Wildcats Contend for SEC Cross Country Championship this Weekend

Oct. 30, 2009

OXFORD, Miss. - The Kentucky cross country teams will run in the Southeastern Conference Cross Country Championships held at the University of Mississippi Golf Course in Oxford, Miss., on Saturday.

The men's 8K race begins at 11:00 a.m. ET followed by the women's 6K race one hour later. In the preseason SEC coaches' poll both Blue and White squads were picked to finish 2009 in the same spot they placed at last season's Championships, sixth for the women and seventh on the men's side.

As a result of getting snowed out at the Penn State National Invitational two weeks ago, the Wildcats have not competed since October 3 at the Greater Louisville Classic.

"The championship season obviously takes on a greater importance for our teams," said UK assistant coach for cross country and distance John Mortimer. "Because of the snow-out at Penn State weeks ago, the teams have had nearly four solid weeks of uninterrupted training. Our teams have been sharpening their skills for a few weeks.

"With two freshmen, two sophomores, and a junior as the scoring five, our young men's squad is eager to make a big step forward into the top tier of the SEC. Likewise, our women have four freshmen in our top six runners. Additionally, the talented group of women's newcomers and two returners from last year's NCAA squad can be the best team we've had in a number of years.

This season the UK women rank sixth in the Southeast region heading into the Championships, matching their highest regional ranking of the regular season. The 2009 Cats return just two scorers from last year's squad that competed in the NCAA Championships - the first Kentucky team to run at the final meet in 19 seasons. Over the past two seasons, junior Katherine Peterson has scored in every UK meet while senior Lindsay Petri has just one finish outside the top five. Through three meets this season four freshmen have consistently joined the veterans in the UK top six providing an average gap of 32 seconds for runners one through six.

Two newcomers have earned SEC Female Freshman of the Week honors this season. The latest honoree, freshman Cally Macumber, has led the Wildcats across the finish line in the past two meets. Fellow winner Chelsea Oswald has finished among the top three for the Cats in each meet this season, and led UK at the Eastern Kentucky Invitational. First-year runner Samantha Norman has also scored in each meet this season while classmate Amanda Whowell has scored in one meet alongside two sixth-place finishes on the team in 2009.

On the men's side, Kentucky ranks ninth in the Southeast region. Junior Adam Henken, a 2008 NCAA Championship Individual competitor, has continued his consistency up front for the Cats. Since the 2007 SEC Championships in Lexington, Henken has finished no worse than third on the team with six top finishes.

This season two newcomers, freshmen Luis Orta and Matt Sonnenfeldt, have shared the spotlight with Henken in the top three. Each member of the trio has led the Cats across the finish line at one meet this season, while the other two follow immediately behind. Sonnenfeldt won SEC Male Freshman of the Week honors this season after posting the best time at the Eastern Kentucky Invitational. Orta led the Wildcats at the Old Timers Classic two weeks later. Sophomore Matt Wagner has scored in each meet for UK this year while classmates Josh Nadzam and Colin Heenan have rounded out the scoring for the Cats this season.

Click UKathletics.com for a full recap and results from the SEC Championships.