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Courtesy: Walt Beazley
Arkansas is the two-time defending SEC champion.
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Defending SEC champs head to Nashville

Zach Lawson, Athletic Media Relations
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FAYETTEVILLE - After a weekend away from competition, the ninth-ranked University of Arkansas men's cross country team returns to the course Friday morning for the 2012 Southeastern Conference Championships in Nashville, Tenn. The men's 8K race is scheduled for an 11 a.m. (CT) start at Percy Warner Park. This year's conference meet is hosted by Vanderbilt University.

"This is our most important meet of the year," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "This is our first line of defense going into the championship season. It's the only meet on our radar and we realize we're going to have to be at the top of our game to challenge for a championship. Obviously, this is what we train for and we look forward to getting there to test ourselves."

The Razorbacks are the two-time defending SEC cross country championships, having most recently won the program's 19th SEC title last year in Merryville, Tenn. It was Arkansas' second conference title under Bucknam. The Razorbacks return defending individual champion Eric Fernandez. In addition to 19 team titles (1991-2007, 2010-11), Arkansas has 11 individual champions spread among eight runners.

In the team's last outing, Arkansas ran to a tie for fifth place in the loaded field of 20 ranked teams at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational. The Razorbacks collected three top-20 individual performances from Fernandez in ninth place, Solomon Haile in 15th place and Kemoy Campbell in 17th place. The top-five scoring lineup also included Layne Nixon and Cameron Efurd, respectively.

Arkansas is the highest-ranked SEC team in the most recent release of the USTFCCCA national poll. The Razorbacks enter the conference meet as the No. 9 team in the country and will be joined in Friday's race by No. 28 Georgia and No. 29 Texas A&M. Florida is also receiving votes in the national rankings.

Dating back to the 2011 SEC Outdoor Championships, Arkansas has won four consecutive conference events, including last year's SEC Triple Crown run. Under Bucknam, the Razorbacks have won eight conference teams titles with two cross country (2010-11), three indoor track and field (2009-10, 2012) and outdoor track and field (2009, 2011-12) titles.

Last year, the Razorbacks won the league meet for the 19th time in program history and for the second straight year. Arkansas collected 33 points and placed all five scorers inside the top 13 to finish. Fernandez went on to be voted the SEC Runner of the Year, while Bucknam was named the SEC Coach of the Year.

For more information regarding Razorback cross country or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com. Fans can also keep up with Arkansas cross country and track and field with the team's sport-specific RazorbackTF Facebook and Twitter pages.

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