FAYETTEVILLE – For the second time in program history, the University of Arkansas will host the 2012 NCAA Division I South Central Regional Championships on Friday, Nov. 9, at Agri Park, the Razorbacks’ home course. The women’s 6K race will begin at 11 a.m. (CT) while the men’s 10K competition is set for a 12:15 p.m. start. Fayetteville previously served as the regional host city in 2007.
The regional meet serves as a gateway event to the 2012 NCAA Division I Championships, which will be contested Saturday, Nov. 17, at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky. The top two teams and top four individuals not on an advancing team receive an automatic berth into the national meet. Addition teams and individuals are chosen through an at-large selection process.
Arkansas is the defending champion on the women’s side. In the most recent release of the USTFCCCA national poll, the Razorbacks are ranked 12th, Texas is No. 22 and SMU is receiving votes. Those three teams are also the top three teams, respectively, in the South Central rankings. The regional top five is rounded out by LSU in fourth and Texas A&M in fifth.
This year’s field of teams will include two conference champions in SMU (Conference USA) and Stephen F. Austin (Southland) and five conference runners-up in Arkansas (SEC), Arkansas State (Sun Belt), Houston Baptist (Great West), Sam Houston State (Southland) and UT-San Antonio (WAC). There are also two individual conference champions in the field with Judith Chumba of UT-Pan American (Great West) and Lauren Smith of Stephen F. Austin (Southland).
In the men’s competition, Texas is the defending region champion. There will be three nationally ranked teams featured in Friday’s race with No. 5 Texas, No. 10 Arkansas and No. 29 Texas A&M. Along with the three ranked teams, the top-five poll in the South Central region includes McNeese State at fourth and Lamar at fifth.
The men’s field will include four teams that won their respective conference meet. Arkansas won the SEC, Arkansas-Little Rock won the Sun Belt, McNeese State won the Southland and UT-Arlington won the WAC title. The race will also include conference runners-up Lamar (Southland), North Texas (Sun Belt) and Texas (Big 12). Individual conference champions in Friday’s race will be Henry Lelei of Texas A&M (SEC) and David Rooney of McNeese State (Southland).
The South Central region is comprised of teams from a three-state range—Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas—and consists of programs from eight different conferences in the Big 12, Conference USA, Great West, Southeastern Conference, Southland, Southwestern Athletic Conference, Sun Belt and Western Athletic Conference.
Including Fayetteville, there are nine NCAA Division I regional sites. The other host sites this season are Madison, Wis. (Great Lakes); University Park, Pa. (Mid-Atlantic); Springfield, Mo. (Midwest); Fort Collins, Colo. (Mountain); Madison, Conn. (Northeast); Tallahassee, Fla. (South); Charlotte, N.C. (Southeast); and Seattle, Wash. (West). All nine regional meets will be contested Friday.
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. In addition to the Razorbacks’ web site, race results will be posted to BranchSportsTech.com.