Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Tide looks for third straight SEC championship victory

Legendary Green Packers head coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.”

For the Alabama men’s cross country team, this statement couldn’t be more true.

“Coming off of two SEC Championships, we’re going in there like this is ours to los,” junior Nathan Corder said.

The Tide is aiming to win its third consecutive SEC Championship as the tournament begins Monday at the University of South Carolina, at Hilton Field on Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C.

Coming into the SEC Championships, the No. 27 Tide is looking up at favorite, No. 10 University of Arkansas, and with No. 26 University of Florida lurking, achieving this monumental goal will not be an easy task.

If the Tide can win its third straight conference title, they will be the first school, other than Arkansas, to do that since the University of Tennessee won five straight from 1981-85.

With its eighth-place finish at the Pre-National meet on Oct. 16, and the recent success Arkansas has had, the Razorbacks have catapulted themselves to the top of the SEC as the favorite.

However, head coach Joe Walker isn’t buying the fact the Tide is the underdog.

“We’re not necessarily overlooked,” he said. “We haven’t performed at the level to be considered a favorite. Arkansas is the favorite and the way they’re running, they deserve it.”

Walker said due to recent workouts and meets, the team is gaining confidence, but still needs to improve on certain aspects to perform at the level they expect to race at.

The biggest item he stressed was the time gap between runners.

“The time gap between runners one to five is where we need to make progress,” he said. We’re near a minute and 20 seconds, to be competitive we need to get down to 50 seconds.”

This challenge is apparent to the players as they have witnessed first hand the success of Arkansas.

“If you’ve looked at the results, Arkansas has shown for 19 years a row in the SEC, their pack time is usually between 20-30 seconds,” Corder said. “You almost need it at this level. It’ll be so few people at the race, if you spread out it’s not going to show up well.”

For a majority of the season, the Tide has been running with five runners, not six. They have been racing without an All-American and someone who could possibly be a difference maker.

“We’ve only raced with six, our All-American, [senior] Fred Samoei, we still haven’t raced this semester,” Corder said. “If we can add him back into the lineup, you haven’t seen the Alabama team at its full potential.”

Without a possible difference maker running by their side, those early polls and results are looked at as incomplete.

“Going in, we have experts and coaches’ polls ranked us at fifth before we stepped on the line,” Corder said. “We haven’t raced a full team yet. They judged us on a full team, and we haven’t used it yet. I’m looking forward to see what we can do when we have a full team out there.”

Along with the possible addition of Samoei, Walker said junior Carison Kemei and senior Julius Bor will be two runners he’s looking to have big days for them to be competitive.

Heading into the SEC Championships, a team’s performance before this meet means nothing. Its performance on that day is what counts.

“I don’t know if it’s pressure,” Walker said. “Cross country is unlike other sports. We see all 11 other SEC competitors on the same day. The pressure is putting your performance together on one day and what you’ve done before has no bearing.”

He added that they started the season with a goal of winning the SEC Championship.

According to Corder, the team is expecting a win.

“We’re going in there like it’s ours to lose,” he said.

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