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Women’s Arkansas Razorbacks Cross Country Advance

FAYETTEVILLE – After a socially distanced perfect  one through five individual finish starting the cross country season winning  the Sept. 19  the LSU Preview over SEC foes Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and host LSU,  Arkansas Coach Lance Harter’s reigning SEC/NCAA women’s champions run against SEC foes Vanderbilt, Texas A&M and host Missouri Saturday at the Gans Creek Classic in Columbia, Mo.

Ole Miss, last year’s SEC runner-up to Arkansas, is generally deemed Arkansas’ biggest challenger for the Oct. 30 SEC Championships culminating this COVID-19 altered schedule moving the NCAA Cross Country Championships to March.

The Razorbacks romped to a 15 points perfect score paced by freshman phenom Taylor Ewert, seniors Abby Gray, Logan Morris and Lauren Gregory and freshman Corie Smith.Certainly social distanced from the field. And even each other.

“We kept it one to five 20 seconds apart,” Harter said smiling on Zoom. “So we tried to abide by it a little bit.”

Seriously, Harter said, “That was unexpected.  Especially since we weren’t at full strength. I’ve always had high regard for the Ole Miss program.  They were returning all their people but they did have a couple of people out.  But I think we made our point.”

Harter’s Razorbacks are bound to win  on Saturday’s 6,000 meter course in Columbia but perhaps not perfectly. “That might be a little unrealistic,” Harter said. “The young lady from England (Sarah Chapman) running for Missouri is very, very talented.”

The Razorbacks obviously can only repeat and not exceed first through five perfection but they will run deeper in Columbia than they did Sept. 19 in Baton Rouge, La., site of the Oct. 30 SEC Championships.

Transfers Chrissy Gear, reporting to Arkansas from Furman last year to place second in the SEC Indoor mile, and Gracie Hyde, the Benton High alum transferred from the University of Central Arkansas, debut Saturday after sitting out the LSU Preview.

Harter’s Razorbacks are the defending NCAA Cross Country champions from last fall but not likely to run more than a B-team at the revised NCAA Cross Country Championships moved to March 15 at Stillwater, Okla.

That’s because Harter’s Razorbacks, also the reigning NCAA Indoor Track and NCAA Outdoor Track champions winning those meets in 2019 followed by the 2020 NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor COVID cancelled, will host the NCAA Indoor March 12-13 at the Randal Tyson Indoor Track.

“Our emphasis is always going to be on the Indoor Championships and try to defend that title,” Harter said. “Cross country definitely would be secondary.”

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