Another Strong Performance: The Lady Razorback cross country team put forth another strong performance last weekend at the Indiana State Invitational, finishing second to #7 Michigan and ahead of #30 West Virginia. Scoring 50 points, Arkansas was only 16 points behind the winners as several Lady Razorbacks made their season debuts.
Rush Begins in Front: Similar to last season, senior Alison (Zeinner) Rush began the cross country season in fantastic shape and as a result was Arkansas’ top finisher at the Indiana State Invitational. Finishing fifth overall, Rush looked exceptional on the 5,000-meter course finishing in 17:51.74, to be one of just seven women to break the 18-minute mark.
Name Game: If you are confused, it’s Alison Rush, but it used to be Alison Zeinner. A few weeks before the fall, Alison was married and has adopted her husband’s name Rush.
Three in 10: At the Indiana State Invitational, the Lady Razorbacks placed three runners in the top 10 overall, a feat that was only bested by the winner Michigan who had four. Finishing up front for the Lady Razorbacks were Alison (Zeinner) Rush, Maureen Scott and Kristina Smith.
Looking Ahead: September 18 is going to be an off week for a majority of the Lady Razorback cross country team, but there are at least four, perhaps five that are scheduled to race in Joplin, Mo., at the Missouri Southern Stampede. On board are Lea Carruthers, Beth Fahey, Laura Kerr and Jessie Gordon with Tiffany Redlarczyk as a possibility.
What Sophomore Slump: It may be a little early to declare, but sophomore Kristina Smith is looking as good as she was as a freshman with her performances at the Fayetteville and Indiana State Invitationals. The Fayetteville meet saw her finish third overall and third on the Lady Razorback roster while Indiana State placed her 10th overall and once again third on Arkansas’ list of finishers.
As Solid as they Come: When it comes to consistency on the cross country course, many find that it is hard, perhaps impossible to maintain considering the different courses and settings, but Kristina Smith has been able to give Arkansas all the consistency that it could want. A mainstay on Arkansas’ traveling roster as a freshman, Smith has been third in both of Arkansas’ 2004 races and should be on the Lady’Backs travel roster again.
Bullets in the Chamber: One of the luxuries that the Lady Razorbacks have enjoyed this season is the fact that they have yet to run their A’ team in any race. While most of Arkansas’ lineup toed the line at the Indiana State Invite, there was a glaring absentee in multi-time all-American Erica Sigmont. Look for Arkansas to showcase its full potential at the Griak Invitational on Oct. 2.
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.
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.
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.