FAYETTEVILLE – The No. 12 University of Arkansas women and the No. 5 University of Texas men took home first place at the 2012 NCAA Division I South Central Regional Cross Country Championships on a windy day in Fayetteville, Ark. Also earning automatic bids were the No. 22 University of Texas women’s team and the No. 10 University of Arkansas men.
The Arkansas women claimed the South Central Regional title for the second consecutive year. The Razorbacks placed three runners in the top-10 en route to the victory. Arkansas finished with a total team score of 44 points. Finishing in second place was Texas with 68 points and two finishers in the top-10.
“Obviously, we are really excited not only to host the regional championships, but with the opportunity to walk away with the victory makes it even more special,” Arkansas women’s head coach Lance Harter said. “Considering some strategies, we held out two of our top five and we will try to put them back into the lineup for the national meet. This year, for the first time, our regional championship and our national championship are only seven days apart, so we want to make sure that everyone is ultimately 100 percent ultimately for the nationals.”
Texas’ Marielle Hall won the women’s race with a time of 20:30.7, taking home the individual title for the Longhorns. Texas’ Sara Sutherland (20:35.3) finished in second and was followed by Semehar Tesafaye (20:54.4) and Grace Heymsfield (20:55.0), who went 3-4 for Arkansas, respectively, and TCU’s Agnes Kemboi (21:07.0), rounded out the top five.
“I feel good about my race today,” Hall said. “I wanted to have one last strong race before nationals. Our main priority was qualifying as a team. Physically, I don’t think that we will be in a different place next week but today was good prep for getting us there mentally.”
The Texas men were victorious for the second year in a row as they tallied 38 points and finished four runners in the top-10 to take first at the meet. Arkansas finished in second place with 53 total points and three runners in the top-10.
“I was really proud of the guys,” Texas’ men’s head coach John Hayes said. “They went out and did what we had to do. It is warm and very windy day; it is a beautiful course and we love coming here, but they did what they had to do in order to get to nationals and that is what our focus was today.”
Texas A&M’s Henry Lelei was the top individual finisher with a time of 29:36.5. Davis Rooney (29:41.4) of McNeese State finished second, followed by Arkansas’ Kemoy Campbell (29.43.0), Texas’ Ryan Dohner (30:00.8) and Arkansas’ Solomon Haile (30:07.5) to round out the top-five.
“It was a windy day for a race but I feel good about the outcome,” Lelei said. “It was my first 10K, but I was confident in my running. I have a little bit of work to do over the next few days to prepare for NCAAs just to make sure I can compete with the top guys.”
The collegiate season comes to a close Nov. 17 with the 2012 NCAA Division I Championships. The national meet will be contested at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky.