BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – SEC Champion and Ole Miss men’s cross country junior Mario Garcia Romo has been named the 2020 SEC Men’s Runner of the Year, the conference announced Monday afternoon.
Garcia Romo – a native of Salamanca, Spain – led a historic 1-2-3 podium sweep for the Rebel men at the SEC Championships in Baton Rouge back on Oct. 30, marking just the 10th time in recorded SEC history that a school has performed the sweep. Garcia Romo took the 8K crown at a time of 23:32.9 ahead of teammates Cole Bullock (second, 23:34.3) and Waleed Suliman (third, 23:34.3), who together strung a splendid final 3K to take the lead as a pack.
He is the third Rebel to ever win an SEC cross country title, as well as the third to win SEC Runner of the Year, joining the likes of Rebel greats Pablo Sierra (1992) and Barnabas Kirui, who won three conference crowns in 2006, 2009 and 2010.
Garcia Romo put together four superb races in the shortened 2020 season, never finishing lower than third and notching two wins – both at LSU. He was named the USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Week following his season-opening win at LSU for the SEC Preview on Sept. 19.
He was also one of three Rebel men named First-Team All-SEC on Monday alongside Bullock and Suliman. This is the third straight First-Team honor for Suliman, the second career First-Team spot for Garcia Romo and the first for Bullock, who earned Second-Team honors after winning SEC Freshman of the Year in 2019.
On the women’s side, seniors Anna Elkin and Victoria Simmons were both named Second-Team All-SEC after finishing eighth and 14th, respectively. This is the second consecutive Second-Team honor for Simmons, who also finished 14th in 2019.
Ole Miss and the rest of the country now waits for spring, with the anticipated beginning of the indoor track season in January, as well as the rescheduled NCAA Cross Country Championships in March.