Arkansas Set to Host Chile Pepper Invitational
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The eighth-ranked Razorbacks are ready to host the Chile Pepper Invitational on October 18, with the collegiate men’s race beginning at 9:30 a.m. The 10K race will take place on the Razorback Cross Country Course. Arkansas hopes to use the Chile Pepper Invitational to rebound from its second place performance two weeks ago at the OSU Cowboy Jamboree.
“We’re pretty young and since we just suffered our first conference loss at OSU it will be good to see how the team reacts after being defeated,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “Hopefully they’ll run hard and do well. This is the best our conference has been in years and this is probably the weakest we’ve been in a while. The Chile Pepper will tell us how good we’re going to be and where we stack up nationally. There are some great teams competing like Abilene Christian and Alabama, and the top 25 individuals will be outstanding.”
Ten Razorbacks will represent UA on Saturday morning, including senior Chris Mulvaney, junior Jason Sandfort, sophomores Said Ahmed, Luis Bordes, Eric Gross, Matt Gunn and Michael Taylor and freshmen Josh Harper, Adam Perkins and Mike Poe.
Sandfort has consistently been Arkansas’ top finisher this season, while posting career-best times of 24:20 in the 8K and 19:53 in the four-mile. His four-mile time is leading the Southeastern Conference, while he 8,000-meter time is currently second. Bordes has provided solid performances, with his most recent coming in Stillwater, Okla., as he improved his career-best time to 24:41 with a 14th place showing.
The freshmen have also registered impressive finishes. At the Arkansas Invitational Perkins came in second place (20:11), while Harper and Poe helped lead the young squad at the OSU Cowboy Jamboree crossing the line together in 21st and 22nd (24:58).
As a senior in Mountain Home, Ark., Gross claimed the high school trophy and Saturday morning will mark the first time he has competed on the course since 2000.
A record-number forty schools will take to the trails for the 10K race. Joining Arkansas will be SEC opponents Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss. Other schools include Abilene Christian, Bacone, Baker, Belmont, Boise State, California-Davis, Centenary, Cloud County Community College, East Central Oklahoma, Eastern Oregon, Harding, Hastings, Houston, Kansas, Kansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, McMurry, Memphis, Missouri-Kansas City, New Mexico State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Rice, Samford, SMU, Stephen F. Austin, TCU, Texas-Arlington, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Texas Pan-American, Texas Tech, Tulsa, UTEP, Virginia Tech and Western Kentucky.
The Chile Pepper Invitational will be UA’s last regular season race before they prepare to defend their title at the Southeastern Conference Championships on November 3, in Athens, Ga. The Razorbacks will be in search of the 30th-consecutive league crown and 13th-straight SEC title.
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