FAYETTEVILLE – With two weeks away from competition behind it, the No. 6 University of Arkansas men’s cross country team returns to the course Saturday for the 22nd Annual Chile Pepper Festival. The men’s collegiate 10K race is scheduled for a 9:45 a.m. (CT) start at Agri Park in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks have been idle since their second-place finish Sept. 25 at the Stanford Invitational.
"Our kids are ready to race," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "We’re getting close to the championship season. We always circle the Chile Pepper as an important precursor to the SEC Championship meet so we’re going to come out with our ‘A’ squad and see what we’re made of. We’ve got some great competition to go up against."
Arkansas’ lineup is set to include seniors Lane Boyer, Michael Chinchar and Dorian Ulrey; juniors Rick Elliott, Duncan Phillips and Dey Tuach; sophomores Tom Cattin-Masson, Cameron Efurd, Eric Fernandez, Scott Gillespie, Michael Golden, Solomon Haile and Aaron Hamilton; and freshmen Omar Abdi, Drew Butler and Bryan Cantero.
In their last outing, the Razorbacks earned a second-place finish at the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif. Haile was Arkansas’ top finisher with a sixth-place overall result as Arkansas totaled 43 team points. All five of the team’s point scorers-in order, Haile, Ulrey, Boyer, Fernandez and Chinchar-placed in the top 12. The Razorbacks finished 11 points behind host and top-ranked Stanford and finished ahead of third-place Northern Colorado, the then-No. 4 team in the nation.
The Chile Pepper field features five top-25 teams including Arkansas, defending national champion and No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 7 Indiana, No. 16 Oklahoma and No. 21 Tulsa. The Razorbacks will also have to contend with 10 teams from the South Central Region. Southeastern Conference foes Auburn and LSU are also scheduled to compete in Saturday’s race.
"If there is a bowl-like atmosphere for the sport of cross country, it is here at the Chile Pepper," Bucknam said.
The awards ceremony for the collegiate races is set for 11:05 a.m. The men’s collegiate 10K is just one of 10 races on the 2010 Chile Pepper Festival schedule. The day will also feature an Open division race, a fun run/walk and six junior high and senior high school races. For more information about the 22nd Annual Chile Pepper Festival, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com or chilepepperfestival.org.