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This weekend, Cally Macumber will look to improve on a sixth-place finish at last season's NCAA Championships. (Chet White, UK Athletics) This weekend, Cally Macumber will look to improve on a sixth-place finish at last season's NCAA Championships. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
As Cally Macumber races at the NCAA Cross Country Championships Saturday in Terre Haute, Ind., for the second consecutive year, she does so following an exciting second-place finish at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships Nov. 15 in Charlottesville, Va.

The UK senior passed two runners in the final 50 meters of the 6,000-meter race and made up a 15-meter gap to secure a spot in Saturday's national championship event.

Her finish of 20:07.90 solidified an NCAA Championship bid and was just 0.80 seconds ahead of Virginia's Barbara Strehler and Duke's Juliet Bottorff, who both posted a 20:08.70. Emily Stites of William and Mary won the event in 19:57.5.

It was that final 50-meter kick that gives the Rochester Hills, Mich., native a chance to compete for a national title.

"She was probably 30 or 40 yards back with about 300 meters left and made a fantastic move," UK head coach Edrick Floreal said. "It's just being in the zone, like a basketball player making six or seven in a row. It's a jolt of confidence, and you sort of have to have that 'I don't want to lose' mentality.

"It was a single file line that was probably about six or seven girls long. Cally, in that big homestretch at one point went left and came back right and passed another one, it was kind of amazing, just to watch that confidence. We talked after the SEC Championships, and she didn't do what we thought was her best and we talked about being a champion and finding a way to becoming that champion, one that people talk about. She is making strides to become that."

That can't-lose attitude was what got Macumber a runner-up finish and a place on the All-Southeast Regional team for the second consecutive season.

"Whenever you see the finish line, you get that extra boost," Macumber said of her sprint to the finish. "I just get really happy to see the finish line and start sprinting. The energy from having all the cheering fans gets me to sprint."

After a break-out season in 2012, Macumber has raced this season with a target on her back. It's something she has grown to accept and a challenge she has taken head on.

"She is becoming aware of her abilities," Floreal said. "She's aware, and everyone else is aware. People are building their strategies based off of her, and that's a sign of respect. You also have to embrace that and convince them that this plan won't work, I can adjust too."

Macumber has adjusted well, and her sprint to the finish at the NCAA Regionals was the perfect example. Now, it's time to bring it one last time.

"I need to keep focused and not think about that too much," Macumber said of the expectations. "It's just another race and I have to make sure I stay composed and do the best I can."

As the lone Kentucky runner in her final collegiate cross-country competition Saturday, she'll be racing all alone for the Blue and White.

"I definitely feel like I'm representing our team, and I want to represent us well," Macumber said. "I'm going to try and finish as high up as possible."

Being the only runner from UK and having lofty expectations won't faze her though. As Macumber said, "It's just another race."

Only this time, there will be a lot more people cheering as she nears that finish line.

UK cross country will compete in NCAA Regionals in Charlottesville, Va., on Friday. (Jake Most, UK Athletics) UK cross country will compete in NCAA Regionals in Charlottesville, Va., on Friday. (Jake Most, UK Athletics)
For as much as cross country is an individual sport, at the University of Kentucky, it's all about the team.

The message that Sean Graham and Hakon DeVries, UK's men's and women's cross country coaches, have stressed to the Wildcats is the importance of running and working together. Even with Cally Macumber -- one of three Wildcats to qualify for the NCAA Championships last season and the defending regional champion -- on the roster, it's a team-first attitude.

That will definitely be the case as UK returns to the NCAA Southeast Regional Friday in Charlottesville, Va.

At last week's SEC Championship, that teamwork and preparation throughout the season paid off in the form of a third-place finish for the women and a No. 5 finish from the men. Both were improvements over last year's finish, the first year under head coach Edrick Floreal.

"Throughout the season we try to hammer home the point of working together in races," DeVries said of his women's squad. "I think that element really showed up at SECs. The team worked together well and overcame some adversity. Overall, we're building and this Friday hopefully will be even more of a team effort then it was at SECs two weeks ago."

The key is to run with a teammate, and feed off of each other. Practices and races earlier in the season were vital to determine who runs best with whom. Graham, in his first season in Lexington with the UK men, has seen the growth and improvement this season as he has stressed the team approach since day one.

"It's improved throughout the season and benefited us at SECs," Graham said. "The guys are figuring out who they're compatible with, and how that benefits us as a team. I think it helps that we train with this mentality for the entire season. They have a demeanor of 'how am I doing, how am I competing to help the team be better.' The mentality that they need to work really hard to get the team better has hit home, especially after a good performance at SECs."

With any team sport, there are certain individuals who excel beyond the rest, and cross country is undoubtedly no exception. For Kentucky, the presence of Macumber at the front of the pack is the ultimate distraction for her teammates, not something that destroys that important team philosophy.

With the Wildcats' team-first approach, Macumber's success just helps take the pressure off her teammates and helps them run. It's the perfect scenario for the UK women, especially since all Macumber cares about is the team.

"Cally is all about the team first, she wants to team to make NCAAs so badly, and would trade any individual performance for that," DeVries said. "For her to take some of the spotlight and pressure on herself has been great for the team and allowed them to really develop throughout the year."

Going into the SEC Championships, the goal was to improve off of last season's conference championship performance. With a team-first mindset, it was mission accomplished: two spots higher for the men, one for the women. Now, the focus has been to keep the momentum going. As the Wildcats see the payoff from their training, the last two weeks have come together.

"The last two weeks have been great," DeVries said. "The results of SECs fired up the team even more to get them to realize their full potential as a team. Us as coaches have seen it for a while, but until you have that breakout performance, it really changed the attitude and demeanor of the group."

"It's been really good," Graham added. "It's basically just sharpening. All the real work was done over the summer and early in the season. Now that we've put that work in, the last two weeks have been just getting ready for Friday. Everything's come together well."

Friday in Charlottesville, the Wildcats will look to take everything they've focused on and prepared for to the course. The men's 10,000 meter race begins at noon, ET, while the women leave the starting line at 1:15 p.m. for a six-kilometer race. 

The top two teams and top four individuals at each of the nine regional sites will automatically advance to the NCAA Championships to be held in Terre Haute, Ind., on Saturday, Nov. 23. Thirteen teams will also earn at-large bids, to be announced on Saturday, Nov. 16.

Cally-Program.jpg
At one point this offseason while Edrick Floreal was interviewing candidates to take over as men's distance coach, one of the team's top runners - Matt Hillenbrand - was calling his head coach every other day to see how the search was going.

"For a while there I was thinking, 'At least he wasn't calling me every day,' but then I found out the days he wasn't calling me he was talking to women's distance coach Hakon DeVries about the search," Floreal said. "But it shows just how much he cares about our program. You want to have people who are invested in the program.

"I'm glad we hired Coach Sean Graham to work directly with our men's distance runners because now Matt can blow up Graham's phone instead of mine. I admired that Matt takes ownership of our program because we are trying to build something where we talk about our team, not my or your team."

Hillenbrand's hands-on approach very much embodies the commitment Floreal and his staff asked of the team upon arriving in Lexington late in the summer of 2012. Some Wildcats showed results right away, while others, like Hillenbrand, took time to perform up to their abilities.

This article appears in the UK vs. Alabama football game 0rogram. UK vs. Alabama football game programs are available inside Commonwealth Stadium.
Floreal's team had to buy in. Such was the first message Floreal delivered to the Wildcats upon meeting them. Some just took longer to do so than others.

At the forefront of buying in, and as such experiencing stellar results, was Cally Macumber. The women's distance standout embraced a new training plan under DeVries, she began running times she had never ever considered when setting goals before the season and eventually she won the Southeastern Conference and NCAA Southeast Region Championships before continuing a great year in track.

"Starting out as a freshman in college, who couldn't break five minutes in the mile and couldn't run under 2:17 in the 800, I definitely would not have thought that things would have progressed the way they did," Macumber said. "Going into college you really have no idea what to expect, but each year your standards and goals change and mine definitely changed for the better last year. Coming into last cross country season with an entirely new coaching staff and an entirely new training plan there was an adjustment period. However, once we all got the hang of things I started to feel better and stronger than I ever had - we all did."

Hillenbrand too, saw improved results, but they didn't come as quickly as they did for Macumber. Instead he experienced a great deal of trial and error before seeing the desired results.MH-.jpg

"Some people on the team got a grasp of everything and made a quick turnaround and that's really what you want," Floreal said. "With some people it took a little bit. We tried a few things with Matt, including some longer distances and a little bit of steeplechase. Having a guy that will try everything to get to the next level is they type of person you want.

"Later in the season he really turned things around when he decided to showcase how talented he was. He helped the team in numerous ways. It's credit to his work ethic, and his belief in the process."

Hillenbrand was a middle-of-the pack finisher for most of the 2012 cross country season, and those types of results continued into the 2013 indoor track season. All throughout, he was experimenting at different distances while adjusting to a higher-volume training regimen under the new coaching staff.

The work began to pay dividends at the Indoor SEC Championships. In the Mile Final, Hillenbrand surged on the last straightaway of Arkansas' 200-meter track to knock off the defending conference champion from the powerhouse hosts, and claim a photo-finish SEC title. The win was the first in a string of strong results, which culminated in outdoor All-America status. More broadly the win meant a realization that goals which may have seemed impossible when initially proposed by the new coaches months earlier were in fact within grasp.

Hillenbrand's success continued into the outdoor season when he qualified for the NCAA Championships for the first time in his career, where he was named an All-American at 1,600 meters.

Macumber and Hillenbrand have continued to progress into the early stages of the 2013 cross country season. The two are part of a small group of Wildcats that have experienced success in the first year and change under Floreal's leadership.

More is expected from more people. Additional numbers are needed to reach Floreal's ultimate goals for a program which encompasses six sports: men's and women's cross country, men's and women's indoor track and field and men's and women's outdoor track and field.

Floreal's first recruiting class made up of 49 athletes - with 55 individual high school state titles, 17 college All-America honors and 16 college conference titles (from college transfers) divided among the class - says as much.

"I would probably define our team as 'under construction,' " Floreal said. "We spent most of our time developing our top-runners and integrating our freshmen.  We continue to test the foundation of the house we have spent the last few months building."



Video: Behind the scenes at cross country photo day

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Video: Chelsea Oswald's SEC PSA

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This spring, Chelsea Oswald of UK track and field/cross country won the Southeastern Conference's prestigious H. Boyd McWhorter Scholarship for her outstanding academic record. Now, she's featured in a public service announcement you'll likely be seeing often as you watch SEC football games this fall. Take a look.


Cally Macumber won the 2012 SEC Cross Country Championship. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Cally Macumber won the 2012 SEC Cross Country Championship. (Michael Rivera, UK Athletics)
It's a journey that began on July 9, 2012 when Edrick Floreal was named the University of Kentucky's track and field head coach. With the first year behind them, the beginning of the cross country season signals the beginning of year two of Floreal's bid to shape UK into a national power.

As Floreal and the UK cross country program begin their second season together, they do so with greater familiarity, but also with plenty of additional pieces.

A cast of 19 new student-athletes joins the program this year, in addition to first-year men's cross country coach Sean Graham. The foundation that returns from last season, which includes Floreal, several additional assistant coaches and 13 returning student-athletes, will be the base as the Wildcats continue to build.

"Pretty simply, this is year two of the little journey we began last year," Floreal said. "We're looking forward to moving forward to cross country, getting our team to do better than last year, which is our goal from year to year, just keep improving from year to year and putting a product out there that's worthy of what the University of Kentucky deserves."

The cross country season acts as the perfect springboard into track and field in the winter and spring for the Wildcats.

In year two, despite the arrival of numerous newcomers, the learning curve won't be as big for the coaching staff and the student-athletes. As Floreal works to mold the team in the way he sees best, his idea becomes clearer.

The goal, simply, is to have people take notice of Kentucky. Competing in one of the nation's toughest conferences, that is no easy task.

"We want to be relevant, which is my goal," Floreal said. "People say competitive, but that can kind of be a fluffy word, with whatever that means. To me, I want to be relevant.

"Relevant is, if we go into a cross country championship at the SEC, if we don't show up, I want to make sure that our presence is felt. Sometimes you don't come and nobody will know if you were there or not. But for me, relevant is that people see us walking in, and they know, 'OK, these guys are here to do business, they're going to give it their best shot.' "

Last season was a step in the right direction. Cally Macumber helped make Kentucky relevant when she won the SEC Cross Country Championship. It was the first individual conference title for any UK woman since 1989 and the second championship in team history.

As a team, the Wildcat women finished fifth, while the men placed sixth in 2012. This year, the expectations are to do better.

"Summer training went really well," said Macumber. "I know the other girls' summer training went really well and we're just excited to be back, ready to train and ready to start the year out fresh."

Macumber finished sixth at the 2012 NCAA Cross Country Championships.

On the men's team, Graham's hiring as assistant coach and cross country coach on Aug. 19 is the newest piece to the puzzle.

Graham, who spent last year as an assistant coach at American University, was an Olympic Trials finalist in the 5,000 meter in 2004. He has trained with both the Nike Farm team and the Oregon Track Club Elite after competing collegiately for the College of William and Mary.

"We feel that Coach Graham has all the necessary abilities and qualities that we look for in a coach, and he's absolutely in love with the idea of coaching here at UK," Floreal said. "That was very important to me, I wanted somebody that saw this as an opportunity of a lifetime, that just adores the chance to work with our kids and to service them and be a mentor to them."

Graham's attitude and enthusiasm is sure to rub off on the UK runners. While it will be a new philosophy and set of ideas from their coach, the Wildcats should have no problem finding the energy.

When year two begins in Nashville at the Belmont Opener on Aug. 30, it will start another leg of Floreal's journey at Kentucky.

Live stream: Fall sports media day

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At 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday, coaches and student-athletes from four UK fall sports teams - volleyball, cross country, women's soccer and men's soccer - will preview their upcoming seasons at fall sports media day. Here's the schedule:

1:00 p.m. - Volleyball head coach Craig Skinner and student-athletes Whitney Billings and Alexandra Morgan
1:15 p.m. - Cross country head coach Edrick Floreal and student-athletes Cally Macumber and Matt Hillenbrand
1:30 p.m. - Women's Soccer head coach Jon Lipsitz and student-athlete Kayla King
1:45 p.m. - Men's Soccer head coach Johan Cedergren and student-athletes Tyler Riggs and Jack Van Arsdale

You can watch it all live below.


Megan Broderick was a standout in tennis and later cross country before graduating from UK in 2012. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Megan Broderick was a standout in tennis and later cross country before graduating from UK in 2012. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Former UK tennis and cross country standout Megan Broderick is taking her professional career to the next level. Just a year after graduating from Kentucky, Broderick has found a home coaching at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy in New York City, while also working part-time for ESPN's production department at the Grand Slams.

Tennis may be Broderick's focus now, but that wasn't always the case for the multi-sport athlete.

Broderick's natural athletic ability allowed her to try her hand at almost every sport imaginable growing up, including basketball, gymnastics, soccer and, of course, tennis. However, playing competitive soccer and tennis at the same time is no easy feat, so at age 12 her parents told her to make a choice. Giving up soccer was tough, but Broderick committed to tennis and started traveling the country playing in tournaments.

Coming to Kentucky

The Wisconsin native moved to Tampa, Florida, when she was 15 years old and continued to pursue her tennis career. She started drawing attention from elite college coaches around the country, but wasn't satisfied with her early recruiting visits.

"I took my first four, and nothing really felt like it fit," said Broderick. "I came home and my dad mentioned that the UK coach was very interested in me. I was hesitant at first because I didn't know much about Kentucky, and I thought it was just out in the middle of nowhere. But I took a trip and I fit in really well with the team. Lexington was a good fit for me."

Aside from excelling in tennis and later cross country, Broderick gained more than just athletic accolades while she was at UK. Her five years as a student-athlete are a big reason why she has already had such a successful career after college.

"Just playing sports for a college teaches you a lot of discipline, and you have to interact with a lot of people throughout the day," said Broderick. "It really teaches you how to communicate with people and how to deal with diversity. Also, you're meeting people from around the world. It's been through those connections that I've been able to do other things and reach other opportunities."

Broderick's relationships with her college teammates helped broaden her outlook and build connections with people around the world, which has no doubt helped her in her professional career.

Megan Broderick works as a coach at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy in New York City. (Photo via Megan Broderick) Megan Broderick works as a coach at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy in New York City. (Photo via Megan Broderick)
Life after graduation

Anyone who knows Broderick will tell you that she is a fierce competitor, so it's no surprise that after she graduated in 2012, she hit the ground running.  She began working for John McEnroe Tennis Academy - known commonly as Sportime - in New York City as a coach for young kids hoping to follow in her footsteps.

After a year of coaching, she also became good friends with John McEnroe's younger brother, Patrick, who has helped her pursue her career in broadcast journalism.  

"Through him I got connected to the production manager at ESPN, and they had some spots as 'runners' for Wimbledon," said Broderick. "So I took the job and went to Wimbledon for three weeks doing a lot of small work."

Broderick may have spent many mornings doing "run-downs" or getting coffee for the staff, but she also gained a lot of valuable experience in the world of television.

"It really opened my eyes to what goes on behind the scenes and see if this is something that I want to pursue," said Broderick. "I met the commentators and was able to have conversations with a lot of people at ESPN. It connected me to more people and pushed me in the direction I want to take my career."

Broderick returned from London and was relocated to one of Sportime's locations in the Hamptons, where she is back coaching. However, she plans on taking another part-time job with ESPN at the U.S. Open in New York City at the end of August.

What comes next?

Megan Broderick worked behind the scenes for ESPN at Wimbledon this summer. (Photo via Megan Broderick) Megan Broderick worked behind the scenes for ESPN at Wimbledon this summer. (Photo via Megan Broderick)
Once again, Broderick is approaching a crossroads in her career. She may not have to choose between coaching or broadcast just yet, but she is definitely looking toward the future.

"I think that coaching is amazing, and it's something that I have a lot of passion for," said Broderick. "At the same time I do see myself pursuing a broadcast career. I think that going to Wimbledon and working for ESPN reaffirmed that. "

Meanwhile, she is using her experience at Wimbledon to help take her coaching career to the next level.

"I'd never had time to see a grand slam from start to finish," said Broderick. "It helped me as a coach because I could watch matches live and see and hear different things than I would on TV. It gives you an insight to what the players are dealing with and what really goes on day-to-day at the tournament."

She also got to see how much work goes into putting together a grand slam and gained an even greater appreciation for the production staff, whom she referred to as the "real superstars."

"You have people who are producing the match live and people trying to get certain angles and see expressions during all the matches," said Broderick. "It kind of added a little bit to the whole experience."

A word of advice

Not every student-athlete gets a chance to pursue his or her passion beyond college, but Broderick has always kept her dreams in sight.

On one tennis trip while she was at UK, the entire team decided to purchase lottery tickets at a gas station on the side of the road. After purchasing the tickets, Broderick and her teammates discussed what they would do if they won the lottery, which forced her to think about what she wanted to do with her life.

"You have to ask yourself, 'If I had the means to, what would I be doing right now?' " said Broderick. "I think you should always have that outlook. That nothing can stop you from reaching your goals if you really want them."

Broderick has used this theory with her tennis students as well.

"I ask some of them why they play tennis, and they always answer the same way I did, 'I don't know. I just love it,' " said Broderick. "I think that's how it starts. You realize it's a part of you, and it makes it easier to want to give back to the sport. It's really rewarding."

Although she isn't a permanent employee of ESPN just yet, Broderick is taking her own advice and pursuing her love of tennis to the fullest. Meanwhile, she is enjoying her coaching career and her new life in New York.  

"At this point in my life, it's somewhere I can see myself for a few years," said Broderick. "I think New York City has a lot of motivated and career-driven people. It inspires you everyday to go after your dreams and get things done."

Clearly, Broderick has taken that inspiration to heart.

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