Regional Champions: The University of Arkansas had one goal when it went to the NCAA South Central Regional and that was to qualify for the NCAA Championships. The Lady Razorbacks got that and more as they dominated the 14-team field and won their second consecutive and 14th overall NCAA region or district title.
Second Largest: When we say that the Lady Razorbacks dominated the field we mean it. The 53-point margin of victory for Arkansas was the second largest and trails on the 1994 effort of the Lady Razorbacks (67).
Still Undefeated: We have had a theme going all year about how Arkansas remains undefeated and it hasn’t been until the past couple of weeks that it has really meant something. Arkansas is currently 90-0-0 and is going to the NCAA Championships without a loss for the first time since 1993.
Fourth Time: In case you are wondering, Arkansas is entering the NCAA Championships undefeated for the fourth time in school history. The other three times were 1991, 1992 and 1993 and each led to a NCAA runner-up performance.
Only Unbeaten: While the research is still being compiled, it appears that the University of Arkansas enters the NCAA meet as the only school with an unblemished record. The two schools that were believed to have been unbeaten, Stanford and N.C. State, each picked up a loss during the season. Stanford in the season’s opening meet and N.C. State at Notre Dame.
16 Seconds: For the past several years, Arkansas head coach Lance Harter has talked about running as a pack and using that to key victories. Never has that been so true as 2006. At the NCAA Regional meet, Arkansas put just 16 seconds between its first and seventh finisher to pick up 30 points overall, have all seven runners earn all-region honors and qualify for the NCAA Championships.
Average: Shockingly, the Lady Razorback’s average margin between its first and fifth runner this fall has been just 12.17 seconds. Over the course of six meets, the Lady Razorbacks have turned in spreads of 1, 21, 15, 18, 8 and 10 seconds. If you look at the spread between first and seventh, the number increases to 28.67 which many coaches would love to get between their top three let alone seven.
Interchangeable Parts: What is perhaps even more impressive than the time difference between Arkansas’ runners is the fact that it isn’t the same five or same seven every race. In each competition someone has stepped up and carried the slack for someone else and that is proven by the fact that six Lady Razorbacks have factored into the top five this fall and another three into the top seven.
Number Two: In the latest US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches of America coaches poll, the University of Arkansas impressed so many people that they moved up to second behind Stanford. The Lady’Backs were fourth in the last poll and jumped two spots thanks to their impressive regional victory.
Best Since: Arkansas’ number two ranking is its best since the Nov. 2, 1999 poll when it was also ranked second in the nation. That poll was entering the regional weekend and Arkansas emerged from the competition ranked third after a performance that wasn’t quite as dominating as the 2006 teams.
First-Place Vote: What is even more interesting than Arkansas’ climb to second in the national poll is the fact that it picked up one of the 13 first-place votes, dinging Stanford’s strangle hold on the 13 voters. Arkansas’ vote is the only time this season that Stanford has not received all 13 first-place votes and a perfect score of 390.
Last First-Place Vote: You got it, Nov. 2, 1999, was the last time that Arkansas picked up a first-place vote in the national poll.
SEC Champion: Freshman Brooke Upshaw was the SEC’s individual champion, earning the first race victory of her young career. Upshaw ran side-by-side with Tennessee’s Sarah Bowman for most of 5,000 meters before opening a gap and surging forward for the title.
First Freshman Since: Brooke Upshaw’s surprising Southeastern Conference individual championship was not a first, but it is certainly not likely. She is the first freshman since Alabama’s Becki Wells to win the league championship in her first season.
Second Lady’Back Frosh: Brooke Upshaw’s victory at the SEC Championships as a true freshman is an amazing achievement, but not a first. She is the second Lady Razorback freshman to accomplish the task following in the footsteps of Deena Drossin who did the same thing in 1991.
Seventh Lady Razorback: With her individual title at the SEC Championships, Brooke Upshaw became the seventh Lady Razorback to win the race. Other Lady’Backs that have taken the league’s top honor include Deena Drossin (1991, 92), Megan Flowers (1994), Amy Yoder Begley (1997, 98, 99), Lilli Kleinmann (2000), Andreina Byrd (2001) and Christin Wurth (2002).
School Record: Brooke Upshaw’s fifth-place finish at the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival set a school record for single-meet victories at 344. She eclipsed the mark of Andreina Byrd who had 296 wins at the Great American in 2001.
SEC Champions Again: The University of Arkansas Lady Razorbacks not only regained the Southeastern Conference cross country title, they did it in grand fashion. Scoring just 17 points in the meet, Arkansas placed five runners among the race’s top six and had eight competitors earn all-SEC honors.
11th Title: Arkansas’ conference championship is its 11th SEC title in school history. The total is a conference record well ahead of Tennessee who sits in second with five.
11 of 16: One of the interesting and most impressive of Arkansas’ 11 SEC Championship trophies is that it has done it in just 16 years of SEC competition. The league has hosted a conference cross country championship since 1983 and the Lady Razorbacks have won 11 of the 24 contested races and 11 of the 16 they participated in.
Second Lowest Total: At the 2006 SEC Championships, the Lady Razorbacks scored 17 points, two off a perfect score, and notched the second lowest point total in league history. The lowest total was Arkansas in 1999 when it did achieve a perfect score of 15.
Seventh Largest Win: Arkansas’ 44-point victory at the SEC Championships is the seventh largest spread in the league’s 24-year history. Arkansas holds the record for largest spread at 81 which it set in 1999 and now holds five of the top eight largest victories.
Last Fall at the NCAA Championships: The Lady Razorbacks brought an interesting team to the 2005 NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., with three seniors and four freshmen. The team performed admirably, taking 19th overall with senior Penny Splichal leading the way with an 89th-place finish.
NCAA Championships History: Arkansas has participated 20 NCAA Championships as a team and has placed at least one runner in every NCAA meet since 1982. Over that time, the Lady Razorbacks have earned four NCAA runner-up trophies as well as a third-place finish and two other top 10s.
NCAA Experience: If there is one thing that the Lady Razorbacks are lacking entering the 2006 NCAA meet its experience. Only three of Arkansas’ projected seven runners have competed at the NCAA meet before (Christine Kalmer, Dacia Barr and Denise Bargiachi) and each has done so only one time. For reference, Kalmer finished 102nd overall last fall, Barr 134 and Bargiachi 162.
Top Individual: Perhaps the two greatest distance runners in Arkansas history share a bond in that they are also the top finishers for Arkansas at the NCAA Championships. Deena Drossin and Amy Yoder Begley each share the distinction of finishing as the NCAA cross country runner-up, Drossin in 1992 and Yoder Begley in 1999.
All-Americans: This fall more than ever, we should at least talk about Arkansas’ cross country all-Americans. Over the years the Lady Razorbacks have had 14 runners earn all-America honors with the latest being Londa Bevins and Christin Wurth in 2002. Those 14 runners have amassed a total of 26 certificates and only one has accomplished the task four times (Amy Yoder Begley, 1996-99).
Saving Her Best: Sophomore Christine Kalmer has been a force for the Lady Razorbacks ever since she set foot on campus in the fall of 2005. The SEC Freshman of the year last fall, Kalmer opened this season with a victory at the Fayetteville Invitational and is saving her best for the final meets of the season. She returned to Arkansas’ top individual spot at the regional championship and has been in Arkansas’ top three in each of the past three races.
Worst Race: Christine Kalmer’s worst race of the fall was at the Bill Dellinger Invitational and in that competition she placed a surprising 10th overall. In her six races, Kalmer has finished 1, 3, 4, 7 (2 times) and 10.
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.
SEC Athlete of the Week: Thanks to her win at the Arkansas Invitational, Christine Kalmer opened the 2006 season with SEC Athlete of the Week honors. The honor is the second of Kalmer’s career and goes with the one she received in 2005 for her finish at the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival.
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.
SEC Athlete of the Week: For Danielle Parry’s effort at the Bill Dellinger, she was named the SEC Athlete of the Week. She was Arkansas’ top finisher in the race and picked up her first conference honor. She was also the second Lady Razorback to earn SEC Athlete of the Week honors this fall along with sophomore Christine Kalmer.
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.