FAYETTEVILLE — Behind a powerful one-two punch, the Texas Tech Red Raiders scored a minor upset against the fourth-ranked University of Arkansas Lady Razorbacks at the 19th annual Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival.
With Sally Kipyego taking the overall women’s collegiate title in 19:49.2 and her teammate Irene Kimaiyo second, Tech scored 83 points to Arkansas 87 in the 41-team field. Virginia Tech was third with 130 points and California-Irvine a distant fourth with 195.
Arkansas entered the race undefeated on the young cross country season, but the Lady Razorbacks’ were training through Chile Pepper with a focus on upcoming championship events later in the fall.
As a result, the front runners for Arkansas were unable to give the Lady’Backs the top low-point scores to overcome Texas Tech’s front.
Although Arkansas placed its entire scoring contingent ahead of the Tech fifth runner, the Lady’Backs were beaten at the three spot where Gladys Kipsang was able to slide ahead of Arkansas’ frontrunner, Denise Bargiachi.
“Our depth paid off today and our five through seven runners did the work,” UA head coach Lance Harter said. “Up through this week, we’ve had the great front runners and the solid depth. As a coach, you want to see that every week. Some days, however, you don’t have it and we’ll take the good with the bad today.”
Bargiachi turned in a time of 21:10.4 for the 6,000 meter course that will serve as the NCAA South Central Regional Championship site in November. She was followed for Arkansas by Dani Parry in 14th overall at 21:25.4.
The Lady’Backs finished in a tight pack as they have all season with Miranda Walker as the third runner in 18th with a time of 21:38. Christine Kalmer was next at 22 for score and 21:44 on time. Arkansas’ fifth was Jillian Rosen with 25 points and a 21:49.
The rest of the Lady’Backs finished within the next minute, again showing the depth for Arkansas with Jennifer Harper at 21:53 and Tiffany Redlarczyk at 21:59.
Even though Redlarczyk at the seventh runner had a score of 33 – far better than Tech’s Chepleting Boit at 57 as the scoring fifth – the front-loading of Tech’s score with only 10 points out of the top three proved insurmountable.
“We’ll be ready by conference and we’ll have all our guns on the course in November,” Harter said. “We had others today that had to step up, and they did. We’re proud of that and it will help us in those championship races. We were very solid in the middle.”
Kipyego put a whole minute on the field, showing why she may be the woman to beat in the individual race at the NCAA Championships.
“Their (Texas Tech) one two is something else,” Harter said. “They are unstoppable. The rest of us had to just let them go and battle as teams.”
The race was one of the largest in Chile Pepper history as the hosting role of the Agri Park Cross Country Course brought teams from across the South Central region. Looking like a revival of the old Southwest Conference days, Arkansas faced and defeated many of its old rivals including Texas at sixth place with 224, Texas A&M at seventh with 233 and SMU in 18th with 520.
The meet also brought out Arkansas’ current conference rivals. Auburn was 11th with 338 and Vanderbilt at 15th with 407. Alabama was 21st with 572 and LSU 2nd at 641.