The 2015 SEC Cross Country Championships were held in College Station, Tex. on Friday, and the Rebel men and women turned in strong showings for the second year in a row. In the women's 5k, Mary Alex England led all Rebel scorers with a 10th-place finish at 20:19.5. Sean Tobin led the Ole Miss men in the 8k event with a 15th-place finish in 23:58.7.
The women's 5th-place finish ties the program's historical best, and England's 10th-place score ties for the second-highest individual finish in women's program history. The Ole Miss women narrowly ran in behind Alabama, who finished with 143 team points to the Rebs' 147.*
On the men's side, Tobin finished neatly bunched up with Craig Engels (16th place, 24:00.0), an admirably concerted effort of stamina that led Ole Miss to 122 points. Texas A&M grabbed third with 98 team points, while Arkansas finished just 10 points shy of a perfect score with 25. Initially the Rebel men were chosen by SEC coaches to win the conference meet this year, since Ole Miss returned three All-SEC first teamers and won 2014's NCAA South Region title outright.
One might read this season's third-place showing as something of a backslide after last year's second-place excellence, but do recall that this historically beleaguered program lost its head coach in the offseason. That new distance specialist Ryan Vanhoy was able to keep a talented and experienced squad on the podium Friday speaks to his abilities as a motivator and mind for high-level fitness.
Both squads return to action on Friday, Nov. 13 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. for the NCAA Cross Country South Region Championships. The top two men's and women's teams there will earn automatic bids to the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Louisville, Ky. on Nov. 21.
*Cross country team scores are the sum of your team's top five finish spots, lowest sum wins. So, Ole Miss' women finished 10th, 27th, 35th, 37th, 45th = 147 points.