Arkansas aim for 9th consecutive SEC cross-country title


Arkansas No.15 seeks ninth consecutive SEC Cross Country Championship title and it’s 22sd overall this week in another title defense for the Razorbacks. The SEC Championships, hosted by Missouri and held on the Gans Creek Course, will be broadcast live on the SEC network at 10 a.m. on Friday, October 29, with the women’s 6,000m race starting at 10:50 a.m.

One of three nationally ranked SEC schools, Arkansas follows Alabama’s No.5 and Mississippi’s No.11 ahead of the conference championship. The last conference titles for Alabama, which placed runner-up in 2020, came in 1986 and 1987, while Mississippi, finalist in 2016 and 2019, never won a women’s SEC cross-country title.

The Razorbacks have won 20 of the last 21 SEC championships held in cross country, indoor and outdoor athletics, and have a total of 40 SEC titles across all three disciplines since joining the league 30 years ago.

“We come in as the defending champions with eight straight titles,” said Arkansas women’s head coach Lance Harter. “The competition continues to get more and more stiff each year, and this year is an amazing year.

“Alabama, Ole Miss and ourselves are three nationally ranked teams. We each had great seasons last year and we are returning the majority of their teams. So we will definitely have our hands full to try to defend. “

Lauren Gregory, three-time SEC Runner of the Week, has led the Razorbacks in three races this season. Gregory won the Missouri Opener on the Gans Creek course, leading Arkansas to a perfect score among four SEC schools. Then Gregory finished second at the Oregon Bill Dellinger Invitational and Florida State Pre-National Invitational after leading each race in the later stages.

A bronze medalist at the 2018 SEC Championship, Gregory finished in the top 10 at the conference conference for four consecutive years. Fourth a year ago at the top of Arkansas, Gregory is one of six Razorbacks who came back from last year’s top seven in the SEC meeting.

Krissy Gear, the fifth Razorback finisher of the SEC 2020 meeting while placing 11th, won the Chile Pepper Invitational a week after failing to complete the Oregon meet and placed eighth in the pre-national race in as Arkansas second finisher.

Isabel Van Camp has shown a marked improvement this season and as a result finished third among the Razorbacks placing 24e in the pre-national after being the second to finish in Oregon while placing 12e globally.

Returning Razorbacks from last year’s conference top seven include Logan Jolly, Meghan Underwood and Corie Smith.

“This meeting will be the first time this season that we will put our team together, because of one problem or another,” noted Harter. “I am delighted to bring our top 7 to 12 together and let them represent us at the conference.

“We will be making sure that some of the people who have participated in the program take big steps in a positive direction to carry the Arkansas flag.”

With three nationally ranked teams among the peloton, the deciding factor in determining the team title may lie with the fourth and fifth riders in each program.

“This year it’s been interesting with the 1-4 games being almost textual even,” Harter said. “Then it comes down, especially for us, to our fifth runner and Alabama as well. Ole Miss has a little tighter squad, but maybe not the firepower in mind.

“For us, our fifth rider is going to be critical, as well as everyone. This seems to be the theme of the conference meeting, the regional meeting and the national meeting. When people think of the idea of ​​a team effort, the top three or four get a lot of the celebration, but the real team development and defining who is going to be successful always comes down to that fourth or four. fifth runner for us.

Women’s teams can register 12 runners for the conference, allowing schools to learn more and help develop a program.

“We’re kind of lucky to have a lot of depth,” Harter noted. “Our number five to ten could be anyone of five or six. Hopefully someone has a great day and is able to keep our team total as low as possible. “

Underwood, Carmie Prinsloo, Julia Paternain and Gracie Hyde finished fifth for Arkansas this season. Each has also finished higher than fifth in various races this season.

National rankings

  1. Alabama
  2. Mississippi
  3. Arkansas

Regional rankings

South central | 1. Arkansas, 3. Texas A&M, 7. LSU

South | 1. Alabama, 3. Mississippi, 5. Tennessee, 6. Vanderbilt, 7. Florida, 10. Auburn

South East | 4. Kentucky

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