Arkansas Harriers head to SEC Championships as
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas cross country team, ranked second in the nation, will travel to Gainesville, Fla., as heavy favorites for the 2002 Southeastern Conference Championships on November 4, at 10 a.m., ET.
“Of course we’re the favorite and we should be,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “Alabama has a good team, but I don’t think it’s as good as ours. They don’t have the depth we have, but they have four or five good runners up front. Stranger things have happened. If we stay healthy, I think we’ll be in good shape.”
McDonnell and his Hogs will be looking to extend one of the longest tenured championship streaks in collegiate athletic history when they try to capture their 29th consecutive conference cross country title, including their 12th straight since entering the SEC in 1991. Arkansas won 17 consecutive Southwest Conference cross country crowns from 1974-90.
Eight Razorbacks will compete in the 8,000-meter race at the University of Florida Golf Course. Juniors Westley Alkin and Chris Mulvaney; All-American juniors Alistair Cragg, Silverus Kimeli and Daniel Lincoln; sophomore All-American Jason Sandfort; freshmen Said Ahmed and Luis Bordes will represent Arkansas.
Alabama’s David Kimani is the favorite to earn the individual title after winning the past two years, but Coach McDonnell and his squad hope to bring the individual crown back to Arkansas. The last Razorback to win the SEC individual title was Michael Power in 1999.
“It’s time to get one (an individual title),” McDonnell said. “It would be nice. Since Kimani came on the scene, it’s been slim pickings up front, so it would be nice to get an individual title.
“I think we have a plan to go after him (Kimani),” McDonnell said. “I think Alistair ran a curious race at the Chile Pepper, because he had some mistakes. If we correct those, Kimani is beatable. I think Alistair Cragg is as good as a cross country runner as there is in the country. On a given day I think he can give him a run and Lincoln shouldn’t be far behind. Both of those guys could be up there with Kimani, but they can’t be guinea pigs for him either. He can’t piggyback off them.”
At the 2001 SEC Championships in Auburn, Ala., Cragg, Lincoln and Kimeli finished second (23:48), third (24:07) and fourth (24:18), respectively. Sandfort came in seventh (24:37), while Alkin placed 20th (25:19).
After the Razorbacks return from Florida they will have a short rest before competing at the South Central Regional Championships in Waco, Texas on November 16. The NCAA Cross Country Championships will follow shortly after on November 25, in Terra Haute, Ind., where Arkansas hopes to capture their 12th national cross country title.
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