Ole Miss Cross Country Announces 2021 Schedule
OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss men’s and women’s cross country has revealed its slate for the 2021 season, which features seven meets this fall.
After a 2020 season that was shortened and stretched out due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 season represents a return to a full gauntlet that begins in early September and runs through the NCAA Cross Country Championships, held this year at Florida State on Nov. 20.
The Rebels will open the season with a customary return to Christian Brothers University for the Memphis Twilight on Sept. 4 before getting a sneak-peek of the NCAA Regional course at North Alabama for the North Alabama Showcase on Sept. 17. Ole Miss then will run in consecutive high-powered races at Notre Dame’s Joe Piane Invitational on Oct. 1 and at Florida State for the Pre-National Invitational on Oct. 16.
Championship season kicks off two weeks later, with the Rebels looking to bring home some conference hardware at the SEC Championships on Oct. 29 – this year hosted at Missouri. Ole Miss will then return to Huntsville for the highly competitive NCAA South Regional on Nov. 12 in search of tickets to the aforementioned national meet, held just eight days later in Tallahassee.
The Ole Miss men look to remain in the hunt for their third SEC title in four years, and they will feature a deep roster blended with veterans and newcomers alike. The Rebel men are coming off their second-best NCAA finish in program history (12th place) and the first 1-2-3 SEC podium sweep in program history, but they fell to a strong Arkansas group in the team battle to snap the Rebels’ two-year winning streak. Returning out of that podium triumvirate are reigning SEC Champion and SEC Men’s Runner of the Year, Mario Garcia Romo, as well as SEC runner-up Cole Bullock. Both also earned All-American honors after leading the Rebels at the NCAA Championships, with Bullock finishing 18th overall and Garcia Romo finishing in 30th place.
The Rebels do lose two-time All-American and team stalwart Waleed Suliman, who elected to forego his final year of eligibility after signing a professional contract during the U.S. Olympic Trials in June. However, Ole Miss still returns other talented veterans like Cade Bethmann, Michael Coccia, Nick Moulai and Ben Savino, while also welcoming a high-powered crop of newcomers such as 2020 Tennessee Gatorade Athlete of the Year Aiden Britt, two-time NCAA Division II track champion James Young of the Academy of Art, and Washington transfer Cruz Culpepper, who will be competing in his first cross country season as a collegian.
The Ole Miss women are in a similarly strong position, coming off their best national finish ever after a superb 12th-place showing at the NCAA Championships. The Rebel women also finished third at the SEC Championships, their fifth consecutive top-three finish after having never done so prior to 2016.
Leading the way for Rebel returnees is Anna Elkin, who will be competing in her final season of eligibility for Ole Miss as a graduate student. Last season, Elkin recorded the best national finish ever by a Rebel in the women’s championship race in 49th place, which followed up a Second-Team All-SEC honor as the eighth-place finisher at the conference meet. Also returning are Sintayehu Vissa and Loral Winn, who both also would have broken the program record for best NCAA finish after taking 51st and 60th place, respectively, at the national meet. All three are coming off excellent track campaigns as well, which featured indoor All-American nods for Vissa and Winn, and trips to the NCAA East Regional outdoors for all three.
This will also be the final season of eligibility for Clio Ozanne-Jaques, who gets one final cross country campaign after running a limited 2020 slate and missing the entire 2019 season due to injury. Ozanne-Jaques holds a career-best NCAA finish of 65th from the 2018 national meet, and is coming off a school record 10K of 33:26.86 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in June.
Ole Miss loses two-time All-SEC runner Victoria Simmons, but returns other veterans like Skylar Boogerd and Ryann Helmers. Additionally, the Rebels welcome in a strong newcomer class that features the likes of freshmen Hannah Ielfield and Addy Stevenson, as well as North Florida transfer Lydia van Dijk.
The Rebels are once again coached by associate head coach Ryan Vanhoy, who enters his ninth season at Ole Miss and seventh in charge of the combined men’s and women’s cross country programs. Last season, Vanhoy was named the USTFCCCA South Region Men’s Coach of the Year – his fifth total win in cross country and fourth with the Rebel men. Combined, Ole Miss stands as one of just four programs nationwide to place both men’s and women’s teams in the NCAA top-25 each of the last five years alongside BYU, Colorado and Stanford.
2021 Ole Miss Cross Country Schedule
Sept. 4 – Memphis Twilight – Memphis, Tenn. (Christian Brothers)
Sept. 17 – North Alabama Showcase – Huntsville, Ala. (North Alabama)
Oct. 1 – Joe Piane Invitational – South Bend, Ind. (Notre Dame)
Oct. 16 – Pre-Nationals – Tallahassee, Fla. (Florida State)
Oct. 29 – SEC Championships – Columbia, Mo.
Nov. 12 – NCAA South Regional – Huntsville, Ala.
Nov. 20 – NCAA Championships – Tallahassee, Fla.