– The No. 11 University of Arkansas women’s cross country team ran to the team title Saturday at the 24th Annual Chile Pepper Festival at Agri Park in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks’ top five all finished inside the top 20, led by a fifth-place overall finish by Semehar Tesfaye
. Saturday’s victory is Arkansas’ first win at the Chile Pepper event since the 2006 season.
Arkansas finished the meet with 58 team points, outdistancing event runner-up and No. 22 Oklahoma State (103 points). The field at the Chile Pepper Festival also included Southeastern Conference foe LSU and seven other top-10 teams from the South Central region. There were 341 runners to cross the finish line in the women’s race.
“The positive thing is we were able to put together a good effort,” head coach Lance Harter
said. “Some of the people that are normally in our top five, were not today. Our finish is a credit to our depth and team atmosphere of ‘hey, if someone is having an off day, I have to fill in.’ I think we had some people really run above and beyond the call of duty.”
For the third time this season, Tesfaye was the Razorbacks’ top finisher. She navigated the 6K course in a time of 21:06.4 to finish in fifth place overall. She was followed by Andrina Schlaepfer
in 10th place and Grace Heymsfield
in 12th place. Schlaepfer crossed the finish line in a time of 21:15.1, while Heymsfield clocked in at 21:20.5. The trio of Tesfaye, Schaelpfer and Heymsfield has been atop Arkansas’ line in three races in 2012.
The Razorbacks’ fourth runner was Paige Johnston
. She posted a time of 21:41.9 to finish in 17th place overall. Johnston is appearing in the team’s top five for the second consecutive meet. Arkansas’ scoring lineup was rounded out by Jessica Kamilos who finished in 19th place with a time of 21:47.8.
The team’s remaining runners included Diane Robison
in 34th place at 22:06.6, Rachel Carpino
in 35th at 22:08.3, Shannon Klenke
in 68th at 22:40.4, Keri Wood
in 69th at 22:42.3, Valerie Reina
at 125th at 23:28.3, Kelsey Wheelhouse
in 138th at 23:39.9 and Codi Fritchie in 282nd at 26:04.1. Saturday’s race marked the Razorbacks’ first 6,000-meter race of the season.
The Razorbacks are the No. 1 team in the South Central region and will host the NCAA Regional on Nov. 9 at Agri Park. The Chile Pepper Festival is Arkansas’ final race before the start of the championship season. The SEC Championships will be contested Oct. 26 at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Tenn.
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.