The Chile Pepper: The Lady Razorbacks were last in action on Oct. 15 when they participated in the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival at the Agri Park Cross Country Course. Finishing second in the competition, the then 12th-ranked Lady Razorbacks were upset by 16th-ranked Oklahoma State by seven points.
Just Missing: Arkansas has finished second at the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival in each of the past two seasons, but amazingly, the Lady Razorbacks have lost the two races by a combined 16 points. In 2003 SMU beat Arkansas by nine and in 2004 it was Oklahoma State by seven.
The SEC Championships: The Arkansas Lady Razorbacks head into the 23rd annual Southeastern Conference Championships with some work ahead of them. On the one hand, they are the favorite as they are the highest-ranked team in the league. On the other, Arkansas ranked second in the SEC coaches preseason poll behind the Tennessee Lady Vols who are the two-time defending conference champions.
Last Season at the SEC Meet: In what was the closest SEC Meet in the 22-year history of the event, the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks finished two points behind the Tennessee Lady Vols for the league’s championship. Failing to claim its 11th conference title for the second straight year, Arkansas runners earned three all-SEC honors and placed five among the top 20, but its 57-point total was just off the Lady Vols’ 55.
|The 22nd Southeastern Conference Cross Country Championship|
|Saturday, October 30, 2004|
|Fayetteville, Ark.; Agri Park Cross Country Course|
|6,000 meters; warm, rolling hills; 97 finishers|
|1.||#14 Tennessee (4-8-10-15-18)||55|
|2.||#20 Arkansas (3-6-11-17-20)||57|
|3.||#14 Georgia (2-9-13-14-25)||63|
|7.||Mississippi St. (16-22-26-55-67)||186|
|11.||S. Carolina (23-46-59-66-71)||265|
Returning Runners: The Lady Razorbacks return five of their eight runners from last season’s SEC Championship squad that finished second to the Tennessee Lady Vols. Even though five of Arkansas’ 2004 squad are on the 2005 roster, only three will compete at the SEC Championships in South Carolina. Returning to the 2005 travel roster are senior all-SEC performer Laura Jakosky, seniors Jessie Gordon and Penny Splichal, sophomores Caroline Peyton, Beth Fahey and Tiffany Redlarczyk and freshmen Christine Kalmer, Dacia Barr, Denise Bargiachi, Jennifer Harper and Kelly Vrshek.
Fresh Faces: The Arkansas Lady Razorbacks are young this fall with 10 people on the 16-woman roster either a freshman or sophomore. It wouldn’t be surprising to see at least four or even five or six of those runners on the 2005 travel squad at the SEC Championships.
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.
Leading the charge: In three of four races freshman Christine Kalmer has led the charge for the Lady Razorbacks. Running against some of her senior teammates for the first time at the Aztec Invite, Kalmer cruised to a fourth-place overall finish in 17:59 making it her second consecutive sub 18-minute run.
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. Kalmer’s run is the 30th fastest time in Lady Razorback history for 6,000 meters and makes her the 12th fastest woman in UA 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 placings, 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. The release of the first poll moved Arkansas up one spot to 16 and after a pair of victories and a solid showing at Notre Dame; the Lady Razorbacks moved all the way to 10th. The Chile Pepper loss had a huge affect on Arkansas’ ranking as they fell five spots back to where they started, 17th.
|Arkansas in the Poll|
|Preseason||17th, 180 pts.|
|Week One||13th, 234 pts.|
|Week Two||10th, 257 pts.|
|Week Three||12th, 241 pts.|
|Week Four||17th, 181 pts.|
Top 10: Arkansas’ 10th-place ranking in the second FinishLynx/NCAA Cross Country Poll was its first top 10 ranking since the final poll of the 2002 season. In that ranking, Arkansas was eighth on Nov. 18, 2002.
The Regional Poll: While many look at the national poll, the Women’s Intercollegiate Cross Country Coaches’ Association also distributes a regional poll and the Lady Razorbacks have been the South Central’s top team for three consecutive weeks. Followed by Baylor in the week four rankings, the Lady Razorbacks have been the region’s top team all season.
Seeking 11: The Southeastern Conference has conducted a women’s cross country championships every year for the past 22 seasons and in that time the Lady Razorbacks have won 11 SEC titles. As the Lady Razorbacks seek their conference leading 11th SEC crown, Tennessee is hoping to claim number five with Florida and Kentucky stuck on three.
Amazing Considering: What makes Arkansas’ 10 SEC Championships over 22 years even more amazing is that they have only competed in 14 SEC meets. Arkansas was a member of the Southwest Conference prior to joining the SEC in the fall of 1991.
Never More Than Two: Arkansas joined the conference in the fall of 1991 and immediately ran off a string of five consecutive SEC titles before dropping their first to Florida in 1996. The Gators got the best of Arkansas again in 1997 but the Lady Razorbacks reclaimed the league title in 1998 and won another five straight to 2002 before Tennessee won the past two SEC titles.
Individual Titles: The Lady Razorbacks have been dominant as a team since joining the SEC in cross country, but also on the individual level as an Arkansas runners has won the league championship race nine times. Amy Yoder Begley took the title three times followed by Deena Drossin two times and Megan Flowers, Lillie Kleinmann, Andreina Byrd and Christin Wurth once a piece.
Last Time in Columbia: The Lady Razorback have been to Columbia, S.C., before for the SEC Cross Country Championships and don’t have fond memories of the Fort Jackson Military Base. While Amy Yoder Begley nearly won the league’s individual title, finishing second, several Lady Razorbacks suffered from dehydration and Arkansas finished second to Florida in 1997.
The SEC Preseason Poll: The Lady Razorbacks were tabbed to finish second in the Southeastern Conference’s annual preseason coaches’ poll which was distributed prior to the season. The Lady’Backs earned four of the 12 first-place votes awarded and totaled 113 points. Tennessee led the way with six first-place votes and 115 points.
Twice in Two Years: Arkansas’ second-place projection in the SEC Coaches’ Poll is the second time in two years in which they have not been pegged as the conference champion. Prior to last season it was 1997 when Florida was the top pick by the coaches.
Her Best Race: Senior Jessie Gordon has had some wonderful moments on the cross country course including a pair of South Central Region performances, but despite the honors, she had still never accomplished what she did at the Notre Dame Invitational. Finishing 24th overall, Gordon was Arkansas’ number one runner and ran a career best for 5,000 meters at 17:37.
First Time She’s First: Jessie Gordon’s first-place finish among the Lady Razorbacks is the first time she crossed the line as Arkansas’ top runner in her three-plus years on the squad. In fact, it is the first time she has ever finished higher than third among Lady Razorback runners.
16 Seconds: We mentioned that Jessie Gordon’s time at the Notre Dame Invitational was a career best for 5,000 meters, but we should note that it was a 16 second personal best for the Ardmore, Okla., native.
Another Personal Best: Continuing to make the most out of her senior year, Jessie Gordon put together another show at the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival when she ran another personal best, this time over 6,000 meters. Gordon finished the Agri Park course in 21:04.5, nearly 11 seconds better than her 2004 NCAA South Central Regional time of 21:15.
Only 10: The Lady Razorbacks coaching staff has had a rough week deciding who was going to compete at the SEC Championships. According to league rules, teams may only participate with 10 runners making the Arkansas coaches take off one runner from what they have been competing all season.
Here Comes Barr: We haven’t mentioned her before, but Dacia Barr is quickly emerging as one of Arkansas’ best cross country runners. A 1,500/mile runner on the track, Barr has adapted to the 6,000-meter cross country course as a redshirt freshman and been Arkansas’ second finisher in three of four races.
Another Sub 21: Lost in the Christine Kalmer 10th-place finish at the Chile Pepper was the performance of Dacia Barr who finished just behind her teammate at 12th with a time of 20:57.2, the 31st fastest in Lady Razorback history. The run also makes her the 13th fastest cross country runner Arkansas has had over 6,000 meters.
More Wins: Christine Kalmer has the individual title and Jessie Gordon has the winning percentage, but Dacia Barr leads the Lady Razorbacks in 2005 with the most individual wins with 561. Competing in all four Arkansas competitions this fall, Barr has finishes of fifth, fifth, 31st and 12th to amass a 561-49 individual record for a percentage of .920. Her percentage is second to Gordon’s .923.
Sixth Straight Win: Arkansas’ win against Missouri Southern on Sept. 9 was its sixth straight home opening win dating back to the fall of 2000 when it began to host an early meet.
16th Straight: Arkansas now has a streak of 16 straight opening day wins in cross country. Prior to the six dual meet/Fayetteville Invitationals, the Lady’Backs took 10 consecutive team titles, mostly at the Univ. of Kansas. The last time a Lady Razorback team lost an opening day meet was Sept. 29, 1989 when it finished second in Little Rock.
21 Seconds: Usually, teams like to keep their top five runners less than a minute apart in cross country and the closer they are the better off the team is. Arkansas took that charge a step further as they spanned 21 seconds not just between the scoring five, but between its top eight runners at the Aztec.
Impressing the Coaches: Freshman Denise Bargiachi ran at the Missouri Southern Dual meet unattached as a training exercise, but her results made the Arkansas coaching staff rethink their decisions. Bargiachi finished third overall with a time of 17:35 and looked very strong doing it. Her impressive performance at home earned her a spot on the travel squad for the Aztec.
Fifth and Ninth: After earning a spot on Arkansas’ travel squad at the Missouri Southern Dual, Denise Bargiachi did not upset her coaches when she looked even better at the Aztec Invitational. Bargiachi finished fifth for the Lady Razorbacks and ninth overall in a strong field and ran 18:13 for the 5,000-meter course, just 14 seconds off Christine Kalmer’s leading time for a Lady’Back.
Seventh: Denise Bargiachi continues to run well for the Lady Razorbacks as she was Arkansas’ seventh runner at the Notre Dame Invitational. In two races wearing the cardinal and white, Bargiachi has finished as Arkansas’ fifth and seventh runner.
Up and Up: Being just a true freshman one would expect there to be rough races for Denise Bargiachi, but the Memphis, Tenn., native seems unflappable. After a “bad” race at the Notre Dame meet where she finished as Arkansas’ seventh runner, she rebounded in her first 6K and finished 19th overall with a time of 21:20.1 at the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival.
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.