A Look Back
Six Southeastern Conference cross country teams competed in the Joe Piane Invitational held in South Bend, Ind., last Friday, and it was Alabama's Mercy Chelangat who took home the individual crowns in the women's 5K. She opened her 2021 season by winning in a time of 16:10.3, followed closely by Crimson Tide rookie Flomena Asekol. In a field packed with ranked opponents, the No. 6-ranked Crimson Tide women finished third after tallying 147 points, just behind No. 1 NC State and No. 3 New Mexico. The Alabama men were sixth with 225 points to place as the top SEC team. Other SEC schools in the race were Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.
Chelangat was named the National Runner of the Week for her winning effort.
At the Chile Pepper Festival in Fayetteville, Ark., the Arkansas women finished first behind Krissy Gear's first collegiate cross country title. Gear covered the 5,000m distance in a time of 16:24.3 to claim the win by 26.2 seconds over LSU's Katy-Ann McDonald. In the men's 8K, Arkansas tied for fourth, while LSU was sixth.
Missouri served as host to the Gans Creek Classic at the site of the 2021 SEC Championships later this month. Texas A&M and Missouri placed first and second, respectively, in the women's 6K, while Missouri was fourth and Texas A&M was seventh in the men's 8K. The Aggies' Eric Casarez finished first in 23:36.5.
Florida also competed in the UCF Invitational, where the men's team placed first and the women came in second. Javi Vento led the Gator men with a first place outing and a personal-best time of 18:46.6.
South Carolina earned a 10th place finish at the Paul Short Run on Friday on the campus of Lehigh. Mississippi State placed 19th at the Live at Lou Classic on Saturday.
In The Rankings
Three SEC women's teams are ranked in the top-15 of the national poll this week. Alabama moved up to No. 4, while Arkansas is 11th and Ole Miss is 14th. Arkansas is ranked eighth in the men's poll, while Alabama is 22nd.
The SEC cross country programs will take this weekend off from competition before returning to the course next weekend for what we be the final meets of the season before the SEC Championships.