LEXINGTON, Ky. – Damp and chilly weather in Lexington didn’t slow the Hogs down as John McDonnell’s team took the 2007 SEC Cross Country title at Kentucky Horse Park on Saturday. The Hogs won Arkansas’ 34th-consecutive cross country conference title and its 17th-consecutive SEC cross country title. The title win also marks Arkansas’ 82nd conference title (cross country, indoor and outdoor).
“(The consecutive streak of conference championships) is my greatest achievement,” McDonnell said. “I take great pride in it because so many things can happen, good and bad. It’s unpredictable. To have enough depth is really the key. To win something like this for 34-years straight is pretty special.”
The Razorbacks won the team title with 36 points. Florida was second in the team race with 74 points. Alabama was third with 82 points. The Crimson Tide’s Emmanuel Bor was the race winner with a time of 23:50.45.
“The weather was perfect and it’s a good cross country course,” McDonnell said. “The course was very challenging. The team did exactly what we planned. They ran as a pack. They didn’t worry about going after the front runner and they won the team title.”
Of the 98 runners competing, Arkansas finished five in the top 11, seven in the top 26 and 10 in the top 44.
“It was a splendid team performance,” McDonnell said. “Then we had three freshmen finish 25th, 26th and 32nd. That’s really good for their first conference meet. For being so young, that is outstanding.”
Shawn Forrest led the Arkansas attack with a bronze finish and an 8K time of 23:57.39. The Melbourne, Australia native has never finished outside the top four in a SEC Cross Country Championships race. In his five races this season, he has not finished outside of the top 25.
“The weather was good today, it wasn’t too cold,” Forrest said. “We warmed up well. The rolling hills weren’t a problem. We have been training on hills in Fayetteville. It was nice and steady to begin with and it got serious about half way through the race. I was very happy to finish third. I picked off an Alabama runner right by the finish and then a Florida runner got past me.”
“Shawn is back where he was,” McDonnell said. “Tyler Hill had a great race, too. Our top five and, really, our whole team had great races. To finish five in the top 11 at the conference meet is pretty good. That’s what we had to do to win. We won it pretty handily in the end.”
Tyler Hill, competing in his last SEC Cross Country Championships, was the Hogs’ second finisher with a fifth-place finish overall. He clocked a time of 24:10.64. In Hill’s five races this season, he has not finished outside of the top 18.
“It was colder than I expected,” Hill said. “It was crazy in the front pack for the first three miles with the surging. It was very uneven and I just tried to stay calm and stay up there. Chris (Barnicle), Matt (Munoz) and I knew we had to race smart to stay in there. We just wanted to take home the team title and that’s what we did.”
Rounding out Arkansas’ scoring spots were Chris Barnicle in eighth place (24:19.46), Scott MacPherson in ninth place (24:22.71) and Matt Munoz in 11th place (24:32.64). Barnicle’s time is also an 8K personal best.
Forrest and Hill were named first-team All-SEC while Barnicle, MacPherson and Munoz earned second-team All-SEC honors.
The Arkansas freshman had another outstanding showing running in their first SEC Championships race. Lane Boyer finished 25th overall and third among freshmen with his time of 25:07.26. Duncan Phillips made a dramatic improvement with his 26th-place finish, a season best, and a time of 25:10.01, also an 8K personal best. Michael Chinchar was the eighth finisher for the Hogs, the fifth freshman overall and clocked a 25:22.83, good for a 32nd-place finish.
All three freshmen were named to the SEC’s inaugural All-Freshmen team, honoring the top seven frosh finishers.
Also competing for Arkansas were Rio Reina, who finished 34th (25:26.24) and Daniel LaCava, who finished 44th (25:39.49). LaCava also clocked an 8K personal best.
Next up for the Razorbacks will be the hosting of the NCAA South Central Regional Championships, Sat., Nov. 10, at Agri Park in Fayetteville.
— HOGS —
Download: 2007 SEC XC.pdf