Auburn hosts 2018 SEC Cross Country Championships

SOURCE: AUBURN ATHLETICS

Auburn Athletics will host the 2018 Southeastern Conference Cross Country Championships at Indian Pines Golf Course in Auburn on Friday, Oct. 26. The women’s 6K race is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. CT, followed by the men’s race at 10 a.m.

It marks the fourth time in program history and first time since 2001 that Auburn has hosted the conference cross country championships. Auburn also hosted the championships in 1980 and 1989.

“It’s a big deal to host the championships,” Auburn distance and cross country coach David Barnett said. “The biggest thing about having support for a sport is having home competitions. It’s very hard for people to understand what you’re doing every single weekend when they can’t see it for themselves. And cross country is a great sport to get behind because at some point in everyone’s lives, they’ve been a runner. Whether they wanted to or not, they’ve been running.”

The Auburn men will be racing for the first time since Sept. 29 at the Louisville Classic. The Tigers’ lineup will include senior Alex Tucker, juniors Erik Armes, Ryan Lee, Tommy McDonough and Andy Smith, sophomore Jack Rogers, and freshman Silas Kipngetich. Kipngetich has been the Tigers’ top finisher in both meets this season, finishing fourth at the Auburn Invite and 44th overall at the Louisville Classic.

“It is definitely important to have the community be able to come out and see what we’re doing and get familiar with the athletes,” Barnett said. “A lot of times you see people walking around and you don’t know necessarily who they are or what they do. When you see them in their element, it’s a lot easier to keep that in mind, when you see them later on, so it’s definitely a big deal for us.”

On the women’s side, the Tiger will have 10 competitors, including seven underclassmen. Senior Brenda Kigen, a two-time NCAA Championship qualifier, will be making her 2018 debut for Auburn.  She finished fourth at the SEC Cross Country Championships as a freshman in 2015.  Other upperclassmen competing will be juniors Cassie Bebout and Frances Patrick.

The seven underclassmen competing on the women’s side include sophomores Joyce Kimeli, Mercy Kiprop, Louisa McPherson, Emily Mills and Presley Weems, along with freshmen Gigi Maddox and Hannah Tarwater.

The Indian Pines course has light undulation but is a relatively flat and fast two-kilometer loop on the back nine of the golf course.  Friday’s championships will mark the second time this season the Tigers have raced on familiar soil after hosting the Auburn Invite on Sept. 7.

“The takeaways are that it’s a fast course, not too many surprises,” Barnett said. “The biggest thing is you just have to get out, get out hard, because if you don’t, they’re not going to come back to you, especially at a championship meet. It’s a favorable course for us. I think the weather will be a factor as well, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out.”

The race will feature three men’s and three women’s programs ranked in the USTFCCCA Coaches’ Poll.  The Arkansas men are ranked 20th nationally and have won eight consecutive SEC titles, while the Razorback women are fifth nationally and winners of five straight SEC trophies.

Admission to the championships is free. Spectator parking will be available off-site at Duck Samford Park located at 333 Airport Road, Auburn, AL 36830. Fan shuttles will run from 8 a.m. CT until 12:30 p.m. CT.

A one-hour SEC Cross Country Championships highlight show will air on Sunday, Nov. 4 at 12 p.m. CT on the SEC Network.

Categories: Alabama Sports

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