The Clemson men and women will travel to Blacksburg, VA to compete in Saturday’s ACC Cross Country Championships. The meet will be held at Smithfield Plantation, with the women’s 6K race scheduled for a 10:00 AM start, followed by the men’s 8K at 10:50. This is the 59th annual men’s championship and 35th annual women’s competition.
Clemson will have its hands full on Saturday, as both races will feature three nationally-ranked teams. Leading the way in both is Florida State, ranked No. 1 in the nation in the latest women’s poll and No. 14 in the men’s poll. Also on the women’s side, No. 11 Duke and No. 26 Boston College will also be in action. The other ranked men’s teams are Duke (18th) and Virginia Tech (21st).
The Tiger women enter the weekend with a No. 7 ranking in the latest Southeast Region poll. Clemson is coming off a sixth-place team effort a season ago at the ACC Championships, the program’s best finish in 12 years at the time. The Tigers return a pair of scorers from the 2011 team, Kate Borowicz and Natalie Anthony, who were 31st and 32nd respectively at the conference meet last fall.
Both Anthony and Borowicz have been among Clemson’s top two finishers in each of the Tigers’ first four meets this fall. Anthony owns three top-11 individual finishes in four meets and was the team’s top performer at the Pre-NCAA Nationals, helping Clemson to a 16th-place finish out of 38 teams. Borowicz has a pair of top five finishes, including fifth at the Charlotte Invitational on Sept. 28 when she led the Tigers to victory.
Clemson’s No. 3 runner each meet so far this season for the women has been Furman graduate Erin Barker. She was an All-SoCon and all-region performer a year ago, and has been a steady presence in the Tiger lineup this fall. Barker owns three top-20 finishes this season. Other members of the women’s team that will make the trip to Blacksburg this weekend are Brianna Blanton, Brianna Feerst, Lisa Girard, Alyssa Henshaw, Sara Manesiotis and Cara Talty.
The men’s team has been led throughout the 2012 campaign by red-shirt sophomore Aaron Ramirez, one of the most improved runners in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Piedmont, SC native could be a contender for All-ACC honors this weekend. Any individual who places in the top 14 at the meet is considered all-conference.
Ramirez has placed inside the top 17 in each of Clemson’s four meets so far this season, with three top-six finishes. He was sixth most recently in the unseeded 8K at the Pre-NCAA Nationals on Oct. 13. He also has a win under his belt, as he took the season-opening 5K at Clemson on Aug. 31. Ramirez has improved his personal best over 8,000 meters in each of the last three competitions.
Roland Hakes should be among the top freshmen this weekend. The Irmo, SC native and Dutch Fork High School product has consistently been in the mix for Clemson’s top two spots. Hakes ran a personal best 25:32 two weeks ago at Pre-Nationals. He will be pushed by veteran Martin Maloney, the team’s No. 2 runner at the season opener. Others making the trip this weekend for the Tigers are Jack Andritsch, Travis Christenberry, Kevin Ketner, Sam McGill, Steven Phillips and Tim Tyler. Five members of Clemson’s travel roster are freshmen, while seven will be competing in their first ACC Championships meet.