Last Weekend: The Lady Razorbacks participated in the Fayetteville Invitational last weekend and walked away with a solid victory by scoring just 16 points. Finishing 1-2-3-4-6, the Lady Razorbacks dominated Missouri Southern in what turned out to be a dual meet.
Leading the Way: Pacing Arkansas through the Agri Park Cross Country course was junior Penny Splichal who won the second collegiate race of her career. Splichal crossed the line in 17:42.19, 20 seconds ahead of teammate Laura Jakosky.
Not the Complete Lineup: What is most impressive about Arkansas’ accomplishment at the Fayetteville Invite was that a majority of its A’ team was standing on the sidelines. While Penny Splichal, Laura Jakosky and Kristina Smith will most likely make the traveling roster, Arkansas sat the likes of Alison (Zeinner) Rush, Shiloh Whiting, Erica Sigmont, Sarah Saffa and Maureen Scott.
18th in the Nation: The first FinishLynx/NCAA Division I Women’s Cross Country Poll was released on September 8 and the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks are ranked 18th in the nation. Featuring a veteran squad, Arkansas is the top-ranked team in the Southeastern Conference and previously was listed at number one in the South Central Region.
Not Bad Considering: Arkansas’ number 18 ranking is very good considering where its coming from. Last season the Lady Razorbacks were all but shut out of the NCAA Championships save for Shiloh Whiting who went as an individual, then they come back the following year ranked 18th. According to Arkansas head coach Lance Harter, some voters saw what Arkansas’ distance runners did at the end of the 2004 track season and others look at the Lady Razorback’s history.
Better than Predicted: It takes a coach to really know the pulse of a team and what it faces from meet to meet and in Lance Harter’s case he knows what he sees when he conducts practice every day. Following the release of the cross country poll, one of Harter’s comments was that he believed that his squad could be better than their initial ranking.
Proving Your Worth: The Lady Razorbacks get a chance to prove their 18th-place ranking this weekend when they travel to Terre Haute, Ind., to participate in teh Indiana State Invitational. For the Lady Razorbacks, they get a sneak peak at the host course for the NCAA Championships in a somewhat low-key affair, unlike the pre-nationals competition coming up in October.
Facing Stiff Competition: Although it isn’t the pre-nationals competition, Arkansas still gets a chance to run against some stiff cmpetition when it toes the start line with the likes of seventh-ranked Michigan and 30th-ranked West Virginia. Along with the Lady Razorbacks that makes three schools ranked competing in the first big meet of the season.
Last Year at this Time: Last season Arkansas knocked off a higher-ranked Georgetown squad at its second meet of the season. Could history repeat itself in 2004
The SEC Preseason Poll: The Lady Razorbacks were tabbed to finish second in the Southeastern Conference’s annual preseason coaches’ poll which was distributed on Monday, Aug. 30. The Lady’Backs earned three of the 10 first-place votes awarded and totaled 90 points. Tennessee led the way with five first-place votes and 94 points.
First Time Since: Arkansas’ second-place projection in the SEC Coaches’ Poll is the first time since 1997 in which they have not been pegged as the conference champion. In that season, Florida was the top pick by the coaches.
Winning: There is no better feeling in cross country than earning that single point and winning a competition. Lady Razorback junior Penny Splichal earned that exact feeling last weekend when she took top honors at the Fayetteville Invitational with a strong performance of 17:42.19, 20 seconds ahead of the field. The victory is Splichal’s second of her career adding to the Fayetteville Invite crown she took in the fall of 2001.
A Return to Prominance: While it may be high praise for Penny Splichal, the facts could outweigh the comment. Splichal struggled some during the 2003 season after missing almost all of 2002 with a variety of illness and ailments. In 2001 however, she was one of Arkansas’ best as she finished in the top five at every meet. That year began with a victory at the Fayetteville Invitational.
Tops in the Region: After a second-place ranking in the Southeastern Confernce, the Lady Razorbacks were informed that they were tops in the NCAA’s South Central Region. In the regional poll which helps make up the NCAA rankings, Arkansas stood ahead of Baylor, TCU, SMU and Texas A&M who were ranked second, tied for third and fifth, respectively.
Leading Returnee: She may not want to admit it, but junior Shiloh Whiting is Arkansas’ leading returnee this fall. The lone Lady Razorback to advance to the NCAA Championships last season, Whiting ended the 2004 season with the second highest winning percentage of any Lady Razorback and was at her best at the end crossing the finish line second and first for Arkansas at the SEC and NCAA South Central Region Championships.
Slow Start, Great Finish: While we could be talking about the way Shiloh Whiting approaches her races, this references the way she competed last season. Arkansas’ sixth runner at the Fayetteville Invitational in 2003, Whiting remained at the six position until she had a breakthrough at the SEC meet.
All-SEC and All-Region: Shiloh Whiting earned her second all conference honor last season when she finished 13th at the SEC Championships, then picked up an all-region honor with her fifth-place finish at the regional. The only other Lady’Back to pick up both honors in 2003 was Laura Jakosky.
Arkansas’ Indiana State Lineup: The Lady Razorbacks are ready to open with one of their top lineups at the Indiana State Invitational. Taking seven of their top eight runners, Arkanas is hoping that it can impress upon the nation that the 2003 season was a fluke and that it is ready to compete in 2004.