Opening Day Perfection: The Lady Razorbacks opened their 2006 season with perfection for the second straight season and for the third time in four years when they dominated the Fayetteville Invitational. Lady Razorback runners not only took the top five spots, but the top seven and eight of the top 10 to easily win their opener.
A Legacy of Winning: Arkansas has long been known for its winning cross country program, but one little known fact is that the Lady Razorbacks have won their last 17 opening meets of the season and 19 of the last 23.
Pack Running: Over the last several years, Arkansas has not had the dominant front runner that would take out a race and make people chase, so it has used a pack running mentality which keeps each of the Lady Razorbacks close together and by doing so lowers the team score. That philosophy was never more evident than last Friday night when a pack of six Lady Razorbacks crossed the finish nearly simultaneously led by sophomore Christine Kalmer. Just seven seconds behind that pack was another Lady Razorback and only 10 behind her was an eighth runner. Last season, Arkansas coach Lance Harter was happy if there was a 20-second difference between his first and fifth runner.
#8: The University of Arkansas Lady Razorback cross country team opens the 2006 season ranked eighth in the nation. Released on Tuesday, Sept. 12, the Lady Razorbacks tallied 269 points in the national poll. Ahead of Arkansas are Stanford, Colorado, Michigan, Oklahoma State, BYU, Illinois and Duke. The Lady Razorbacks ended the 2005 season ranked 16th in the final poll.
Highest Since: Arkansas’ preseason #8 ranking is its highest since the 2000 season when it entered the year #7. In 2002, the Lady Razorbacks were ranked ninth, and subsequent years placed Arkansas in the teens.
Regional Ranking: In the preseason regional rankings, the Lady Razorbacks were picked #1 by the regional committee. Arkansas is ahead of Baylor who sits in second and who is also among the nation’s elite with a preseason #13 ranking.
Kalmer Wins Again: Sophomore Christine Kalmer won the third race of her cross country career at the Fayetteville Invitational and for the second straight season she won her season opener. As a freshman she dominated the field at the Fayetteville Invite, but this season had to edge her teammates who ran along side her.
The SEC Freshman of the Year: Thanks to a tremendous season and a fifth-place finish at the Southeastern Conference Championships, Christine Kalmer was named the SEC’s Freshman of the Year in 2005. She became the second Lady Razorback to win the award since its inception in 2001.
First-Team All-SEC and All-Region: Along with her freshman of the year award, Christine Kalmer was also named first-team all-SEC and all-South Central Region in 2005 based on her performances at both championships.
Coming on Strong: Sophomore Dacia Barr has been widely recognized as one of the up and coming 1,500/mile runners in the nation and her performances at the NCAA track championships have backed that up. Interestingly though, Barr ran a tremendous 5K at the SEC Championships to finish fourth and has become quite the accomplished cross country runner.
Second Behind Kalmer: It happened most of the 2005 cross country season and the first race of 2006 is similar to those races. Dacia Barr was right behind Christine Kalmer for a potent 1-2 punch.
Freshmen Round Out Top Five: Arkansas head coach Lance Harter was excited about this upcoming season and about his freshman class. Four newcomers joined a redshirt in what could be one of the best groups in several years. The freshmen certainly did not disappoint their skipper as they finished 3-4-5-10-14 at the Fayetteville Invitational.
Don’t Forget: While Christine Kalmer, Dacia Barr and the freshmen were Arkansas’ top five runners last weekend, don’t forget the pair of Denise Bargiachi and Kelly Vrshek. The duo rounded out Arkansas’ top seven, were within strides of Arkansas’ top five, and have the experience of SEC and NCAA competition under their belts. Both runners will be counted on throughout the season.
Razorback Hall of Honor: A pair of Lady Razorbacks were inducted into the Razorback Hall of Honor last weekend marking the first time two people with women’s athletics ties have been enshrined in the same season. Former Lady’Back and 15-time all-American Amy Yoder Begley was voted on along with her former coach and current head coach Lance Harter. Both inductees received their plaques at halftime of the USC football game on Sept. 2 after an induction banquet on Friday, Sept. 1.
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.
First 5K: Typically, Arkansas opens with a 5K at the Fayetteville Invitational, but dropped to a 4K as a training exercise and to get the team acclimated to the cross country course once again. Because of this, the Aztec Invitational will be Arkansas’ first 5K of the season and should give the Lady Razorback coaches a better idea of what the team can accomplish.
A large Squad: The Lady Razorbacks are bringing a large squad to the Aztec Invitational this weekend. Arkansas will be 12 strong at the meet in what will eventually be a barometer for who will compete at the major races including the SEC, NCAA Regional and NCAA Championships. The final roster has not been set, but expect Arkansas’ top five from the Fayetteville Invitational to run.
Last Year at the Aztec: The Lady Razorbacks scored 31 points on their way to a victory at the Aztec Invitational last season. Christine Kalmer led a 4-5-6-7-9 Arkansas finish with Dacia Barr, Laura Jakosky, Caroline Peyton and Denise Bargiachi rounding out the scoring. Another instance of pack running, Arkansas had 14 seconds between their first and fifth runners and just 17 seconds between one and seven.
The SEC Coaches’ Poll: After several years away from the top spot in the conference, the Southeastern Conference coaches feel that the Lady Razorbacks are poised for greatness again. In the annual preseason coaches’ poll, the Lady Razorbacks were picked to finish first in the conference, barely edging Tennessee, the three-time reigning conference champion. Arkansas picked up seven of the 12 first-place votes cast for a total of 117 points. Tennessee was given the remaining first-place votes and was right behind Arkansas with 114 points. What could be a very good Georgia squad was third with 99 points.