BATON ROUGE, La., — The fourth-ranked University of Arkansas Lady Razorback cross country team is in its final preparations for the 2006 Southeastern Conference Cross Country Championships to be held on Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. at the Highland Park Cross Country Course in Baton Rouge, La.
The Lady Razorbacks are set to face what is being widely considered the toughest SEC field in the 24-year history of the event, but also enter the meet as the highest ranked team giving schools yet another reason to pick off Arkansas’ runners.
“We are a strong team this fall, but so is the rest of the conference,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “There are four ranked teams at this year’s race which has never happened in the 16 years that I have been head coach. Our depth is what makes us such a good team and now that we have that it is time to get a proven front runner. If we can do that, then we should have a good day.”
Undefeated in four competitions this season, the Lady Razorbacks are made up of a core group of four sophomores and three freshmen who have answered the call of each competition. Freshmen Brooke Upshaw and Dani Parry have each been a front-runner for Lady Razorbacks along with sophomore Christine Kalmer who placed fifth at the SEC meet in 2005. Kalmer and fellow second-year runner Denise Bargiachi were each named all-SEC last fall and hope to repeat the performance on Saturday.
Over the past two seasons, the Lady Razorbacks have come up just short in their pursuit of a league record 11th conference title. In 2004, the closest competition in SEC history, Arkansas finished two points behind Tennessee and last fall were only three behind the Lady Vols who have captured three straight league championships and are pursuing the Lady Razorbacks’ record of five set on two different occasions.
Arkansas enters the competition with a #4 ranking in the latest USTCCCA cross country poll and is trailed by defending SEC Champion #15 Tennessee, #17 Florida and #19 Georgia. Each squad has at least a pair of runners that could vie for the individual title now that three-time defending champion Angela Homan of Auburn has graduated. When asked who he thought might lead the Lady Razorbacks, Harter was quick to point out that it could be any of his 10 competitors as they run so well as a group, though he did concede that Upshaw, Parry and Kalmer would likely be in the mix.
For more information about Lady Razorback cross country or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to LADYBACKS.COM.