A New Season: The Lady Razorbacks begin the 2005 season on Friday night when they host Missouri Southern University in a dual meet at Agri Park in Fayetteville. The matchup is a repeat of last season.
New Faces: The Lady Razorbacks bring five new faces to the team in 2005 and welcome one redshirt for a total of six newcomers to an already potent lineup. Hailing from all over the country, the new Lady Razorbacks should add addition depth to Arkansas’ roster.
Seniors: The Lady Razorbacks have four seniors on the roster that have been through the battles of the cross country course and are wily veterans. Each has earned all region honors and most all conference recognition making it one of the most veteran teams the Lady Razorbacks have fielded.
Last Season at the Mo. Southern Dual: Last season the Lady Razorbacks looked phenomenal in their regular season debut against Missouri Southern. Finishing 1-2-3-4-6, Arkansas nearly completed the cross country sweep, but missed it by a single runner and point. Then junior Penny Splichal won the race by 25 seconds to claim her second career victory.
A Short Course: One of the benefits of running a cross country race this early in the season is that it allows runners to get acclimated with competitive racing. Instead of running the championship distance 6,000 meters, the Arkansas-Missouri Southern Dual Meet will be contested on a 5,000-meter course.
Who Will Race: The Lady Razorbacks plan to run nearly their entire squad in the opening meet of the season, but missing from the lineup are the veteran seniors. A training exercise for Arkansas’ up and comers, there will be a host of young talent on display for Lance Harter and his coaching staff to evaluate.
Top Returnee Racing: The Lady Razorbacks are going to be without their top four runners in the Missouri Southern Dual Meet, so leading the charge for Arkansas should be sophomore Tiffany Redlarczyk. Redlarczyk was a huge boost to the Lady Razorback traveling squad in 2004 as she improved with every competition. At the 2004 dual meet, Redlarczyk was Arkansas’ fifth runner completing the 5,000-meter course in 19:11.77.
10 Runners: While Redlarczyk is Arkansas’ top returnee, she gets to lead a group of 10 Lady Razorbacks at the Missouri Southern Dual Meet. Competing for the Lady Razorbacks are a senior, junior, four sophomores, one redshirt freshman and three freshmen.
Who to Count On: With four of Arkansas’ top seven not running this weekend, the Lady Razorbacks are counting on several runners to step up and fill the void. Junior Laura Kerr will certainly be one of those runners as will Beth Fahey, Caroline Peyton and Lea Carruthers. Kerr has been a member of Arkansas’ top eight for the past two seasons and will get a large chunk of the burden. Fahey competed sparingly for the Lady’Backs in cross country as a true freshman and looks much improved as a sophomore.
The SEC Preseason Poll: The Lady Razorbacks were tabbed to finish second in the Southeastern Conference’s annual preseason coaches’ poll which was distributed last week. The Lady’Backs earned four of the 12 first-place votes awarded and totaled 113 points. Tennessee led the way with six first-place votes and 115 points.
Twice in Two Years: Arkansas’ second-place projection in the SEC Coaches’ Poll is the second time in two years in which they have not been pegged as the conference champion. Prior to last season it was 1997 when Florida was the top pick by the coaches.
First Races: Of Arkansas’ 10 runners at the Missouri Southern Dual Meet, three are making their Lady Razorback debuts while another is competing in her first cross country race. The newcomers include the freshmen class of Jennifer Harper, Christine Kalmer and Kelly Vrshek. Dacia Barr ran for the Lady’Backs in both indoor and outdoor track last year and makes her cross country debut on Friday.
Combined Experience: The Lady Razorbacks that are toeing the line on Friday night have not been around collegiate cross country very much. Laura Kerr is the most experienced runner with 11 career races. Next on the list is Tiffany Redlarczyk with seven followed by Lea Carruthers with six. Combined, the 10 competing Lady Razorbacks have run in 33 career races.
Academic all-American: It should be pointed out that senior Maureen Scott not only gets the job done on the cross country course but in the classroom as well. Following six semesters of perfect 4.0 grade point averages, Scott earned her second first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America honor and has a chance to be the first three-time honoree in Lady Razorback history.
The National Coaches Poll: The FinishLynx/NCAA National Cross Country Coaches Poll has not been released as of yet, but we do have confirmation that it was supposed to come out after Labor Day so it could be any time.
Last Year: Many times the cross country poll is based off of last season’s NCAA Championship results, a voting strategy that should help the Lady Razorbacks. Arkansas finished 16th in the nation at the 2004 NCAA Championships and lost just two runners from that squad. Expect the Lady Razorbacks to be ranked high when the 2005 poll is released.