Back in Action: After taking a couple weeks off from competition, the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks are read to get after it once again as they compete at the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival in Fayetteville.
Last Competition: The Lady Razorback’s last competition came at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, Minn., where they faced a large and tough field. Finishing fifth overall, Arkansas defeated the likes of #8 Princeton and several other ranked teams.
The Latest Poll: The Latest FinishLynx/NCAA Women’s Cross Country Poll has the Lady Razorbacks ranked 21st. While remaining steady in the poll, the pollster’s main reasoning for Arkansas’ position seems to be lack of competition.
Arkansas’ No. 1: The results don’t lie, Arkansas’ No. 1 runner this season has to be senior Alison (Zeinner) Rush. Rush has competed in two competitions this fall and been Arkansas’ top runner in both races including the Griak Invitational. At the Griak, Rush finished 18th overall to pace Arkansas to a fifth-place team finish.
No. 1 at Indiana State: We mentioned that Alison (Zeinner) Rush was Arkansas’ No. 1 runner twice this season, so we should inform you that the other competition was the Indiana State Invite where she was fifth overall.
The Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival: For the 13th year the Event Group headlined by Fayetteville business owner Joe Fennell is hosting the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival at the Agri Park Cross Country Course. One of the most famous cross country races in the Midwest, the Chile Pepper brings teams from all over the country who seek a quality competition just weeks away from their conference championships. Not just a collegiate race, the Chile Pepper also boasts several high school and open competitions.
Arkansas’ Participation: For the 12th time in the 13-year history of the Chile Pepper, the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks are competing. The Lady Razorbacks have won the race 10 times in their history with their last defeat coming in 2003.
Last Season at the Chile Pepper: The Lady Razorbacks were upset at home in the 2003 Chile Pepper when Nevada and Texas Tech each placed just ahead of Arkansas who settled for third. In what was a tough competition for the Lady’Backs, Maureen Scott led the way with an 18th-place finish.
The Entire Team: We mentioned it as a possibility a few weeks ago, but it didn’t materialize. This weekend however, the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks should be at full strength and run each of its top runners in an effort to avenge their defeat at the Chile Pepper from a year ago. Scheduled to compete are Laura Jakosky, Laura Kerr, Tiffany Redlarczyk, Alison Rush, Sarah Saffa, Maureen Scott, Erica Sigmont, Kristina Smith, Penny Splichal and Shiloh Whiting.
The FinishLynx Poll: Ranked as high as 16th in the nation, the Lady Razorbacks have fallen to 21st in the latest FinishLynx/NCAA Women’s Cross Country Poll. Ranked 21st in week three, Arkansas fell in the rankings following its performance at the Roy Griak Invitational despite not running a full team and decimating the then eighth-ranked team in the land, Princeton.
FinishLynx Cross Country Poll
|Poll #1||16th||194 pts.|
|Poll #2||19th||148 pts.|
|Poll #3||21st||134 pts.|
|Poll #4||21st||347 pts.|
Redlarczyk Takes the Lead: Redshirt freshman Tiffany Redlarczyk was Arkansas’ top finisher at the Southern Stampede marking the first time she has led a Lady Razorback contingent in her career. Sitting out the 2003 season because of a knee injury, Redlarczyk has returned to Fayetteville in fantastic shape and has looked superb for Arkansas in all three races she has competed in.
Second Fastest 5K: Tiffany Redlarczyk’s 17:44.85 at the Southern Stampede is the second fastest Lady Razorback cross country 5K this season and is just two seconds behind junior Penny Splichal’s performance at the Fayetteville Invitational to open the season.
Top Seven: Tiffany Redlarczyk has good races and bad races, but it seems that she somehow always places among Arkansas’ top five. One of two Lady Razorbacks to participate in all four Arkansas competitions this season, Redlarczyk has been Arkansas’ first across the line once, fifth twice and seventh once.
Joining Arkansas: It took a while for junior Erica Sigmont to get healthy enough to run cross country after breaking her foot at the NCAA Regional Track Championships in 2004, but after spending time in a boot, she is making a full recovery and should be one to focus on at the Chile Pepper. An incredible talent, Sigmont should most certainly be among Arkansas’ top five if she makes a full recovery from her injury.
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.
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. Smith moved up to second on Arkansas’ finishers list at the Southern Stampede at 13th overall in a very good time.
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.
Pack Running Again: Without a true number one runner at the Southern Stampede, the Lady Razorbacks returned to the pack running philosophy and the strategy worked to perfection as Arkansas’ seven runners were all within one minute of each other and finished 10-13-16-19-21-22-30.
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.