OXFORD, Miss. - The Ole Miss cross country teams are set to participate in the 2012 Southeastern Conference Cross Country Championships on Friday, hosted by Vanderbilt University.
The meet will be held at Vaughn's Gap in Nashville's Percy Warner Park, a course the Rebels are familiar with after competing in the Commodore Classic on Sept. 15.
The women's 6K race is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. CT, and the men will follow on an 8K course at 11 a.m. Admission to the event is free.
"We are excited to compete on Friday," said first-year head coach Brian O'Neal. "We are the healthiest we have been and look forward to competing at a high level. Our main goal is to make the Rebel Nation proud."
The Ole Miss women, ranked No. 5 in the South Region, are hoping to repeat the success they had at last year's meet. The women earned their best finish in school history with a fifth-place showing at the 2011 SEC Cross Country Championships.
Senior Katie Breathitt, who claimed first place on the same course earlier this year, has led the Rebel women all season. The Lexington, Ky., native finished last year's SEC Championship meet in 15th place, just one spot shy of earning All-SEC recognition.
The Rebels have also had strong performances from fellow seniors Anne Threlkeld and Kelsey Breathitt, Katie's twin sister, this season. Threlkeld had a 46th-place finish in 2011, racing to a personal-best time. Kelsey Breathitt finished 59th overall in the meet.
Juniors Amy McCrory and Kayleigh Skinner also finished in the top 50 during last year's meet. McKenna Coughlin and Haley Cutright also competed at the meet for the Rebels. This will be sophomore Margaret Harkness' first collegiate championship race. The women will begin at the No. 5 spot in the starting box.
All eyes will be on race favorite Arkansas, who enters the meet ranked No. 12 nationally by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association and No. 1 in the South Central Region. The hosting Vanderbilt Commodores are ranked No. 2 in the South Region and No. 28 nationally.
The Rebel men are looking to build upon last year's seventh-place finish. This season, the Rebels have been led by junior Max Holman, sophomore Loren Newsom and freshman Seumas O'Reilly.
At last year's meet in Knoxville, Holman finished in 33rd place, while Newsom came in 38th. Both men ran personal-best times. O'Reilly, who will be racing at his first SEC Championship, has the top four-mile time of all SEC freshmen.
Senior Riley Young and junior Al Lowe also competed in last year's race. Freshman Ian Carter will also look to make an impact in his first championship race. The men will be competing from the No. 12 spot in the starting box.
The nationally ranked No. 9 Arkansas Razorbacks headline the men's field. Georgia and Texas A&M are ranked No. 28 and 29, respectively.
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