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Cross Country Prepares for NCAA Southeast Regional
Women's Cross Country  . 

Cross Country Prepares for NCAA Southeast Regional

Live Results

Nov. 13, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – After a two-week break in competition, the South Carolina cross country team is back at it Friday with the NCAA Southeast Regional, held in Louisville, Ky. The Gamecocks will take on 43 other Division I schools from the surrounding area and are aiming to improve on a 14th-place finish in the 2013 regional race.

Competing for USC will be Stephanie Berger, Meri Heneage, Christine Kent, Ashley Miller, Mary Reiser, Anna Todd and Monica York. Of the seven participants who will race, two are freshman and none are seniors.
“In all these situations you need to de-pressurize when you have young teams,” said Andrew Allden, Assistant Track and Field Coach for Distance/Cross Country. “It is a race for veterans, and hopefully the experience they gain will help them in the future.”
The team practiced on the course, at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park, Thursday afternoon and Allden was optimistic with the team’s chances on the course as it faces light winds and temperatures in the mid-30s at race time Friday at 12 p.m EST.
“My message to the team has been `hey, let’s go show people where we really are.'” Allden said. “This is probably the easiest 6K course we’ve run all year, so the opportunity is there to excel and show people we’re a top 15 team in the region.”
The team finished 13th at the SEC Championships, which was won by host Arkansas. Anna Todd was the team’s top finisher by over a minute, placing 36th overall with a time of 21:03.5 that came just a few seconds short of a new personal best. Stephanie Berger (22:16.3) and Mary Reiser (22:18.6) finished back-to-back in 87th and 88th place, respectively, to round out the top three for USC.
In all five meets that Todd has competed in this season, the junior has led the Gamecocks, posting personal best times in each of her last three meets (Charlotte Invitational 6K, 21:58.9; Paul Short Run 6K, 21:02; Crimson Classic 5K, 17:44.9) coming into the SEC Championship. At the conference meet, she ran just over a second off her career-best time that was set at the Paul Short run, where she ran the fifth-fastest 6K time in program history.
Freshman Monica York claimed her first win at South Carolina on Oct . 8, finishing the two-mile race at the USC Open #2 in 11:53.95. That still stands as the 19th-fastest two-mile time among all SEC women’s runners for the season. On Oct. 14, she was named SEC Freshman Runner of the Week for the win. She led the Gamecocks to their fourth win of the season and third at home. This season, she has two other top-20 finishes to go along with her win.
On Oct. 4, South Carolina sent 12 athletes to the 41st Annual Paul Short Run in Bethlehem, Pa., with 10 of them returning home with a new personal record in the 6K. The Gold 6K featured more than 20 teams that were ranked in the Top 15 of their region, including three Top 15 teams nationally and the University of Guelph of Ontario, which won the competition.
Anna Todd led the Gamecocks as the junior ran the fifth-fastest time in school history at 21:02 at the Paul Short Run. Her time is just over 21 seconds shy of teammate Kayla Lampe’s school record, which was set in 2012. Only three Carolina runners have posted a faster time than Todd, with each earning All-SEC honors at one point during their careers.
With South Carolina’s win on Sept. 26 at the Charlotte Invitational, the Gamecocks won their third-straight meet for the first time during the 2000s.
With her individual win at the Charlotte Invitational, Todd grabbed her second win in as many meets after sitting out South Carolina’s first meet of the season. In the process of the win, Todd set a then-personal best in the 6K with a time of 21:58.9, more than 21 seconds faster than her previous best from 2013.
With 15 freshman, 13 being true freshmen, on this year’s roster, several of the team’s most experienced runners have been stepping up this season. Todd and fellow junior Stephanie Berger have accounted for the team’s three of the team’s four individual wins. The two, along with junior Christine Kent and sophomore Mary Reiser did not finish outside of the top eight in any of Carolina’s first three meets of the season.
Although Carolina has won its opening two meets several times since 2000, one thing the team has never done until this season is score a perfect 15 points in each of its opening wins.
In its opening two meets, South Carolina runners continuously finished one after another. At the Gamecock Invitational, Carolina went 1-9 and placed 13 runners in the top 15. Two weeks later, at the USC Open #1, the Gamecocks had 17 racers finish in the top 20.
At the opening meet of the season, the Carolina Invitational 5K, junior Stephanie Berger earned the first win of her Gamecock career. The West Salem, Ohio, native clocked in at 19:00.65 to lead a pack of eight Gamecocks as Carolina finished 1-9.
The win at the Carolina Invitational marked the third time in the last four years that South Carolina claimed a win in its season-opening meet.
Of the eight freshmen that competed for the Gamecocks in the opening meet, six being true freshmen, all eight finished in the top 15. True freshman Allie Sprague was the top finisher of the group, claiming second with a time of 19:14.26.
Two weeks later, the Gamecocks again placed eight freshmen in the top 15, with seven being true freshmen. Hannah Giangaspro led the group with a third-place finish with a time of 18:50.46. She was one of four runners with a sub-19-minute time.
Coach Allden has considered this year’s freshman class “top-to-bottom to be one of the strongest recruiting classes [the program] has had.” Leading the group of 13 are Florida natives Giangaspro, a top 3200-meter runner in the state, and Harding, who posted a Top 30 nationally in the 1600 meters in 2013. Outside of Florida, the freshman class hails from the Carolinas, the Mid-Atlantic region and Illinois.
Mary Reiser is one of the top returners to the team for 2014, after becoming the third freshman from South Carolina to be named to the conference’s All-Freshman Team in the last six years after she placed 33rd at the SEC Championships in 2013. Reiser set the fifth-fastest 5K time in school history at the Royal Cross Country Challenge at 17:39.0 and finished in the top 30 at the NCAA Southeast Regional.
Joining Reiser on this year’s SEC Cross Country Preseason Watch List was Kayla Lampe, who did not compete during the 2013 season due to injury, but returned to compete this season at the Paul Short Invitational, posting a 6K time of 22:24. The redshirt junior garnered SEC All-Freshman Team honors in 2012 and Second-Team All-SEC accolades with a 13th-place showing at the SEC Championships (21:02.30). Later that season, she earned All-Southeast Region honors, finishing eighth with a time of 20:40.43, which is the fastest 6K time in South Carolina history.

Despite losing their top runner from a season ago, the Gamecocks returned the best five runners behind her in Mary Reiser (sophomore), Anna Todd (junior), Stephanie Berger (junior), Christine Kent (junior) and Kayla Lampe (junior).
With 27 athletes on the 2014 roster, the Gamecocks have 13 new faces on the team this fall that mix in with six others who joined the program last year, meaning 70 percent of the team has only been at South Carolina for a year or less.
The Gamecocks are led by second-year coach Andrew Allden as assistant track coach in charge of distance and cross country, who reunited last year with head track and field coach Curtis Frye after 12 years away from Columbia. Allden brings 28 years of coaching experience to the Gamecocks in regards to training.