FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – In front of an enthusiastic home crowd, the Arkansas Razorback women’s cross country team earned a runner-up finish at the 20th annual Chile Pepper Festival on Saturday morning.
For the second year in a row, Texas Tech’s powerful punch, including two-time NCAA Cross Country Champion Sally Kipyego, was too much for the Razorbacks. In the 39-team field, Texas Tech won the team race with 72 points. Arkansas was second with 101 points and SMU rounded out the top three with 139 points.
"We had a great race planning going into the meet," head coach Lance Harter said. "Unfortunately, Jillian Rosen had kind of an off day so it didn’t work out like we planned. Catherine (White) looked really strong today and led our team through this race. Jillian is a strong runner and she’ll bounce back. Megan Jackson was really a shining moment for us today. Coming back from being sick, she raced really well and looked strong."
"This was a good, solid meet for us," Harter said. "Denise Bargiachi really picked it up at the end and had a strong finish after starting out really slow. We add Dacia Perkins into the mix at SEC Championships and that will be a huge boost for us, mentally and physically."
For the third race this season, sophomore Catherine White was the top finisher for the Razorbacks. She finished seventh overall in the field of 306 harriers. She was the top Southeastern Conference runner to cross the finish line and the second South Central Region runner to finish. She clocked a 6,000-meter time of 20:32.84, just shy of her personal best (20:30.55).
"I think this race went really well," White said. "It gives me a lot of confidence going into SECs. For the first two-thirds of the race I felt strong and confident. I tried to finish as strong as I could. The home crowd made it a great atmosphere today. It was a fun environment to race in. I think this was another good stepping stone for the team as a whole. Everyone is looking strong and fit and getting ready to race at SECs."
Making a strong push at the finish, Denise Bargiachi was the second Razorback to cross the line. She placed 16th overall with a 6K time of 21:02.11. She was the second SEC runner to finish and was fifth among South Central Region competitors.
Right behind Bargiachi was Christine Kalmer in 17th place. She clocked a time of 21:03.31 as Arkansas’ third runner. Arkansas’ fourth runner, Jillian Rosen, earned a 25th-place finish overall with her 6K time of 21:29.89.
Megan Jackson rounded out Arkansas’ scoring five with a 36th-place finish. In her first race since being sidelined with a severe illness, she clocked a 6K time of 21:47.28.
Also competing for Arkansas were Ashley Williams (101st; 22:47.99), Samantha Learch (111th; 22:53.44) and Ashley Mason (114th; 22:55.63).
Next up for Arkansas women’s cross country will be the SEC Championships, Mon., Nov. 3 at Mississippi State. For more information about Arkansas cross country, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.