FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas men’s cross country team was picked to win the Southeastern Conference title by the league’s head coaches, as announced Thursday by the league office. The Razorbacks received nine of the 13 first-place votes in the preseason poll.
Arkansas is the two-time defending conference champion, having most recently won the program’s 19th SEC cross country title in 2011. The win was the first of three conference titles last year for the team. The Razorbacks went on to win the indoor and outdoor track and field titles to complete an SEC Triple Crown. Dating back to the 2011 SEC Outdoor Championships, Arkansas has won the last four conference competitions.
The Razorbacks return 2011 All-American and SEC Runner of the Year Eric Fernandez for his senior season in Cardinal and White. Fernandez and sophomore Patrick Rono both earned all-conference accolades last season. Arkansas will also welcome Solomon Haile back to the lineup after a redshirt season in 2011. Haile was a 2010 All-American and All-SEC First Team selection. Head coach Chris Bucknam begins his fifth season at Arkansas.
Points for the men’s poll were awarded on a 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12 basis with head coaches not allowed to vote for their own team. The 2012 season marks the first in SEC competition for Missouri and Texas A&M. The 2012 SEC Cross Country Championships will be contested Friday, Oct. 26 at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Tenn.
Arkansas begins its 2012 season Aug. 31 with the Razorback Invitational, its annual dual meet with Missouri Southern. The meet will begin at 5 p.m. (CT) at Agri Park. This season, the Razorbacks will also play host to the 2012 NCAA South Central Regional Championship. The national-qualifying event will be held Nov. 9 on the team’s home course.
For more information regarding Razorback cross country or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
2012 SEC Men’s Cross Country Preseason Poll
1. ARKANSAS (9)
2. Florida (1)
3. Texas A&M (3)
9. Ole Miss
11. Mississippi State