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Cross Country Fact Sheet #7

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Cross Country Fact Sheet #7

Regional Champions: After missing out on the NCAA South Central Regional title for two seasons, the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback cross country team reclaimed the regional championship at the Cottonwood Creek Golf Course in Waco, Texas. Along the way, the Lady Razorbacks placed six runners in the top19 to earn all-region honors and barely edged #20 Baylor by a single point in what was the closest regional meet in history.

The Pack Philosophy Wins: Arkansas has run as a pack all season and at its best had just 20 seconds between its first and last runner. At the NCAA South Central Regional, it was that pack philosophy that allowed it to win the championship. With a spread of just 41 seconds between Penny Splichal (1) and Christine Kalmer (5), the Lady Razorbacks were able to overcome Baylor’s sweep of the top two spots in the race and their 1:21 spread between their first and fifth-place runners.

Stepping Up at the End: Senior Penny Splichal has had an interesting career, but her performances at the SEC Championships and now at the NCAA South Central Regional are encouraging to say the least. Splichal, the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2001 got off to a tremendous start, faltering a little in the middle, but with seventh and fifth-place finishes at the SEC and Regional meet is coming on strong in the end. Splichal’s runs at the SEC and Regional Championships placed her second and first among Lady Razorback runners.

All-SEC and All-Region: Thanks to her top seven finishes at both the SEC and South Central Regional, Penny Splichal took honors at both meets for just the second time in her career. The honors are a tremendous capstone to her career that began with a bang and the same honors in 2001.

Not Far Off: Penny Splichal’s SEC Championship time of 20:06.83 is incredibly fast, but not her fastest. At the 2001 SEC Championships, she finished that 6K race in 19:49.66, the third fastest time in Lady Razorback history.

The NCAA Championships: The Lady Razorbacks are making their 23rd consecutive appearance at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., on Monday afternoon. This season, Arkansas brings a lineup full of veteran leadership and young talent as they seek to improve on their 16th-place finish from a year ago.

Last Season at the NCAA Championships: It was a tough meet for the Lady Razorbacks in 2004, but not bad by Arkansas standards. Entering the race as the 19th-best team in the country according to the polls, Arkansas picked up a great race from then junior Maureen Scott and senior Alison Rush to lead it to a 16th-place finish with 400 points.

13th Regional Title: Arkansas’ victory in Waco, Texas, is its 13th NCAA South Central Regional / District title over the past 22 seasons. No other school in the South Central Region can even make a claim to be close to Arkansas’ success.

Arkansas’ Freshman Leader: Christine Kalmer was Arkansas’ top finisher at the SEC Championships when she crossed the finish line in fifth place overall. She was the highest finishing freshman and ran a career best for 6,000 meters with her time of 19:59.56. She has been Arkansas’ top runner in four of six races this season and has put up some very impressive times along the way.

Only the Fourth: Christine Kalmer’s SEC Championship time of 19:59.56 makes her just the fourth Lady Razorback in school history to break the 20-minute marker for 6,000 meters. Only former Lady’Backs Andreina Byrd and Christin Wurth and current teammate Penny Splichal had achieved the task before.

All-SEC: By virtue of her fifth-place finish at the SEC meet, Christine Kalmer earned her first first-team all-SEC honor. She now has a chance to become one of an elite group of runners to claim four such honors in her career.

SEC Athlete of the Week: Thanks to her 10th-place finish at the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival, true freshman Christine Kalmer was named the SEC Athlete of the Week. The honor is the first of Kalmer’s career and the first for a Lady Razorback in 2005.

Sub 21: Freshman Christine Kalmer completed the 6,000-meter Agri Park Cross Country course in 20:56.3, despite it being her first collegiate 6K race. She improved on that race with her 19:59.56 at the SEC Championships making Kalmer the fourth fastest Lady Razorback in Arkansas history.

Three Straight Sub 18s: Freshman Christine Kalmer is the only Lady Razorback to post three times under 18 minutes this season. Kalmer has been Arkansas’ number one runner twice and the number three runner once. Despite the placing, she has posted times of 17:10, 17:59 and 17:47.

First Since: Christine Kalmer’s victory at the Missouri Southern Dual 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.

The National Poll: The FinishLynx/NCAA Women’s Cross Country Preseason Poll projected the Lady Razorbacks as the 17th best team in the nation. The ranking was just under Arkansas’ NCAA finish of a year ago (16th) and Arkansas head coach Lance Harter felt it was a fair ranking at the time. Since then, Arkansas has been on a yo-yo as it has moved all the way up to 10th and as far down as 19th before settling in to 16th in the sixth and final poll of the 2005 season.



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