Oct. 25, 2007
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With the regular season over, the first leg of the 2007 cross country postseason gets under way this Saturday with the SEC Championships at Kentucky Horse Park’s Steeplechase Course in Lexington, Ky. The women’s race will be a 6k, while the men will run on an 8k course.
“The conference meet is an interesting animal. It’s something the freshmen haven’t experienced before, so it’s really hard to tell them what they’re getting into,” commented Steve Keith. “What I’m trying to press on everyone is to be as relaxed and confident as possible.”
The men’s race will begin at 9 a.m. CT. Arkansas is the defending SEC Champion in the men’s 8k and has won 16 consecutive SEC Championships. At the 2006 SEC Cross Country Championship race, the Commodores placed 10th out of 11 teams. Austin Williamson led the way for Vanderbilt, finishing 41st overall in a time of 25:41.
“I fully anticipate Austin to run his best race ever to cap off his 2007 season,” exuded Keith. “I thought his race at the Chile Pepper Festival was excellent. He’s been very consistent. His health is good. I would love to see Austin in the top 25 overall.”
In addition to Williamson, Keith expects to see a solid showing from the rest of the men’s squad.
“I think Thomas Davis will finish in the top 40. I also believe that runners three through five on our squad have set themselves up to have good races at the conference. I know there are a couple of teams in our sights we’d like to put behind us.”
The women’s race will begin at 10 a.m. CT. Last season, in Baton Rouge, La., the Vanderbilt women’s team finished seventh out of 12 teams with Arkansas winning the team championship. Vanderbilt’s top returning finisher from a year ago is Julie Eckerly, who finished second on the team and 49th overall in 22:11.
“Expect Rita Jorgensen, Carmen Mims, Adrienne DiRaddo, and Julie to shoot for some high finishes this weekend,” said Keith. “I really see a lot of improvement in the contributions in the number five spot from a number of different people. That’s what probably excites me the most.”
The Lexington, Ky., area has sustained heavy rainfall over the last several days. The course is not expected to run very fast.
Following the SEC Championships, half of the women’s cross country team will participate in Race for the Cure, a charity race open to the public that benefits Breast Cancer research. The men’s and women’s team will follow up on November 10 at the NCAA Regional competition in Gainesville, Fla.