TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Eric Fernandez, a junior for the University of Arkansas men's cross country team, closed out his 2011 season Monday with a 38th-place finish at the 2011 NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. Having received an at-large bid into the national meet, Fernandez navigated the 10,000-meter LaVern Gibson Championship Course in a time of 30:10.4.
"I thought Eric did a very nice job," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "This is one of the toughest courses we've run on all year. It's a really tough race because of how concentrated it is and how many good athletes there are. He's an All-American. That was goal No. 1 so I am very happy and pleased with his effort today."
By virtue of his top-40 individual finish, Fernandez will earn the first cross country All-America honors of his career. He becomes the fourth cross country All-American performer under Chris Bucknam. Fernandez joins that list which includes Solomon Haile (2010), Scott MacPherson (2008) and Dorian Ulrey (2009, 2010). Fernandez earns the 94th All-America honor in Razorback program history.
With his performance Monday, the Ballwin, Mo., native wraps a successful junior campaign for the Razorbacks. During the season, Fernandez won two individual titles with victories at the season-opening Arkansas Invitational and the Southeastern Conference Championship. He was recognized as the 2011 SEC Men's Runner of the Year and collected All-SEC and All-South Central Regional accolades.
"If I were to count how many text messages I got this weekend, it's an obscene amount," Fernandez said of being the Razorbacks' lone runner in the race. "So I haven't felt alone one bit this entire trip. The whole network of teammates and community that I have at Arkansas and from my past make me feel that I'm always in good company."
The team title at the 2011 NCAA Championships went to Wisconsin with 97 points, 42 points ahead of runner-up and defending national champion Oklahoma State. Lawi Lalang of Arizona won the individual title in a time of 28:44.1.
For more information regarding Razorback cross country or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.