Let the Championships Begin: The Southeastern Conference Championships mark the first of three national competitions to end the 2007 cross country season. On the agenda for the next five weeks are the SEC meet, the NCAA South Central Regional and the NCAA Championships.
Defending Champion: The Lady Razorbacks enter this weekend in a familiar, yet unfamiliar place, as the defending SEC Champions. Arkansas has won 11 SEC Cross Country titles over the years making it old hat for head coach Lance Harter. The current squad however has only won one of those titles so the experience is going to be new to them.
Last Fall’s Championship: It was the perfect storm for the Lady Razorbacks at the 2006 SEC Championships. Coming into the meet as the fourth-ranked team in the nation, the Lady’Backs had an advantage, but what they did with that was what became noteworthy. Arkansas dominated the competition by placing eight runners in all-SEC positions, placed five among the top six overall and scored a mere 17 points. Arkansas’ 44-point margin of victory was its fifth largest ever and its closest spread between its number one and number five runners, a scant eight seconds.
Entering the 2007 Meet: The Lady Razorbacks once again enter the SEC Championships as the pre-race favorite, a distinction it has earned many times over the years. Arkansas is currently the highest-ranked team nationally at 13th and was the preseason pick to win the conference title by the league coaches
Still Nationally Recognized: Entering the 2006 SEC Championships four teams were ranked among the nation’s top 30, a league record. The 2007 meet doesn’t have that same build up, but there are still three ranked teams. Arkansas is the highest at 13th followed by Florida (27th) and Georgia (29th). Kentucky is currently receiving votes in the national poll.
Welcome Back: The Lady Razorbacks are pleased to welcome back Dacia Barr to the lineup at the SEC Championships. Arkansas’ consistent number two runner a year ago, Barr missed the first half of the season to minor knee surgery and has been running for roughly a month heading into the SEC meet. Barr’s preseason in preparation for the conference championship included one race, the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival where she ran 4,000 meters with the Arkansas leaders before dropping out on orders from head coach Lance Harter as to not overwork her knee.
Back at Full Strength: With Dacia Barr back in the lineup, the Lady Razorbacks are finally back at full strength. Three juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen should hold up a good portion of the load this weekend.
A Hit at the Chile Pepper: With its second-place finish at the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival, the Lady Razorbacks took a hit in the national polls. Arkansas had been ranked among the nation’s top five all season, but tumbled to 13th following the upset loss to Texas Tech.
Bargiachi’s Emergence: Denise Bargiachi has been a consistent runner for the Lady Razorbacks for two seasons and beginning to come into her own this fall. A competitor at the NCAA Championships in the 10,000-meter run last spring, Bargiachi is quickly making a name for herself in cross country this fall as one of Arkansas’ top runners.
First Top Finish: Denise Bargiachi’s career has been one where she has been counted on to score, but never to lead, but the junior took that role at the Chile Pepper when she was Arkansas’ top finisher. Bargiachi finished eighth overall at the meet and took her first top finish as a Lady’Back in cross country.
Returning all-SEC Runners: The Lady Razorbacks return six runners to the course in 2007 who have earned at least one all-SEC honor in cross country. Christine Kalmer and Denise Bargiachi are the only Lady’Backs with two honors, Kalmer with two first team awards and Bargiachi a first and second, Dacia Barr (1st), Dani Parry (1st), Jennifer Harper (2nd), Miranda Walker (2nd) round out the all-SEC honorees.
SEC Athlete of the Week: For her part in Arkansas’ second-place finish at the Bill Dellinger Invitational, Jillian Rosen was named the Southeastern Conference’s Female Freshman of the Week. Rosen finished second among Lady Razorback runners with a time of 20:38 for 6,000 meters. Her time was tied for the 30th best in Lady Razorback history, an accomplished feat when you consider the lineage of Arkansas cross country and the fact that it was her first ever 6K.
Leading Freshman: After the first race of the fall, one may have thought that Catherine White would be Arkansas’ top freshman, but it has instead been Jillian Rosen. In four races this fall, Rosen has been among Arkansas’ top five runners in each competition and among its top two in three and has accumulated one of the team’s highest individual winning percentages.
Back at the Front: Christine Kalmer got off to a “slow” start by finishing the Fayetteville Invitational as Arkansas’ seventh runner. In fact, it was a planned start for the junior. Prepping for the end of the season, Kalmer reemerged at the head of the Arkansas pack at the Bill Dellinger Invite.
Her Seventh Time: Christine Kalmer’s top finish for the Lady Razorbacks at the Bill Dellinger Invite was the seventh time she has been Arkansas leader in her career. Spanning just over two seasons and 17 races, Kalmer has been Arkansas’ top runner 41 percent of the time.
Still Leading the South Central: Arkansas continues to lead the South Central Regional rankings, a spot they have maintained all season. The defending regional champion has been considered the best team for the past two seasons.
SEC Freshman of the Week: Fresh off her victory at the Fayetteville Invitational, Catherine White was named the SEC Freshman of the Week by the league office on Tuesday. White won her first collegiate competition at the Fayetteville Invitational and takes her first freshman of the week honor.
First Time: For the first time the Southeastern Conference is naming a freshman of the week in cross country. Catherine White’s appointment makes her the first in SEC and Arkansas history to win the weekly award.
First Race, First Win: Freshman Catherine White got her Lady Razorback cross country career off to a fast start with a victory at the Fayetteville Invitational. She is the first true freshman to win her first collegiate race since Christine Kalmer won the Fayetteville Invite in 2005.
SEC Championships, A Numbers Game: The Lady Razorbacks and the SEC Championships have a lot of history and even more numbers to go along with them. Here is a quick reference to the SEC Championships as it relates to the Lady Razorbacks: SEC Championships, 11; SEC Individual Championships, 10; tightest pack (1-5), eight seconds (2006); tightest pack (1-7), 24 seconds (2006); place differential (1-5), 4 (1999); place differential (1-7), 10 (2006); largest margin of victory, 81 (1999); smallest margin of victory, 6 (1995); smallest margin of defeat, 2 (2004); second-place finishes, 4; third-place finishes, 1; fourth or worse finishes, 0; all-SEC performers, 41; all-SEC performances, 76.
SEC Freshman of the Year: Last fall, Dani Parry was so good for the Lady Razorbacks that she earned SEC Freshman of the Year honors. Parry was consistently a member of Arkansas’ top seven and one of its top four runners in four of seven races.
Third Freshman of the Year: Dani Parry’s SEC Freshman of the Year award is not new to a member of the Lady Razorbacks. Since the awards inception in 2001, three Lady Razorbacks have been bestowed its honor. Aside from Parry, Christine Kalmer (2005) and Penny Splichal (2001) have also earned the award.