Razorback Cross Country Ready for NCAA District on Friday

FAYETTEVILLE –  There have been occasional years when the Razorbacks renowned men’s and women’s cross country teams have had to sweat at the NCAA South Central District Qualifying meet to advance to the NCAA Cross Country Championships.

This should’t be one of them. Needing only a top two team automatically to advance to the NCAA Cross Country Championships Nov. 20 in Tallahassee, Fla., Arkansas’ SEC champion men’s and women’s cross country seem in prime position  to qualify at Friday’s South Central meet in Waco, Texas.

Texas, nationally ranked 14th, is the lone other ranked team behind Arkansas Coach Chris Bucknam’s seventh-ranked Razorbacks men.Rice, Texas and Abilene Christian, seem the closest but still not caliber Arkansas Coach Lance Harter’s eighth-ranked Razorbacks women.

 In fact, Harter will rest one of his mainstays, track All-American Krissy Gear, for the national meet.

Gear, third place, was Arkansas’ top finisher at the SEC Women’s Cross Country Championships on Oct. 29 in Columbia, Mo.

In her place for Arkansas’ seven allowed entrants Harter said Gracie Hyde, the Benton High grad and transfer via the University of Central Arkansas, will sub for Gear, Harter said.

Arkansas’ other four scorers from the SEC meet, Isabel Van Kamp, All-American Lauren Gregory, Meghan Underwood, Logan Jolly (formerly Logan Morris) will run in Waco as will freshman Carmie Prinsloo and Hyde.

Arkansas’ men will run their seven that won the SEC title Oct.29 in Columbia. They are Amon Kemboi (second in the 8,000-meters race at Columbia)  Jacob McLeod, Myles Richter, Andrew Kibet, Emmanuel Cheboson, Gilbert Boit and Ryan Murphy.

The men run 10,000 meters at Waco and Tallahassee while the women will run the same 6,000 meter distance they ran at the SEC meet.

“Both the men and women are in the favorite’s role,” Harter said. “Probably demonstratively. We’re just looking for a good, solid effort to make sure we advance to the National meet and try to make it as comfortable as we can.”

Ditto says, Bucknam, noting they don’t want to overextend with the NCAA Championships on a 10K course with the championship 10K looming so soon but certainly need to take care of business and qualify.

“Just get a nice run and get a qualifying mark,” Bucknam said. “At least we hope that’s how it goes. We’ve got 20 kilometers to run in the next eight days. Basically it’s feel it out and get your top two automatic finish and make it an honest run and hopefully get out of their healthy.”

Both coaches said their runners have to take in account other teams and runners trying individually to qualify are, as Harter said, “running for their lives because there is no National Championships if they don’t run well Friday.”

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