FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The USC Upstate men's and women's cross country teams posted strong times at the 2012 NCAA Southeast Regionals Friday hosted by UNC Charlotte as senior Gilbert Kemboi (Eldorte, Kenya) claimed sixth-place and advances to Nationals.
Despite a very tough Southeast Region, Kemboi led the Spartan men to 15th-place in the team standings, marking the best finish for Upstate in program history. Last year, the Spartans earned 22nd as a team, while Kemboi garnered All-Regional accolades after finishing 11th. With the senior's sixth-place finish this year, he qualifies for Nationals, becoming the first athlete in Upstate's Division I era across all sports to advance to an NCAA Championship event.
"Gilbert ran a tactically sound race today, staying in the top six to nine the entire race and putting himself in a position to qualify for nationals as an individual," said Upstate Associate Head Coach Carson Blackwelder.
In the men's 10K, Kemboi crossed the line with a school record and personal-best time of 29:47.31 as the first Upstate finisher. He was followed by senior Cameron Thomas (Niceville, Fla.), earning 72nd-place with a personal-record time in the 10K of 31:47.83. Thomas' classmate Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.) crossed the line third for the Spartans, claiming 94th with a career-record time of 32:18.94 in the 10K.
"The men's team had a great race today," Blackwelder said. "They ran a smart, but gutsy race. We accomplished our goal of breaking into the top 15 in the region. All of our guys had 10K PR's today and have been able to step-up at the big races this year."
Upstate junior Ross Oden (Salisbury, N.C.) was the fourth finisher for the team, posting a personal-best time of 32:38.59, while senior Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla.) was close behind with a career-record time of 32:53.18 in the 10K. Junior Andrew Kipchumba (Eldoret, Kenya) and sophomore Mark Rennix (Beaufort, S.C.) closed things out for the Spartans, clocking in with personal-best marks in the 10K at 33:33.77 and 34:44.02, respectively.
On the women's side, the Spartans finish 35th in the team standings. Sophomore Jasmine Polite (Goose Creek, S.C.) crossed the line first for Upstate, claiming 184th-place with a time of 23:40.23. Freshman Anastasia Kolesnitchenko (Boiling Springs, S.C.) was the second finisher for the Spartans, posting a personal-best 6K time of 23:55.28.
Upstate's third finisher at the Southeast Region meet was senior Hannah Chaney (Brunswick, Ohio), crossing the finish line in 24:03.96. Her classmate Laura Transue (Anderson, S.C.) was close behind, turning in a personal-record with a time of 24:23.03. The fifth finisher for the Spartans was sophomore Erin Gethin (Cocoa Beach, Fla.), recording a time of 24:46.20. Freshmen Ashleigh Torres (Roanoke, Va.) and Nia Payne (Conway, S.C.) also registered personal-best marks in the 6K, clocking in at 25:00.67 and 25:13.30, respectively.