SEC Champions Again: The University of Arkansas Lady Razorback 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.
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.
Small Squad: The NCAA Regional Championships call for a smaller squad than what Arkansas head coach Lance Harter has been accustomed to this fall. He must shave his competitive roster down to seven for the regional meet after having to knock it down from 13 to 10 before the SEC Championships.
Defending Champions: The Lady Razorbacks enter the 2006 NCAA South Central Regional not just as the number four team in the nation, but also as the defending regional champion. Last fall, Arkansas picked up a one-point victory over Baylor by finishing 5-8-9-10-13 for 45 points to Baylor’s 1-2-11-12-20 and 46. Penny Splichal was Arkansas’ top runner and six Lady Razorbacks earned all-region honors at the meet.
Regional Success: Arkansas has a tradition of success at the NCAA Regional/District Championships. Since 1982, the first year for the regional format, Arkansas has finished among its regional top three in every season and has won 13 titles. The Lady’Backs have been among the league’s top two 20 times and finished third just four times in 24 races.
The Gateway: The NCAA Regional Championships are the gateway to the NCAA meet. In order for teams to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships, they must finish among the top two in their region. There are at-large selections, but only three and it is easier to earn your way.
The National Poll: Five weeks into the 2006 season and the Lady Razorbacks continue to be ranked fourth in the nation. Starting out what seemed to be an over ranked eighth, Arkansas has lived up to its billing by going undefeated through the conference championships. The Lady’Backs have been ranked #4 since week two.
Regional Rankings: Arkansas has led the South Central Regional Rankings since the preseason and week five is no exception. Baylor and Texas A&M rank two and three on the regional list, but neither is ranked nationally.
Still Undefeated: Five meets into the 2006 season and the Lady Razorbacks continue to remain undefeated this fall with a 77-0-0 record. The last time Arkansas took an undefeated record into the regional championships was 1993 where it also won the then district crown. Arkansas has been undefeated going into regionals only three times and each led to a NCAA runner-up performance.
Interchangeable Parts: The catch phrase for Lance Harter when discussing his Lady Razorbacks is that his team has interchangeable parts. What he means by that is that any runner could lead on any given day and the results this season prove it. In five races, three Lady Razorbacks have been the front runner and Arkansas’ order of finish has been different each time. In fact, six different Lady’Backs have finished among Arkansas’ top five.
The Six: The six Lady Razorbacks that have factored into the scoring this fall are sophomores Dacia Barr, Denise Bargiachi and Christine Kalmer and freshmen Dani Parry, Brooke Upshaw and Miranda Walker.
Top Nine: When one factors in the displacement runners, the Lady Razorbacks go to nine deep. Sophomores Jennifer Harper and Kelly Vrshek and redshirt freshman Erin Gray have each been a part of Arkansas’ scoring seven this fall.
Barr and Parry: We’ve talked about Brooke Upshaw’s impressive run at the SEC Championships, but did you know that sophomore Dacia Barr and freshman Dani Parry are the only two Lady’Backs aside from Upshaw that have been a scorer in every Arkansas race? Barr has finished second twice, third, fourth and fifth; while Parry has had finishes at one, three, two at four and five.
Highest Since: Arkansas’ fourth-place ranking is the highest it has been since the 1999 season when they spent the entire season ranked among the nation’s top three. That season, Arkansas finished as the NCAA runner-up.
What 1999 Had: Arkansas’ 1999 squad was composed of senior leadership, youth and determination. Leading the way was 15-time all-American Amy Yoder Begley with help from 12-time all-American Jessica Dailey, nine-time all-American Tracy Robertson, five-time all-American Lilli Kleinmann and four-time all-American Christin Wurth.
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.
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.