LSU’s women’s cross country team matched its second-highest finish during Friday’s Southeastern Conference cross country championships with a fifth-place finish at the University Club.
Led by the 12th place finish of junior Katy-Ann McDonald, the Tigers finished with 173 points for a program that showed tremendous improvement after last year’s 13th place showing.
It was LSU’s the best showing since a fourth-place finish in 1999 and equaled the fifth place the Tigers yielded in 1996.
Reigning national champion and top-ranked Arkansas captured its eighth-straight SEC women’s title with 41 points. Alabama (57) was the runner-up followed by Ole Miss (97), Kentucky (98) and LSU.
“The women ran absolutely great today,” LSU coach Houston Franks said. “We went into the meet with the game plan of being aggressive and tough. We were going to put our nose in it, try to out-tough people and that’s exactly what they did. They got out really hard, got a good, strong start, grinded in the middle, and it was a great finish.
“Last year we redshirted some people and we knew that we were better than the results showed. Coming into this year, we knew we would be a lot better. It was a great way to finish the season. We know we have room to grow but it’s exciting.”
McDonald’s 12th place finish is the best finish an LSU female runner has had in the SEC championships since Laura Carleton placed 12th in 2012.
“I told my wife earlier this week that Katy-Ann is going to run really well because you could just see that she had an extra pep in her step,” Franks said. “She always runs well but she went into today with a lot of aggression. She put her nose into it, and she can be really tough in the middle when she wants to. She ran fantastic today.”
Other runners contributing to the LSU women’s best SEC finish in 21 years were Julia Palin (31st, 21:06.6), Shelby Spoor (37th, 21:16.4), Alicia Stamey (46th, 21:29.2) and Ashley LaJocies (67th, 21:51.2).
McDonald’s placing earned her a selection on the All-SEC second team. Spoor was the fifth freshman to finish in the 6k, landing on the All-SEC freshman team.
LSU’s men, which had 208 points, was led by the 18th place finish of sophomore Davis Bove. He helped the Tigers match last year’s eighth-place showing which was the program’s best since 2007.
Arkansas (35 points) unseated two-time defending SEC men’s champion Ole Miss (59) for the team championship. Georgia (121) was third and was followed by Tennessee (123), Kentucky (133), Missouri (151) and Florida (200).
Bove covered the 8K course in 24 minutes, 32.6 seconds and was followed by senior Eric Coston (34th, 25:00.6), freshman Will Dart (43rd, 25:10.4), sophomore Jackson Martingayle (52nd, 25:17.3) and sophomore Cade Martin (75th, 25:45.1).