Cross Country Closes Exciting Season
Jan. 13, 2003
LEXINGTON, Ky. - This season, Kentucky seemed to find the perfect mix of distance runners to put together a highly successful women's cross country season. The team enjoyed its highest finish in 13 seasons by taking second-place honors at the Southeastern Conference Championship in Gainesville, Fla., in November. UK was led by All-SEC performers Caitlin Phillips, Brooke Patterson and Allison Grace.
The Wildcats' success seemed to shock those around the league, but not UK coach Don Weber.
"The women ran very well at SEC's, obviously," Weber said. "After the way they've been racing and competing all season, it wasn't unexpected. I'm very pleased with their approach to competing all year and it paid off for them at the conference championships."
Kentucky's top three runners all finished in the top-10 and the team advanced to the NCAA South Regional, where the group finished eighth overall, just missing a spot in the NCAA Championships. Phillips, a two-time All-SEC cross country runner, advanced to the NCAA Championships for the first time in her career.
The Wildcats first appeared on the radar at Florida's Gator Invitational, taking second place and edging out the host team led by Phillips in second place. Patterson and Grace both finished in the top-10, while freshman Leah Kerstetter and newcomer Roseline Addo also had top-15 finishes. The team went on to finish fourth at the Auburn Invitational, with Phillips again leading the team in fifth place. At the SEC meet, Kentucky knew it had a shot at finishing in the top-three, but was able to take second place to Arkansas's title after edging out Tennessee.
David Freeman was a powerful leader for UK's men's team in 2002 as well, recording four top-10 finishes throughout the season. His 10th-place finish at the SEC Championship earned him All-SEC honors as well. Freeman opened the season with back-to-back second-place nods at the Woodford County Trials and the Western Kentucky Old Timers Classic before he led his team to the Florida Gator Invitational.
The men took eighth place in the season's first team-scoring event. Freeman finished 20th overall, just behind senior Kevin O'Connor. The team then traveled to Auburn, again taking eighth-place as a team. Freeman was back on top for his team, finishing eighth in his final preparation for the SEC Championships. After taking 10th at the league title run, Freeman competed at the NCAA South Regional in Greenville, N.C. Freeman closed his successful seasons with a 31st-place showing at the event, his first 10k race of the year.
With the 2002 season in the books, the team has already begun preparations for 2003. The women's squad returns all performers from this year's successful squad, including its three top-10 finishers from the SEC Championships. The men will continue to grow with the return of All-SEC performers from two seasons ago, Tomas Morgan and Hunter Spencer, proving its an exciting time to be involved with cross country at Kentucky.