What a Start: The Lady Razorback cross country team got off to a tremendous start to the 2005 season when they tallied a perfect score in their dual meet with Missouri Southern last Friday night, despite not running their big four. True freshman Christine Kalmer led the way with an easy individual victory while sophomore Beth Fahey finished second.
Sixth Straight Win: Arkansas’ win against Missouri Southern last Friday night was its sixth straight home opening win dating back to the fall of 2000 when it began to host an early meet.
16th Straight: Arkansas now has a streak of 16 straight opening day wins in cross country. Prior to the six dual meet/Fayetteville Invitationals, the Lady’Backs took 10 consecutive team titles, mostly at the Univ. of Kansas. The last time a Lady Razorback team lost an opening day meet was Sept. 29, 1989 when it finished second in Little Rock.
Kalmer Races to Victory: The Arkansas coaching staff had ideas that Christine Kalmer would be a benefit to the Lady Razorback program and the proof came at the Missouri Southern Dual when she won the individual title with a time of 17:10. Kalmer looked as if she were on a training run through the first two miles of the 5,000-meter race as she smiled and talked through the competition.
First Since: Christine Kalmer’s victory makes her the first Lady Razorback since 2001 to win an event in her first collegiate competition. The last Lady Razorback to accomplish the task was current senior Penny Splichal who won the Fayetteville Invitational.
Newbies Lead the Way: At the Missouri Southern Dual, it was Arkansas’ youngsters that led the charge. Freshman Christine Kalmer was the individual champion while sophomore Beth Fahey finished second. Crossing the line in third was another freshman Denise Bargiachi with fellow first-year Jennifer Harper on her heels. Redshirt freshman Dacia Barr came next with freshman Kelly Vrshek and sophomores Tiffany Redlarczyk and Caroline Peyton rounding out the top eight.
17th: The FinishLynx/NCAA Women’s Cross Country Preseason Poll was released late last week and the Lady Razorbacks begin the season 17th in the nation. Just under their NCAA finish of a year ago (16th), Arkansas head coach Lance Harter felt it was a fair ranking, but hopes to improve upon the mark as the season progresses.
Split Squad: The Lady Razorbacks split their quad this weekend with the majority of the team making a trip to the west coast while a pair drive up to Missouri Southern. The bulk of the crew is going to the Aztec Invitational where they take on some of the best that the west coast has to offer while the remainder takes part in the Southern Stampede.
The Aztec Invitational: Arkansas sends the majority of its squad to the Aztec Invitational including three of its four seniors and the top eight finishers from last weekend’s Missouri Southern Dual. Competition at Balboa Park begins bright and early at 8:45 a.m. pacific and should feature many west coast schools including a very good Northern Arizona squad and the host San Diego State.
The Aztec Lineup: The Lady Razorbacks that are traveling to California are: Denise Bargiachi, Dacia Barr, Beth Fahey, Jessie Gordon, Jennifer Harper, Laura Jakosky, Christine Kalmer, Caroline Peyton, Tiffany Redlarczyk, Penny Splichal and Kelly Vrshek.
The Southern Stampede: The Missouri Southern Stampede has been on the Lady Razorback schedule for the past three seasons and some years Arkansas sends a team, others it sends individuals. 2005 is an individual year that includes Laura Kerr and Lea Carruthers.
Impressing the Coaches: Freshman Denise Bargiachi ran at the Missouri Southern Dual meet unattached as a training exercise, but her results made the Arkansas coaching staff rethink their decisions. Bargiachi finished third overall with a time of 17:35 and looked very strong doing it. Her impressive performance at home has earned her a spot on this weekend’s traveling squad and potentially a spot on the road crew for the rest of the season.
The Return of the Seniors: While Arkansas won’t roll out their entire fleet of seniors this weekend, they do return three-quarters of the class that has been quite successful over the years. On the schedule to run this weekend include Jessie Gordon, Laura Jakosky and Penny Splichal who between them have earned three all-conference and six all-regional awards.
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.
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.