Cross Country Opens Season with the SEC Preview Meet
Baton Rouge, La. – The cross country season will begin on Saturday, September 19 with the first meet of the season being hosted by the Tigers at the University Club. The men’s squad will start the morning off by running the 6k at 9:00 a.m. CT while the women will follow up by running the 5k at 9:45 a.m. CT. The Tigers will be competing against fellow SEC schools Arkansas (M&W), Ole Miss (M&W), Texas A&M (M&W), and Mississippi State (W).
The SEC Preview Meet will be the first athletic competition LSU will have this fall as the schedules have been altered due to COVID-19. The SEC requires that certain protocols be followed in order to ensure the safety of the athletes, staff, and fans for the cross country season. All competing student athletes will be required to wear a mask/face gaiter at the start of the race but will be allowed to remove it once they reach the 800-meter mark in order to ensure there is adequate physical distancing. All coaches, staff, and non-competing student athletes will be required to wear a face mask/gaiter prior to, during, and after the competition. Fans in attendance will also be required to wear a face mask/face gaiter at all times. For those planning on attending the SEC Preview, parking will be available at the L’Auberge Casino and Hotel where multiple shuttles will then transport fans to and from the meet. The shuttles will begin transport at 7:00 a.m. CT and will end at 11:30 a.m. CT.
The men’s team looks to build off of their impressive season last year where they finished in eighth place at the SEC Championships, marking their best finish since 2007. The Tigers will return everyone from last year’s squad, hoping to replicate their success from last season. Eric Coston will look to be one of the team’s top performers once again as he was the top finisher for the men’s squad in all five meets, he competed in last season. The senior’s best finish of last season came in the 5k run at the LSU Invitational where he ran a personal best time of 14:49.5, earning the silver medal and leading the Tigers to a first-place team finish. Coston recorded a personal best time in four out of five competitions last year, showing improvement each week. His season was capped off by earning many accolades as he was named the 2019 LSWA Men’s Runner of the Year, 2019 All-Region Team (South Central), and 2019 All-Louisiana Men’s Cross Country Team. Sophomore Davis Bove will also look to be a key contributor once again as he scored in all five meets, he competed in last season. Bove made his collegiate debut last season at the LSU Invitational where he crossed the finish line in sixth place running a personal record time of 15:15.3 in the 5k race. Bove was awarded the SEC Men’s Freshman of the Week for his debut performance. He was also named to the 2019 All-Region Team (South Central) for his 17th place finish at the 2019 NCAA South Central Regionals. Adam Wise is another runner to look out for this season as he was one of the top performers last season for the men’s team. The redshirt sophomore had his best performance of the season at the LSU Invitational where he ran a personal best time of 14:57.4 to claim the bronze medal in the 5k helping the Tigers win the title. Jackson Martingayle also impressed last season as he became the first male runner in school history to be named the SEC Men’s Runner of the Week for his collegiate debut performance where he ran a time of 18:33.1 to place fifth in the 6k run at the McNeese Season Opener.
Like the men, the LSU women’s team will be returning everyone from last year’s squad. The Tigers will be led by Katy-Ann McDonald once again as she was the team’s top runner last season. The London, England native was the squad’s top finisher in all five meets she competed in last season. Her best finish of the season came in the 5k race at the LSU Invitational where she ran a time of 17:24.4 and won the gold medal, leading the team to a title. She was named to the 2019 All-Region Team for her 14th place finish in the 6k (21:21.7) at the NCAA South Central Regionals. The Junior was also named to the 2019 All-Louisiana Women’s Cross Country Team for her impressive performances last season. The women’s team will have redshirt sophomore Julia Palin back this season as she did not compete in 2019. Palin was one of the top runners for the Tigers in 2018 as she scored in all six meets while being the top finisher in five of those. She became the first female athlete in program history to be named the SEC Freshman of the Week after he silver medal winning performance in the 3-mile run at the 2018 LSU Invitational. Her personal best time of 18:13.9 was the top LSU performance and helped the team claim the victory at the meet.
Chat w/ Coach Franks
“Every year you want to be better than the year before” said head coach Houston Franks about building off of the team’s success from last year. “It may not show right away but there will be a lot of improvement from last year and it’s really exciting. The men had a really great summer as everyone stayed in good shape so it’s not like we have to start from ground zero. It was unfortunate that we didn’t have an outdoor season in the spring because there were a few athletes who were about to breakout, but I think we are going to have a great season.”
“There were definitely some challenges, but I think we’ve done a good job of following the protocols.” Coach Franks said regarding the team getting ready for the season while working around COVID-19.” It was challenging for our international athletes having to quarantine before being able to work out, but the team has handled it very well. We spend a lot of time during practice maintaining social distance, but this team will be ready to go.”
SEC Preseason Polls
The 2020 SEC Cross Country Coaches Pre-Season Polls were released and the LSU men’s team is ranked 9th whereas the women’s squad sits in the 12 spot. The Arkansas men’s and women’s teams are both ranked at the top receiving nine and 13 first place votes, respectively. Their women’s team has won seven consecutive SEC titles and claimed the national title a season ago. Both the men’s and women’s Ole Miss teams are ranked second in the preseason polls with the men’s squad coming off of two consecutive SEC championships.
Due to COVID- 19 the XC season has been shortened as the Tigers will compete in only four meets this fall. After this opening competition in Baton Rouge, La. the Tigers will travel to Tallahassee, Fla. on October 2 to compete in the Florida State Invitational. LSU will then travel to College Station, Texas to run in the Arturo Barrios Invite on October 17. Finally, the Tigers will host the SEC Championships at the University Club in Baton Rouge, La. to finish the season. The SEC Championships will mark the third time that LSU has hosted the event with the latest time being in 2006 where the Tigers finished in ninth place. The full XC schedule for this fall can be found at lsusports.net