LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Down to its final race of the season, the No. 12 University of Arkansas women's cross country team will take on the 2012 NCAA Division I Championships Saturday in Louisville, Ky. The women's 6K race will be run at 11 a.m. (CT) at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park. A web stream of Saturday's national meet will be available at NCAA.com.
"We're not going in with a lot of experience," head coach Lance Harter said. "A majority of the team are sophomores with one senior transfer in Semehar (Tesfaye) who has been to the national meet before (with Iowa State). I think that naivety may work to our advantage a little bit. They're all strong and healthy so we're going to get after it. I think our training has been right on cue for this race."
With a victory at the 2012 NCAA Division I South Central Regional Championships in Fayetteville, the Razorbacks clinched an automatic berth into the national meet. The program will be making its 25th appearance at the NCAA Championships. It was Arkansas' second-consecutive regional title and 17th in program history. Six Razorback runners-Semehar Tesfaye, Grace Heymsfield, Diane Robison, Jessica Kamilos, Paige Johnston and Shannon Klenke-earned all-region honors.
Harter, the 2012 USTFCCCA South Central Regional Coach of the Year, saw his team run to four titles in 2012 with wins at the season-opening Razorback Invitational, adidas/UCI Invitational, Chile Pepper Festival and NCAA South Central Regional. During the season, Arkansas also benefited from the emergence of Andrina Schlaepfer who was a three-time SEC Freshman of the Week.
The Razorbacks, one of 31 teams in the national field, are making their second-straight appearance at the NCAA Championships. As a program, Arkansas has four runner-up team finishes (1991-93, 1999) at the national meet and has tallied 16 All-Americans. Kamilos and Kaitlin Flattmann are the only returning Razorbacks from last year's 14th-place effort.
Including Arkansas, the 18 teams that secured automatic placement into the national meet are Connecticut, Duke, Florida State, Georgetown, Iowa State, Michigan, Michigan State, New Mexico, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Penn State, Providence, Stanford, Texas, Vanderbilt, Weber State and William and Mary.
The 13 at-large selections for Saturday's race are Arizona, Boston College, Butler, Colorado, Cornell, Florida, Georgia, Harvard, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Toledo, Villanova and Washington. The field will also include 38 individuals whose teams did not qualify for the NCAA Championships.
The live webcast at NCAA.com will begin at 11 a.m. (CT). For continued coverage of the Razorback cross country and University of Arkansas athletics, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com. Fans can also keep up with Arkansas cross country and track and field through the team's sport-specific RazorbackTF Facebook and Twitter pages.