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The Razorbacks won the program's 17th regional title Friday morning.
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Razorbacks win regional meet, advance to NCAA

Zach Lawson, Athletic Media Relations
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FAYETTEVILLE – Behind five top-15 individual performances, the No. 12 University of Arkansas women’s cross country team ran to a first-place finish Friday morning at the 2012 NCAA Division I South Central Regional Championships at Agri Park in Fayetteville. The win marks the Razorbacks’ second-straight regional title and 17th in program history.

With its victory, Arkansas clinched an automatic berth in the NCAA Championships. The Razorbacks will be making their 25th appearance at the national meet. The team has now earned an automatic top-two spot in the NCAA meet on 23 occasions.

“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.”

The Razorbacks were paced by top-five finishes by Semehar Tesfaye and Grace Heymsfield who placed third and fourth, respectively. In her first regional competition for Arkansas, Tesfaye crossed the finish line in a 6K time of 20:54.4. Heymsfield finished right behind her as the team’s second runner, posting a time of 20:55.0.

Arkansas’ top-five runners were rounded out by Diane Robison in 10th place at 21:15.7, Jessica Kamilos in 12th place at 21:23.5 and Paige Johnston in 15th place at 21:32.2. The team’s remaining runners were Shannon Klenke in 22nd place at 21:49.0 and Kaitlin Flattmann in 39th place at 22:21.7. For their respective efforts, Tesfaye, Heymsfield, Robison, Kamilos, Johnston and Klenke received all-region accolades.

“I’m very happy with my race today,” Tesfaye said. “After SECs being so disappointing, it felt good to bring my all and see good results. I am very pleased with the teams winning effort today. We are all very proud to finish on top.”

In the overall team standings, Arkansas led a top five that included Texas, Texas A&M, SMU and UT-San Antonio, respectively. The Longhorns also secured a spot into the national meet with their second-place finish. Marielle Hall of Texas was the women’s individual winner.    

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. For more information regarding Razorback cross country or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.

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