MARYVILLE, Tenn. – Kristen Gillespie ran to the individual title at the Southeastern Conference Cross Country Championship meet Monday morning at the Lambert Acres Golf Club in Maryville, Tenn. Collectively, the University of Arkansas women’s cross country team turned in a runner-up finish at the conference meet for the second straight season.
The win for Gillespie represents the 12th SEC individual title for Arkansas and the team’s first since the 2008 season. As a team, the Razorbacks collected 61 points and placed all five runners in its scoring lineup inside the top 17. Vanderbilt won the 2011 SEC team title while Florida rounded out the top three with a bronze finish.
"In every championship race, you’re trying to get the win," head coach Lance Harter said. "We’re always a contender. This happens to be a year where Vanderbilt has some seasoned veterans and they’ve been riding some momentum. They are No. 3 in the country for a reason. We came into the meet with five freshmen and a young 800-meter, 1,500-meter group. So it’s a matter of trying to keep perspective and realize we’re still in the national hunt for a high placing. You have to give all the congratulations to Kristen Gillespie’s big win today."
Running from the lead position for a majority of Monday’s race, Gillespie separated with a late kick to cross the finish line in first place, nearly three seconds ahead of the second-place runner from Vanderbilt. Gillespie posted a 6K course-record time of 20:19.84. The previous mark of 20:29.67 was run by Hollie Knight of Auburn in 2008.
"(The SEC individual title) means so much," Gillespie said. "My journey from coming in as a freshman to now has been one with lots of ups and downs, and it feels really great to finally see the good results of all the hard work I’ve put in the last few years."
Arkansas’ freshman duo of Kaitlin Flattmann and Jessica Jackson were the team’s second and third scorers, respectively. Flattmann, in a season-high finish within the Razorbacks’ lineup, posted a time of 21:04.29, good for 13th place in the face. She was the top freshman finisher in the race. Jackson finished one spot back with a 14th-result and a time of 21:06.17.
The Razorbacks’ top-five lineup was rounded out by Stephanie Brown and Jillian Rosen. Brown crossed the finish line in 16th place overall with a time of 21:15.52. She was followed immediately by Rosen in 17th place overall. The Razorback senior finished less than a second behind her teammate, posting a 6K time of 21:15.78.
Arkansas’ sixth runner was Keri Wood. She finished in a time of 21:52.27, good for 36th place overall. Wood was followed by Dominique Scott who finished in 40th place overall and clocked in with a time of 21:54.86. She was the third freshman to cross for the Razorbacks.
The team’s remaining runners were Shannon Klenke (22:11.52) in 49th place, Cali George (22:15.50) in 52nd place and Michaela Bauer (22:17.59) in 54th place.
Gillespie was the Razorbacks’ lone representative on the All-SEC First Team. As the top two freshmen performers in Monday’s race, Flattmann and Jackson earned spots on the All-SEC Second Team and SEC All-Freshman Team.
With the conference meet behind them, the Razorbacks return to action Nov. 12 for the 2011 NCAA South Central Region Championship at the Cottonwood Creek Golf Course in Waco, Texas. For more information regarding Razorback cross country or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.