By Jacob Most
Aug. 28, 2014 -
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Kentucky cross country teams will begin the 2014 season at the Belmont Opener at Percy Warner Park on Friday.
UK’s upperclassmen will be well-acquainted with the terrain, as they have competed at the Belmont Opener each of the past two years. Additionally the 2012 Southeastern Conference Cross Country Championships, hosted by Vanderbilt, were held at Warner Park.
Both the women’s and men’s races will be over 5,000 meters. The women's race is slated to begin at 5:30 p.m. followed by the men's race at 6 p.m.
The fields will consist of Belmont, Bethel (Tenn.), Evansville, Lipscomb, Middle Tennessee State, Purdue, UAB, Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky, Austin Peay, Murray State, and Tennessee State.
“This is the beginning of another year for us,” head coach Edrick Floréal said. “The potential that they have is pretty cool because you're not really sure if it’s going to materialize so like Forest Gump says, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get from the freshman.’
“But it’s an exciting thing they're so full of energy and excited and ready for the process to begin that we get caught up in their excitement and moving forward and seeing what we can get accomplished as a team. As always, my goal and our goal is to do better than the previous year. We try to keep it as simple as possible.”
Matt Hillenbrand’s is primed to lead the Wildcats in this his senior season. He was an All-SEC selection in cross country last year. He went on to win two SEC Championships on the indoor track, and be named an All-American twice as well.
On the women’s side, Cassidy Hale returns for her sophomore season looking to build off a SEC All-Freshman team selection in 2013.
Hillenbrand led UK at the Belmont Opener last year with a fifth place finish overall.
In the past the Belmont Opener has been scored with a unique dual meet format, with UK only scored against the other two SEC opponents in the field.
Last year both the men’s and women’s teams split the results against UT and Vandy.
The UK Men defeated Vandy, but lost to UT. The UK women beat UT, but dropped the dual meet to Vandy.
The UK men’s team is ranked preseason No. 11 within the Southeast Region, while the women are ranked No. 13 within the region.
Final results from the Belmont Opener can be found online on www.belmontbruins.com or through the CFPI Timing website at www.cfpitiming.com.