The NCAA Championships: The Lady Razorbacks are back at the NCAA Championships on Monday morning, Nov. 19. The meet brings the nation’s top teams to the LaVern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, Ind.
How They Got There: Teams had to qualify for the NCAA Championships by finishing in the top two at their respective regions or by earning one of 13 at-large bids. The Lady Razorbacks were the second-place finisher at the South Central Regional.
Against the Field: Arkansas has faced a wide variety of competition this fall and against the NCAA Championships field is an impressive 9-3. Arkansas’ three losses came to Oregon, Rice and Texas Tech.
Upset at the Regional: The Lady Razorbacks left the finish chute disappointed that they had been upset by then 16th-ranked Rice University. That disappointment didn’t last long as head coach Lance Harter reminded his team that in 1999 Arkansas also finished second at the regional before going on to finish second at the national championship.
Improving on Last Fall: The goal for any program is to improve on last seasons’ performance, but it might be difficult for the Lady’Backs this year. Arkansas finished fifth at the NCAA meet a year ago thanks to a splendid performance despite harsh conditions at the 2006 meet.
The 2006 NCAA Championships: Rain and near freezing temperatures were the forecast in Terre Haute, Ind., a year ago and the NCAA Championship course suffered for it. Every low lying area was ankle deep mud and the high ground didn’t provide much rest. The Lady Razorbacks placed four runners among the field’s top 86 to finish with 286 points. Christine Kalmer was Arkansas’ fifth runner at 117, but lost her shoe 1,000 meters into the 6K race and had to race with one set of spikes.
Third At Regionals: Junior Denise Bargiachi is having a breakout season for the Lady Razorbacks. She has consistently been one of Arkansas’ top competitors and at the NCAA South Central Regional was the Lady Razorbacks’ top finisher at third overall. Bargiachi’s effort made her the first Lady Razorback since Londa Bevins in 2002 to finish among the top three at the South Central.
Top Individual Winning Percentage: It’s hard to gauge a cross country runner’s winning percentage from year-to-year based on the competitions, etc., but you can look at a team in any given season and gleam some insight. That said, Denise Bargiachi’s individual winning percentage this fall is an impressive .952 (797-40). She leads the team with her lofty numbers and has yet to finish worse than 15th overall in any given competition.
All-SEC and all-Region: Denise Bargiachi’s efforts this fall have earned her first-team all-SEC and all region honors. Her first-team all-SEC award is the second first team honor of her career (2006) and the third overall (second team in 2005). Her all-region certificate is also her third.
Two-Time Top Runner: Denise Bargiachi has always been one of Arkansas’ top runners but it wasn’t until this fall’s Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival that Bargiachi had ever led the Lady Razorbacks across the finish. In that race she was eighth overall. She repeated the task at the South Central Regional by taking third overall and leading the Lady Razorbacks for the second time.
The National Poll: The Lady Razorbacks began the 2007 season ranked fourth in the nation and have dropped from that lofty position, but still remain among the nation’s elite teams. On the Nov. 13 poll, Arkansas is 17th in the country with 183 points.
Top Freshman: Jillian Rosen has been a pleasant surprise to the Lady Razorback coaching staff this fall. The Dallas, Texas, native was looked at as a solid runner that in tine would flourish, but her emergence as a true freshman has the Lady Razorbacks smiling. Rosen has been one of Arkansas’ top runners the entire season and has yet to finish outside Arkansas’ top five.
SEC Freshman of the Year: For her efforts this fall and especially for her performance at the SEC Championships, Jillian Rosen was named the Southeastern Conference’s Freshman of the Year. Rosen has been among Arkansas top three runners in five of six competitions this fall and a top five runner in all six.
Third in Three Years: Jillian Rosen’s SEC Freshman of the Year honor makes her the third Lady Razorback in as many years and fourth overall to win the honor. Rosen was preceded by Dani Parry (2006), Christine Kalmer (2005) and Penny Splichal (2001).
SEC Athlete of the Week: For her part in Arkansas’ second-place finish at the Bill Dellinger Invitational, Jillian Rosen was named the Southeastern Conference’s Female Freshman of the Week. Rosen finished second among Lady Razorback runners with a time of 20:38 for 6,000 meters. Her time was tied for the 30th best in Lady Razorback history, an accomplished feat when you consider the lineage of Arkansas cross country and the fact that it was her first ever 6K.
Top Lady’Back: For the past two seasons Christine Kalmer has been one of Arkansas’ best runners, a role she is continuing through her third year. Kalmer has been one of Arkansas’ top runners throughout the season and was its top finisher at the SEC Championships and second runner at the regional.
SEC Runner Up: Christine Kalmer wanted to improve upon her finishes at the SEC Championships. A lofty goal for someone who finished fifth as a freshman and third as a sophomore. Was she able to do it? Second as a junior.
Last Year: At the 2006 NCAA Cross Country Championships Christine Kalmer got off to a fantastic start and was running well until she was stepped on at about the 1,000-meter mark. Running amongst the pack, Kalmer’s heel was stepped on removing the back of her spike. After several strides, Kalmer was forced to make a decision which ended up with the removal of her shoe and to continue racing. For roughly 5,000 of the 6,000-meter race, Kalmer raced with just one shoe and still managed to finish 117th overall.
SEC Champions: The Lady Razorbacks won their second consecutive and 12th overall Southeastern Conference Championship in their last competition two weeks ago. Arkansas did so in convincing fashion as they scored 39 points to easily outdistance the field in Lexington, Ky. Three Lady Razorbacks earned first-team all-SEC honors while a fourth took second-team honors. Two Lady Razorbacks were named to the newly formed all-freshman team.
Fourth Despite a Virus: Dacia Barr was determined to run at the NCAA South Central Regional. In just her second race this fall, Barr finished fourth among the Lady Razorbacks and 22nd overall. The impressive portion of the story is that she was recovering from a virus when she did it. Barr had been suffering from the ailment for most of the week leading up to the regional championship.
Returning to the Lineup: Dacia Barr missed most of the cross country season recovering from knee surgery which she had over the summer. In the grand scheme, the surgery was minor, but still sidelined her until the SEC meet where she made her debut with a 16th-place finish.
SEC Coach of the Year: For the 12th time in his illustrious career at Arkansas, head coach Lance Harter was named the Southeastern Conference’s Coach of the Year. It is Harter’s second consecutive award and 12th in 17 years as a member of the SEC.
SEC all-Freshman Team: In the inaugural SEC all-Freshman Team, the Lady Razorbacks placed both their first-year runners on the seven-member team. Jillian Rosen was the top freshman at the SEC Championships and teammate Catherine White finished 23rd overall to also earn a spot.
SEC Freshman of the Week: Fresh off her victory at the Fayetteville Invitational, Catherine White was named the SEC Freshman of the Week by the league office on Tuesday. White won her first collegiate competition at the Fayetteville Invitational and takes her first freshman of the week honor.