COLUMBIA, S.C. – Even a strange race to the finish line didn’t stop Arkansas from claiming the 2005 Southeastern Conference Cross Country Championship on Hilton Field at Ft. Jackson. Senior Josphat Boit successfully defended his individual title, helping the Razorbacks extend their long-standing winning streak to 32-consecutive conference cross country titles, including 15-straight SEC crowns since entering the league in 1991.
“It’s marvelous to think of getting 32 in a row,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “We really rose to the occasion and we were solid up front. Josphat ran a great race and beat a great field.”
Saturday morning’s victory also gave UA its 77th overall and 38th SEC conference championship, including cross country, and indoor and outdoor track and field. With five runners in the top 10 the No. 1 ranked Hogs tallied 23 points over No. 20 Alabama who finished second with 73 points. Eighth-ranked Florida was third with 87. The 50-point margin of victory was the largest since 1993, when UA beat Tennessee by 57 in Baton Rouge, La.
The team and individual titles were in question after the top four runners were guided off the official course as they approached the finish chute. Boit, Alabama’s Augustus Maiyo and UA’s sophomore Shawn Forrest and freshman Kenny Cormier were about 200 meters out as they cut the final corner to cross the finish line.
Junior Peter Kosgei was following closely, but was rerouted once meet officials realized the mistake. The four-time track All-American had to turn around and go through the proper path, displacing him from fifth to eighth place.
Once the protest period had ended officials made the results official, allowing the Razorbacks to confidently celebrate a victory.
“I was worried at first when they started talking about disqualifying people,” McDonnell said. “We figured out that we still would have won, even if our top three finishers didn’t count. It would have been a real shame for the guys if anything would have happened, because it was such a classy race.”
Boit became only the third UA athlete to win two-straight SEC titles. He led the 7,900-meter race the entire way and broke away with approximately two kilometers remaining to turn in a time of 22:59. Michael Power was the last Hog to take home two wins in a row when he did it in 1998-99.
“I was really happy about it (winning two-straight), because it doesn’t happen often,” Boit said. “The way the team ran together was perfect. I’m excited for nationals, because this race has given me confidence.”
Crimson Tide runner Maiyo earned runner-up honors with a clocking of 23:01 and Forrest was close behind in third with 23:03 after picking up second place in 2004. Cormier had an outstanding showing and grabbed fourth place with a time of 23:11. Senior All-American Marc Rodrigues came in seventh-place with a 23:27 performance, while Kosgei ran 23:31 for eighth place, rounding out the UA scorers.
In his first SEC championship meet junior Adam Perkins garnered All-SEC honors as he finished 13th with a time of 23:46. Junior Seth Summerside moved up considerably as the race progressed to grab 15th place (23:51).
Sophomore Tyler Hill recorded a time of 23:53 for 18th place and senior Josh Robles was 22nd (24:05). Freshman Chris Barnicle came in 50th (25:01).
After the Razorbacks return from South Carolina they will have one week off before competing for an automatic berth to nationals at the NCAA South Central Regional Championships in Waco, Texas on Nov. 12. The 2005 NCAA Championships are set for Nov. 21 in Terre Haute, Ind.
Download: SEC men results 2005.pdf