OXFORD, Miss. - The Ole Miss cross country teams will begin the 2012 season with a new coaching staff for the first time in 30 years this season.
Mississippi native and former Ole Miss student-athlete Brian O’Neal helped turn Florida into a championship-caliber program and returned to the Rebels as the new track & field/cross country coach in June 2012, replacing Joe Walker, who had been at the helm of the Rebels’ program since 1988.
O’Neal’s first event to lead the Rebels comes at the Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic, hosted by Christian Brothers University this Saturday. The meet begins at 8:40 p.m. for the women and 9:20 p.m. for the men.
“We are excited to get started,” O’Neal said. “We are anxious to see who steps up and if there are any surprises.”
The Ole Miss women’s cross country team is ranked No. 4 in the preseason regional rankings by the USTFCCCA, while the men begin the season at No. 10 by the same organization.
“I’m eager to see who can play a part in a game-time situation,” O’Neal said. “This is only week one. Our goal is to get better each and every week until we go to the SEC Championship.”
With a strong preseason ranking, the women are looking to build off one of their best seasons in school history. The Rebels finished an all-time best fifth at the Southeastern Conference Cross Country Championships last year. Logan Waites became the school’s first All-SEC honoree in her senior year, while All-Region runner Katie Breathitt returns to lead the Rebels in her senior season.
O’Neal will look to build around senior Riley Young and juniors Max Holman and Loren Newsom, among others. The Rebels will have to replace Martin Kirui who was an All-SEC second-team runner during his final year of eligibility.
Ole Miss will get a boost from incoming freshman Seumas O’Reilly, who has been one of the top distance runners in the Virginia high school ranks throughout his career.
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