC Championships

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- It's postseason time for the University of South Carolina cross country team as the Gamecocks head to Athens, Ga., for the 2017 SEC Championships. Start time is set for 10 a.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 27, at the UGA Golf Course.

Carolina will join its Southeastern Conference rivals on Friday morning in the annual quest for the league crown. Three nationally-ranked programs will be there: No. 6 Arkansas, No. 16 Georgia and No. 22 Ole Miss, while Mississippi State enters the meet just outside the USTFCCCA top-30.


"I am very pleased with the progress we've made over the course of this season, especially the last two meets, which have been large meets against high-level competition. They've been excellent preparation for both the SEC Championships and the NCAA Regional. What I told the ladies this morning that we are looking for is 'best race, same day' -- we've had a lot of good individual performances spread out over the course of the last two or three meets, and trying to get them all on the same day is going to produce the best team performance for us." -- Cross Country Coach Andrew Allden, on the team's approach to the conference meet

"I know what to expect now, and I know to take it one hill at a time and not worry about the next hill and the next loop. I just need to run in the moment, give it all I've got, and not save it for the end." -- Sophomore Anna Kathryn Stoddard, as she prepares to run the course at Georgia for the second time


Carolina's last regular-season meet was Oct. 13, when the Gamecocks finished 12th out of 31 quality opponents at the Crimson Classic in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Sophomore Anna Kathryn Stoddard paced the club, finishing 58th with a time of 21:58.2. That run is the 28th sub-22 minute 6K mark in Carolina history.

Stoddard was one of nine Gamecocks to run a 6K collegiate PR in Alabama. Kaylee Wessel placed 68th with a personal-best time of 22:05.5, and Heather Stone took 69th with an effort of 22:06.0. Allison Mueller, Colleen Openshaw, Sarah-Sims McGrath and Megan Buechler rounded out Carolina's top-seven at the event.


Buoyed by their strong showing at the Crimson Classic and team regular-season victories at the Koala Classic and Carolina Challenge, the Gamecocks rose to No. 15 in the latest USTFCCCA Southeast Region rankings, released Oct. 16. It's the first regional listing of the season for the Gamecocks and overall, the first time they've cracked the top-15 since the third week of the 2015 season.

With Carolina's ascendance into the Southeast Region's top-15, this week's SEC Championships will feature 13 regionally-ranked squads. Kentucky joins the Gamecocks in the Southeast poll, while Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt are part of the South Region poll, Arkansas, LSU and Texas A&M are ranked in the South Central Region and Missouri is part of the Midwest's top-15.


Friday will mark Carolina's 27th appearance at the SEC Cross Country Championships. The Gamecocks posted their best finish in 1999, when they finished fifth in Nashville, Tenn. Carolina placed sixth in two other occasions: 1994 and 1995.

This is the third time the Gamecocks will take part in the SEC Championships in Athens. Carolina finished eighth at the 1991 edition of the race, its first appearance, and the Gamecocks came in 10th in 2003.

Seven Gamecocks have earned All-SEC status since 1991. Danielle Adams (1992), Sue McGhie (1993), Tracy Capper (1994), Sara Hadwin (1999), Joyce Peebles (1999), Jenny Lake (2003 First Team) and Kayla Lampe (2012 Second Team) each achieved the feat. Beatrice Biwott (2008), Lampe (2012) and Mary Reiser (2013) each earned All-Freshman Team nods at their first SEC Championships.

McGhie set a Carolina individual record when she placed sixth in 1993. Lake and Biwott each finished as the top Gamecock four times, with Lake taking seventh place in 2003.

Prior to joining the Southeastern Conference, Carolina competed in the Metro Conference, where it earned league titles in 1988, 1989 and 1990.


The Gamecocks finished 13th last season at the SEC Championships, hosted by Arkansas. Graduated senior Mary Reiser led Carolina with a 61st-place finish.

Among returning Gamecocks, Anna Kathryn Stoddard was the top finisher, coming home in 22:46.0 to place 90th. Allison Mueller finished 100th on the dot, with a time of 23:03.6, while Kaylee Wessel's time of 23:08.8 was good for 106th.


South Carolina earned its second team victory of the 2017 season when itcaptured the Koala Classic, hosted by Columbia College, on Saturday, Oct. 7. The top six finishers and 10 of the top 11 runners at the meet were Gamecocks.

Senior Kaylee Wessel paced the Gamecocks, earning her first career individual victory. Wessel crossed the line in 19:35.3, almost a full minute ahead of the remaining 72 competitors.

Morgan Lee finished second, with a time of 20:30.0, while Rachel Hensler completed the podium with a mark of 20:41.6. Sarah Riser's time of 20:47.4 was good for fourth place, and Kelsey Larkin, in her first career 5K race, rounded out the top-five in 20:49.1.


The Gamecocks finished 13th in the Gold Division at the Joe Piane Invitational, hosted Sept. 29 by Notre Dame. Carolina improved its finish at the meet by two positions over last season, when it came in 15th.

Junior Allison Mueller paced the Gamecocks at Notre Dame with the best performance of her career. Mueller's time of 17:56.0 was good for 23rd individually in the Gold Division and the seventh-fastest 5K time in Carolina history. Mueller beat her previous PR by more than 38 seconds.

Mueller was one of six Gamecocks to set a collegiate best at Notre Dame. Heather Stone ran 18:26.1 to finish 59th, while Colleen Openshaw took 70th in 18:37.0. Sarah-Sims McGrath (18:45.2), Morgan Lee (19:13.4) and Sarah Riser (19:38.3) also ran their best 5K races as Gamecocks at the meet.


South Carolina finished fourth at the Bulldog SEC Preview, hosted Sept. 9 by the University of Georgia. Sophomore Anna Kathryn Stoddard led the Gamecocks with a 6K time of 22:44.9, good for 16th overall at the meet. Allison Mueller (23:11.7), Kaylee Wessel (23.14.5), Heather Stone (23:17.6) and Brooke Wilson (23.18.8) rounded out Carolina's top five performers.

Five Gamecocks made their 6K debuts at the meet: Stone, Wilson, Rachel Hensler, Sarah Riser and Kylee Yturralde. Each ran a personal best, as did sophomore Sarah-Sims McGrath, the sixth-highest Gamecock finisher in 23:45.5.

South Carolina will return to Athens Oct. 27 for the 2017 SEC Championships.


The Gamecocks defended their team championship at the Carolina Challenge on Sept. 2, opening the season by dominating the seven-team field. Anna Kathryn Stoddard posted a 5K time of 18:32.1 to lead Carolina and place third overall, while Kaylee Wessel, Brooke Wilson, Allison Mueller and Heather Stone also finished in the top-10.

Wessel ran a 5K personal best of 18:36.2, one of 11 collegiate PRs achieved by the Gamecocks at the meet. Veterans Colleen Openshaw (19:08.6), Sarah-Sims McGrath (19:13.5), Morgan Lee (19:39.6), Megan Buechler (19:54.2) and Julia Nardone (20:10.7) also ran their collegiate bests at the Sandhills REC.


The postseason continues for the Gamecocks on Nov. 10, when they run at the NCAA Southeast Regional in Earlysville, Va.




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