COLUMBIA, Mo. – Auburn cross country senior Joyce Kimeli claimed second place in the women’s 6k at the Southeastern Conference Cross Country Championships Friday to match the Tigers’ best finish by a female runner at meet since Holly Knight was runner up in 2010. The Auburn women earned a ninth-place team finish, the highest mark for the program since 2016. The Auburn men claimed 10th, led by sophomore Ryan Kinnane at 29th overall.
“Coming into this season, we were not projected to be a top-10 SEC team,” Tigers cross country coach Aaron Kindt said. “My challenge to both of our teams was to defy that notion and be top-10 teams. Today, they accomplished that. Both groups have done a great job all year long of putting themselves in a position to have a meet like this.”
Kimeli’s 20:04.10 led the Tiger pack as the Eldoret, Kenya product nabbed the best finish at SEC Championships in her career. Of her four career SEC Cross Country Championships, the All-American has finished inside the top five in three of them.
Senior Presley Weems was the next Tiger to cross the finish line (21:38.90), running less than five seconds shy of her collegiate best. Placing 42nd, it was also Weems’ best finish ever at the event.
“Joyce (Kimeli) has really come on strong here in the last month,” Kindt said. “She continues to get better each time we toe the line. I also thought Presley Weems had the best cross country race of her Auburn career today. I challenged her to run a little bit differently today and she really got after it. The future is bright, and I am really excited to see what some of these ladies are going to be capable of come spring.”
Following Weems was sophomore Samantha Rogers (21:59.00), junior Sara Pacer (22:00.80), freshman Hallie Porterfield (23:31.80), senior Louisa McPherson (23:33.60) and freshman Hannah Thuss (23:43.30).
Pacer also recorded a new career-best 6k mark, obliterating her previous record from last year’s SEC Championships by over 20 seconds.
Across the board, the Auburn women averaged a 21:50.90 pace.
In the 8k race, Kinnane’s personal record, 24:23.20, set the tone as the men matched their best team finish since 2018.
Senior Tommy McDonough was the second Tiger to cross the line for the men’s side (24:55.10), claiming 43rd, the highest placement for the Hoover, Alabama native at SEC Championships through his five attempts.
Freshman Cooper Atkins marked the second of three Tiger personal records as he shaved nearly 14 seconds from his previous time. His 25:07.30 was the 13th best mark by a freshman at the meet.
“The men ran an incredibly hard race today,” Kindt said. “The work they put in all summer gave them the opportunity to prove that they were a top-10 team in this conference.”
The postseason battle begins Nov. 12 at the NCAA South Regional in Huntsville, Alabama, the gateway to NCAA Championships later in the fall.
2021 SEC Championships
Gans Creek Cross Country Course
Men’s Results (8k)
10. Auburn, 250 points
Auburn Individual Results
29. Ryan Kinnane, 24:23.20
43. Tommy McDonough, 24:55.10
53. Cooper Atkins, 25:07.30
62. Carson Bedics, 25:16.20
84. Jackson Thomas, 25:54.90
106. Mark Foster, 27:47.80
Women’s Results (6k)
9. Auburn, 253 points
Auburn Individual Results
2. Joyce Kimeli, 20:04.10
42. Presley Weems, 21:38.90
65. Samantha Rogers, 21:59.00
67. Sara Pacer, 22:00.80
115. Hallie Porterfield, 23:31.80
117. Louisa McPherson, 23:33.60
122. Hannah Thuss, 23:43.30