The No.7 Razorbacks return to Florida State’s Apalachee Regional Park for Saturday’s NCAA Championship race, which will be broadcast live on ESPNU starting at 9 a.m. (CT). The women’s 6,000m event will start at 9:20 am CT.
This is the 34th time a team from Arkansas has competed at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, and the 11th consecutive year. Finishing 10th last March was the 15th time the Razorbacks have reached the top 10. Arkansas won a national championship in 2019 and produced six top-four standings.
“Our kids are super excited, they’re fit and healthy,” said Razorback women’s head coach Lance Harter. “Let the blow fire and we will fight for the positions.
“There are a lot of teams on both sides where they think they can be in the top 10, and if you’re in the top 10, then there’s a chance you could be in the top four and on the top. podium.”
Recent national polls following regional meetings held last weekend favored the state of North Carolina and garnered six first-place votes. They are followed by New Mexico (4), Colorado (1) and reigning national champion BYU.
Other top 10-ranked teams include Minnesota, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, North Carolina, Ole Miss, Iowa State and Notre Dame.
“It’s become a specialty event, you don’t see schools here that focus on sprints,” Harter said. “Of the 31 teams in this area on the women’s side, there are about six that have balanced agendas in terms of how they are resourced and manned. The others have become specialists. You are really starting to see those who are looking for the trophies and the podium, they have committed a lot of resources in this area.
Three different Razorbacks have led the team over the past three races. During the pre-national meet held on the same NCAA course, Lauren Gregory led Arkansas with a second place finish. Krissy Gear led the team to the SEC Championships with a bronze medal. During the meeting of the Center-Sud region, Isabel Van Camp finished second and Gregory third since they shared the same time.
After placing sixth in the team standings in the pre-national meeting, the Razorbacks won their ninth consecutive SEC title, 22sd overall then claimed a 10e consecutive title of the Center-Sud region, its 25e globally.
“We have some proven lead runners, and I hope everyone has a great race on Saturday,” said Harter. “If they do, we’ll be in the conversation.
“Logan Jolly comes in like a gangbuster, and Gracie Hyde is kind of a stranger. Isabel Van Camp has been one of the biggest surprises of the season, all around. She’s always been stereotyped as an 800m runner. , but it really evolved in the program.
2019 NCAA cross-country champions, the Razorbacks placed 10th last March when the 2020 version of the competition was moved from its traditional November date due to covid. Gear led the team to the Oklahoma State Course with an All-America performance placing 21st.
Other Razorbacks returning from the March meet include Logan Jolly (64th), Gracie Hyde (104th) and Meghan Underwood (187th). Julia Paternain has already competed in the 2018 (125th) and 2019 (151st) NCAA races with Penn State.
Gregory did not compete in the national competition in March. Her previous NCAA cross-country experience was being the fifth runner on the 2019 National Championship team, placing 72nd overall and 52nd in the team standings.
This season, Jolly, Hyde, Paternain and Underwood have mingled in fourth and fifth positions for the Razorbacks. In the pre-national meet, Paternain and Hyde were 4-5, while in the SEC meeting Underwood and Jolly were in those positions. In the South Central meeting, Hyde and Underwood were 4-5, while Jolly was third and Paternain sixth.