Regional Champions: After missing out on the NCAA South Central Regional title for two seasons, the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback cross country team reclaimed the regional championship at the Cottonwood Creek Golf Course in Waco, Texas. Along the way, the Lady Razorbacks placed six runners in the top19 to earn all-region honors and barely edged #20 Baylor by a single point in what was the closest regional meet in history.
The Pack Philosophy Wins: Arkansas has run as a pack all season and at its best had just 20 seconds between its first and last runner. At the NCAA South Central Regional, it was that pack philosophy that allowed it to win the championship. With a spread of just 41 seconds between Penny Splichal (1) and Christine Kalmer (5), the Lady Razorbacks were able to overcome Baylor’s sweep of the top two spots in the race and their 1:21 spread between their first and fifth-place runners.
Stepping Up at the End: Senior Penny Splichal has had an interesting career, but her performances at the SEC Championships and now at the NCAA South Central Regional are encouraging to say the least. Splichal, the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2001 got off to a tremendous start, faltering a little in the middle, but with seventh and fifth-place finishes at the SEC and Regional meet is coming on strong in the end. Splichal’s runs at the SEC and Regional Championships placed her second and first among Lady Razorback runners.
All-SEC and All-Region: Thanks to her top seven finishes at both the SEC and South Central Regional, Penny Splichal took honors at both meets for just the second time in her career. The honors are a tremendous capstone to her career that began with a bang and the same honors in 2001.
Not Far Off: Penny Splichal’s SEC Championship time of 20:06.83 is incredibly fast, but not her fastest. At the 2001 SEC Championships, she finished that 6K race in 19:49.66, the third fastest time in Lady Razorback history.
The NCAA Championships: The Lady Razorbacks are making their 23rd consecutive appearance at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., on Monday afternoon. This season, Arkansas brings a lineup full of veteran leadership and young talent as they seek to improve on their 16th-place finish from a year ago.
Last Season at the NCAA Championships: It was a tough meet for the Lady Razorbacks in 2004, but not bad by Arkansas standards. Entering the race as the 19th-best team in the country according to the polls, Arkansas picked up a great race from then junior Maureen Scott and senior Alison Rush to lead it to a 16th-place finish with 400 points.
13th Regional Title: Arkansas’ victory in Waco, Texas, is its 13th NCAA South Central Regional / District title over the past 22 seasons. No other school in the South Central Region can even make a claim to be close to Arkansas’ success.
Arkansas’ Freshman Leader: Christine Kalmer was Arkansas’ top finisher at the SEC Championships when she crossed the finish line in fifth place overall. She was the highest finishing freshman and ran a career best for 6,000 meters with her time of 19:59.56. She has been Arkansas’ top runner in four of six races this season and has put up some very impressive times along the way.
Only the Fourth: Christine Kalmer’s SEC Championship time of 19:59.56 makes her just the fourth Lady Razorback in school history to break the 20-minute marker for 6,000 meters. Only former Lady’Backs Andreina Byrd and Christin Wurth and current teammate Penny Splichal had achieved the task before.
All-SEC: By virtue of her fifth-place finish at the SEC meet, Christine Kalmer earned her first first-team all-SEC honor. She now has a chance to become one of an elite group of runners to claim four such honors in her career.
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.
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. She improved on that race with her 19:59.56 at the SEC Championships making Kalmer the fourth fastest Lady Razorback in Arkansas 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 placing, 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. Since then, Arkansas has been on a yo-yo as it has moved all the way up to 10th and as far down as 19th before settling in to 16th in the sixth and final poll of the 2005 season.
|Arkansas in the Poll|
|Preseason||17th, 180 pts.||1st|
|Week One||13th, 234 pts.||1st|
|Week Two||10th, 257 pts.||1st|
|Week Three||12th, 241 pts.||1st|
|Week Four||17th, 181 pts.||1st|
|Week Five||19th, 171 pts.||1st|
|Week Six||16th, 191 pts.||1st|
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 all season, followed by Baylor and Rice.
Her Best Race: Senior Jessie Gordon has had some wonderful moments on the cross country course including three 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 at the Notre Dame Invite 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 SEC Championships when she ran another personal best, this time over 6,000 meters. Gordon finished the Fort Jackson Military Base course in 20:42.28, nearly 22 seconds better than her 2005 Chile Pepper time of 21:04 and another 11 seconds ahead of her best heading into the 2005 season of 21:15 which she ran at the 2004 NCAA South Central Regional.
Another Close One: Had it not been for the 2004 SEC Women’s Cross Country Championship, the 2005 meet would have been the closest in SEC history. Arkansas placed seven runners among the top 20 and five in the top 18, but came up just short against the Tennessee Lady Vols (48-51). Freshman Christine Kalmer led the charge with a fifth-place overall finish followed by Penny Splichal, Laura Jakosky and Denise Bargiachi who each earned all-SEC honors.
Five Points: Over the past two seasons the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks have missed out on their 11th conference cross country title by a combined five points. In 2004 it was a two-point margin at Agri Park in Fayetteville and 2005 saw a three-point deficit for the Lady Razorbacks at Fort Jackson.
A Weekend Off: After working her way into the travel squad this fall, Arkansas head coach Lance Harter decided to give freshman Denise Bargiachi the weekend off at the NCAA South Central Regional to prepare her for the NCAA Championships. The time off could help the freshman improve upon her fourth and fifth-place finishes among Lady Razorback runners.
Bargiachi Continues at Four: After not running attached in Arkansas’ first competition of the season, Denise Bargiachi has made her presence felt. She has consistently been among Arkansas’ top seven and for the past two races has been its fourth runner.
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.
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.
Steady as they Come: Senior Laura Jakosky doesn’t get a lot of the headlines, but she is quite possibly the most valuable member of the Arkansas roster. Despite graduating last spring, she returned to school this fall to race for the Lady Razorbacks and in doing so has made Arkansas a much more formidable team. She can always be counted on to be among Arkansas’ top three runners and has recorded some excellent times over the past three years.
Arkansas’ Number Three: Laura Jakosky was Arkansas’ third runner at the SEC Championships, a place that she has been since the beginning of the 2004 season. Running an excellent time at the SEC meet, a career best 20:13.52, Jakosky has been counted on time and again to put the Lady’Backs in position to win.
Seniors Step Up: While Penny Splichal was Arkansas’ top runner at the NCAA Regional meet, Laura Jakosky was a solid number two, improving on her third-place runs from the past few races. It was the 1-2 punch of the senior pair that led the Lady Razorbacks to the regional crown.
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.
Second Win of the Season: Arkansas’ victory at the NCAA South Central Regional was its second of the season and eclipses the Lady Razorback total of 2004 and matches their total from 2003. The last time Arkansas won more than two meets in a year was 2001 when it took four titles.
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 five races.
An Anomaly at SEC: There is no denying it; Dacia Barr had a bad race at the SEC Championships. It happens, but the true test of a solid runner is how they respond to that and in Barr’s case, she came back with a vengeance. At the NCAA Regional meets, Barr finished as Arkansas’ third runner and 10th overall.
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 NCAA Regional Championships.
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.
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.