TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – The 16th-ranked University of Arkansas Lady Razorback cross country team spent part of its Sunday afternoon jogging on the LaVern Gibson Championship Course in preparation for Monday’s NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind.
The NCAA meet is scheduled to air live on CSTV for the first time in the 25 years of NCAA Women’s Cross Country competition. The women’s race is scheduled for a precise 11:58 a.m. eastern start, shortly after the men conclude their 10,000-meter competition. The competition is also scheduled to be webcast on the U.S. Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association website www.usatfccca.org.
Arkansas hopes to improve upon last fall’s stunning fifth-place finish and with most of its pieces and parts intact from the 2006 squad, the possibilities are there. Junior’s Christine Kalmer, Dacia Barr and Denise Bargiachi are the front runners for an experienced Arkansas team that plans to race with three juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen at the NCAA meet on Monday.
“Our goal on Monday is to try and get a trophy,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “For the most part we are healthy now and the cool weather in Terre Haute will certainly help with our athletes that struggled at the regional with asthma and allergies. When we have everyone together like we did at the SEC meet we are a very formidable team.”
All five of the Lady Razorback non-freshman have experience at the NCAA Championships and each knows the Terre Haute course well. The 6,000-meter racetrack features rolling hills and hairpin turns making the opening mile crucial if Arkansas has aspirations of nabbing one of the top four team spots and a trophy. Teams begin with a long uphill ascent which crests more than 800 meters away from the start. A quick downhill run leads right into the first 180-degree turn into an inner loop that is bound on both sides by a four-foot high chain link fence that hinders competitors from passing. Two additional hairpin turns later and the runners hit another long straightaway which typically spreads the field. The final mile and a half features more back and forth racing until the final stretch which passes the start and leads runners back up the starting hill to the finish.
Of concern to the Lady Razorback coaching staff is the health of Bargiachi who struggled on Saturday with an illness. After a day of rest, the third-place finisher at the South Central Regional meet appears to be back in good health and eager to toe the line for her third NCAA competition.
For more information about Lady Razorback cross country or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.