Oct. 24, 2007
Auburn, Ala. - The Auburn men's and women's cross country teams are set to compete in the SEC Championship hosted by the University of Kentucky in Lexington.
The event will be held Oct. 27 at the Kentucky Horse Park. The men's 10K will start at 10 a.m. The women's 6K will follow at 11 a.m.
Both teams hope to improve upon their 2006 finishes. The men's team finished 11th last year, the first time they did not finish in the top 10 since their first championship in 1935. The women's team finished 10th last year, also their worst finish in history.
"The men are determined to make a drastic change from last year, and so far this season they have shown they have it in them," said Auburn head coach Peter Watson. "The women are excited and ready to go. We have an ambitious team with a lot of individual goals for the weekend. If our young kids can keep their composure then we can look for a big result."
The men's team will count on sophomore Felix Kiboiywo to be their top finisher.
"Felix is training well and is very ready for this meet," Watson said. "He thrives on big meet situations and this is definitely big for us."
The Tigers are also looking for a strong outing from junior Chase Oliver and sophomores Simon Nyang and Scott Novack, who have all raced in the SEC Championship before. Novack earned the top spot for Auburn in last year's championships.
Senior Pat Philbin is being counted on for support and a strong race. Philbin placed 22nd as a sophomore at the 2004 SEC Championship and knows the level of competition he is up against.
"Pat has shown up and raced well at this meet before," Watson said. "He is stronger and more fit this year, so that's a good situation for us."
Freshman Joby Peake will also play a key role in Auburn's success.
"We are counting on Joby to do what he has done all year long which is run a strong controlled race and be close to our third and fourth runners," Watson said.
The women's team will count on their top runner Hollie Knight to be their front runner. Though only a freshman, Knight has finished in the top 10 in two races this year including a number one finish.
"Hollie has had very nice training this past week," Watson said. "I know she will line up and compete well."
Sophomores Sabrina Fischer and Laurel Pritchard, who had strong finishes in the Chile Pepper Festival 5K, have both raced at the championship before and know what to expect from the competition.
Sophomore Katelyn Simpson and freshmen Cathryn Albright and Allison Smith are also key factors in Auburn's success.
"It is very important that they place high," Watson said. "Katelyn has run at SEC's before so I am looking forward to her helping is this week."
"This is our most important meet of the year," Watson said. "This is a team sport and everyone knows their roles. I am confident they will fight for every position."