Auburn Cross Country team traveled to Oxford, Miss., for the SEC Championships Saturday.
The men’s team earned third place and the women’s team placed seventh.
The championships involved familiar competition, including Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky and Mississippi State.
On the men’s side, seniors Felix Kiboiywo and Jean-Pierre Weerts placed third and fourth, respectively, while junior Ben Cheruiyot came in fifth.
Head coach Mark Carroll praised his team’s performance.
“Overall, it went very well,” Carroll said. “On the men’s side, there were excellent results from Felix, Ben and Jean. It was just great to see them pack so well at the front and contend for the individual title. The three guys were right in the mix.”
Carroll said the championships created memorable moments.
“I think seeing Felix, Ben and Jean-Pierre together in the lead and in contention, contesting for the individual title, was great to see,” Carroll said. “I think that was a great highlight, seeing our guys go up against the best of the SEC.”
Senior Scott Novack said the team performed great, despite the tough competition.
“It went really well,” Novack said. “The guy’s team ran right where we were expecting them to run. We were fighting Alabama and Arkansas for the top three spots team-wise. Alabama and Arkansas ran a couple of good races and they came in first and second while we came in third. So, it was a good day. We’re right where we needed to be.”
The Alabama men’s team earned first place at the tournament, followed closely by second place, Arkansas.
“It was a good race,” Novack said. “We have a lot of veterans on our team; guys that ran before. We have some rookies on our team that just started to get used to competing in the SEC Championship, and I think it was a good wake-up call for them. The conditions weren’t great. It was a learning experience for everybody to get out in the mud and the wet ground and be able to fight through that to get to the finish line.”
For the women, juniors Holly Knight and Stephanie Barnes were among the top 10, placing sixth and eighth, respectively.
“Holly and Stephanie gave a very positive performance,” Carroll said. “It was followed up by Laurel Pritchard and Cathryn Albright who continued running very well. Grace Pritchard, Laurel’s younger sister, came close to being our No. 5 scorer. That day was the first time being scoring member of the team; it was great to see that. All in all, both teams performed very well.”
Knight said the weather was a big obstacle for the women’s team.
“It’s always a big stress on you when you have to run on the mud and the wet ground and the race is generally slower,” Knight said. “It’s more tactical.”
Out of the 12 teams competing, Florida took first place in the women’s competition followed by Tennessee and Arkansas.
“I think everyone performed well in how they wanted to perform,” Knight said. “Just overall, we would have liked to have done a little better.”
After two weeks off, the team will travel to Tuscaloosa for the NCAA Regionals Nov. 14.
There they will try to qualify for the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., Nov. 23.