ORLANDO, Fla. – Freshman Denise Bargiachi was an integral part of Team USA’s near perfect score at the North America, Central America, Caribbean Junior Cross Country Championships when she finished fourth overall at the meet in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday.
Bargiachi, an all-Southeastern Conference performer during her true freshman season, ran 14:47.58 for her fourth-place finish, just 16 seconds off the eventual winner Kate van Buskirk of Canada. Setting up early with the leaders in the 4,000-meter race, Bargiachi was the overall leader at some points during the race, but eventually succumbed to van Buskirk, a second Canadian runner and Bargiachi’s USA teammate Kauren Tarver.
“I am so proud of Denise,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “She has been improving ever since she arrived at Arkansas and now USA Track & Field has taken notice of her abilities. I’ve been asked several times since the USA Championships about Denise and know that there are many people out there that are excited about her prospects.”
As a team, the United States finished 3-4-5-7-8, for a near perfect score of 19 points. Canada took second with 22 points followed by Jamaica and Puerto Rico. Team USA’s average time for its five runners was just over two seconds better than the Canadians who’s 1-2 sweep put them in prime position to win, but the United States’ pack running and 34 second spread between its first and fifth runner proved to be the difference maker.
To qualify for the meet, Bargiachi finished ninth at the USA Junior Cross Country Championships in New York, New York. On the bubble for both the World Championships and the NACAC meet, she was asked to participate in the latter when several of the top runners chose to only compete at the World Championships in Japan.
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