Sept. 29, 2007
AUBURN - The Auburn men's cross country team finished in third place and the women placed fourth at the Tiger Invitational held at Indian Pines Golf Course Saturday morning. Sophomore Felix Kiboiywo finished fifth in the men's race to lead the Auburn contingent, while freshman Hollie Knight was the Tigers' top finisher in the women's race, placing seventh.
Florida took the team titles in both races. In the men's 8k race, the Gators scored 24 points to easily outdistance LSU (74 points) and Auburn (80) in the 16-team field. Florida had a much closer contest in the women's 5k race, but edged No. 14 Iowa 41-45. Davidson placed third with 148 points, with Auburn scoring 162 to place fourth out of 22 schools.
Kiboiywo posted a time of 24:14.70 to earn a fifth-place finish for the Auburn men, and has been Auburn's top finisher at all three meets this season. Senior Patrick Philbin was next for Auburn, placing 11th with a time of 24:43.70, while junior Chase Oliver (25:23.64) and sophomore Simon Nyang (25:24.60) finished 20th and 21st, respectively.
"The competition was really good today, going up against teams like Florida and LSU," said Kiboiywo. "I'm still recovering a little from the last meet in Georgia, but I think I did alright. It was a really fast course and I ran my fastest time. It was a tough day out there. It was really windy and the course is very hilly."
Freshman Joby Peake rounded out the scoring for Auburn by placing 23rd in 25:35.07. Also running for Auburn were sophomore Scott Novack (42nd, 26:11.95), sophomore Mark Fleming (58th, 26:20.00), sophomore David Wall (66th, 26:32.46), freshman James Grantham (71st, 26:41.37), freshman Charles Mitchell (73rd, 26:44.72), freshman Nick Walsh (76th, 26:46.25) and freshman Bryan Wilson (133rd, 28:25.25).
"Florida was good," said head coach Peter Watson. "We thought that Florida might finish ahead of us, but we hoped to have a closer showing. Felix had an off-day, but he was still fifth. He has the talent that he can escape from an off day and still be fine. Patrick Philbin, a senior, did a great job. He is consistent, coming through the field and I know I can always count on him."
Knight posted a time of 17:00.51 to place seventh in the women's race for Auburn. She sat out last weekend's Bulldog Stampede Invitational due to a minor injury, but bounced back with a strong performance.
"It was a flat and fast course and I think I'm a better hill runner, but it was a good experience getting out there after being down for a couple of weeks," said Knight. "I've had some Achilles problems and it was a bit tight today, so that may have hindered me a bit and I really haven't been training for about two weeks. Overall, having been out of training, I felt good about my performance and being able to place in the top 10."
"Having Hollie come back out and race was great, and she did a great job of front-running for us," said Watson. "It was a good rust-breaker for her. She was a little disappointed in her run and we know that she can run better than that. She missed a lot of training, but she got back into the swing of things this week. She is coming around and just has to get that groove back."
Three other Tigers placed near the front of the pack, but the fifth-place spot cost Auburn a chance for a better team finish. Sophomore Laurel Pritchard was the next-best runner, placing 25th in 17:49.39, while freshman Amber Riley was one spot behind with a time of 17:52.59. Sophomore Sabrina Fischer finished 31st in 18:05.16, and freshman Allison Smith completed the scoring by finishing 73rd in 19:20.60.
Others competing for Auburn included freshman Cathryn Albright (78th, 19:26.87), sophomore Katelyn Simpson (81st, 19:31.41), freshman Madeleine Collins (107th, 20:03.99) and junior Katherine Childs (182nd, 23:54.04).
"I'm terribly disappointed," said Watson. "The top four girls were pretty solid, but we need someone to step up and take that No. 5 spot for us, make us a little deeper and a little better."
The Tigers will be off next weekend before competing at the Chile Pepper Festival hosted by Arkansas Oct. 13.
"It's the same thing as last week," said Watson. "We don't back down on training, we just keep going. Everything that matters is SECs and Regionals. Until then, this is still preseason to us. In two weeks, we will race at the Arkansas Chile Pepper. I know the kids will come out more prepared and have a better performance for us."