XC Teams Set to Compete in SEC Championships
Communications Student Assistant
ATHENS, Georgia – Following a two-week break in action, the LSU cross country teams are set to return to action Friday morning in the Southeastern Conference Championships held at the University of Georgia Golf Course. The men will kick off the meet in the 8k race scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. CT, and the women will follow at 11 a.m. CT in the 6k race.
Notable competitors against the Tigers and Lady Tigers feature a combined five teams ranked in the top-30 in the latest USTFCCCA NCAA Division I Cross Country National Coaches Poll. On the men’s side, the Ole Miss men’s team is ranked 16th, and Arkansas is 27th. For the women, Arkansas ranks sixth, Georgia is 16th and Ole Miss is 22nd. Arkansas has won four-consecutive SEC Championships for both teams.
Head Coach Mark Rinker has high hopes for both teams heading into Friday.
“It’s exciting to be heading to the SEC Championships on Friday,” Rinker said. “The student-athletes have been working really hard with the goal of running their best races in the Championships, so getting the chance to see the payoff on all of that hard work is exciting for me as a coach.”
Rinker believes having past experience running in Athens from the Bulldog SEC Preview will aid his teams’ efforts.
“Having already raced the course earlier in the year has given us a great sense of what to expect on the course,” Rinker mentioned. “Our goals are to run hard and race. If we do that, both the men’s and women’s teams can run well and exceed expectations.”
The Tigers and Lady Tigers will look to improve from last season’s SEC Championships as the men placed 11th, and the women finished in 12th. Returning for his junior season, Dajour Braxton led the men’s team last season, finishing in 30th place individually. Also returning for the Tigers are seniors DC Lipani, Daniel Tanner and Bryan Stamey. Sophomore Harrison Martingayle will add experience from last year’s conference championships as well.
Although freshman Eric Coston will be a newcomer to the SEC Championships, his impact has been evident as he has led the men’s team in the past two races. Rinker believes Coston along with Braxton and Martingayle will need to provide leadership for the men’s team.
“The men will be specifically led by Eric, Harrison and Dajour,” Rinker noted. “They have all done everything possible to be ready to go, so I’m looking for strong runs from them to lead the team.”
For the women, Rebecca Little is the lone senior that competed in last year’s SEC Championships. Juniors Hannah Bourque and Erika Lewis provide valuable experience from competing in last season’s meet as well.
Junior Ersula Farrow will be competing in her first SEC Championship, and she has paced the women’s team in four-consecutive races. Rinker has been impressed with Farrows’ performances this year, and also believes that junior Hollie Parker, making her season debut, can be valuable additions to the retuning runners for the women.
“For the women, I expect Ersula to really have a great showing Friday,” Rinker said. “Her level of training continues to impress me every week. It will also be exciting to see Hollie Parker make her season debut. She should race well with Erika and Hannah to give us some added depth.”
Rinker holds high hopes and expectations for both teams Friday. Although it is only his first year, he understands how much seniors, especially the current ones, can make his job easier through leading by example.
“It will be bittersweet for some of our seniors running their last SEC Championships,” Rinker mentioned. “DC, Daniel, Jack, Bryan and Rebecca have done so much for the cross country teams, so I hope we are able to send them off with good performances.”
After the Tigers and Lady Tigers finish the SEC Championships, both teams will have a two-week break before retuning to action in the NCAA South Central Regionals. The regional will be held in College Station, Texas at the Watts XC Course.
For the latest information on LSU’s men’s and women’s cross country teams, fans can follow the Tigers and Lady Tigers on Twitter @LSUTrackField and on Facebook by liking LSU Track and Field.