FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – No. 9 Arkansas cross country took the team title at the 19th annual Chile Pepper Festival, at Agri Park in Fayetteville, on Saturday. The Hogs scored 47 points to finish ahead of Division II powerhouse No. 1 Abilene Christian (74 points).
Of the 259 collegiate runners, the Razorbacks finished five runners in the top 13, six harriers in the top 24 and seven in the top 30. Of the top 10 SEC finishers, Arkansas boasts seven of the top 10 in today’s race.
“The win is always nice but we competed today like we should have been competing all year,” head coach John McDonnell said. “We always come around this time of year and we seem to be on target. I feel very good about the way our top seven guys ran today, especially our top five. There were some really good runners up at the front.”
While times are always of the essence, McDonnell urged to his runners before the race not to worry about times, but to compete and go for the win. His plan worked out to his liking.
“Cross country is all about winning,” McDonnell said. “It’s a team sport. There is only one winner and everybody is running for second. If you don’t win the team race, you come away empty handed.”
Shawn Forrest was the Hogs’ top finisher in fifth-place. Clocking a 10K time of 29:44.5, Forrest battled with the front pack throughout the race, drifting off ever so slightly towards the end but mustered a strong finish. He was the top SEC finisher and the second-fastest South Central Region runner.
“I am very happy with my race today,” Forrest said. “My last few races haven’t gone as well but today I was optimistic. I love the Chile Pepper meet. I just wanted to put my head in, hang in there and not give up. I wanted to give 100 percent and walk away knowing that.”
Scott MacPherson was second for the Hogs with an eighth-place finish overall and a time of 30:08.3. He was the third SEC runner to cross the line and the third South Central Region finisher. MacPherson bettered his finish from 2006 by 17 spots.
“I would have liked to done a little bit better but I can’t ask for any more from the team,” MacPherson said. “Those guys ran amazing, exactly the way we knew we could do. It was a good showing and it’s what we should have been doing earlier in the year. We are finally getting our stuff together. We came in to the race with confidence and we are leaving with even more.”
Tyler Hill was just a step behind MacPherson with a ninth-place finish and a clocking of 30:12.1. Hill was the fourth SEC runner to finish and the fourth South Central Region runner. A senior running in his fourth Chile Pepper 10K, Hill’s ninth-place finish is the highest he has finished in this race.
“Matt Munoz, Chris Barnicle, they ran great,” McDonnell said. “Tyler Hill and Scott MacPherson ran great, too. The young guys, Lane Boyer and Rio Reina, ran really great races.”
Matt Munoz, running in his first Chile Pepper Festival as a Razorback, was Arkansas’ fourth scorer with a 10K time of 30:16.8. His time was good for a 12th-place finish overall. Chris Barnicle finished 13th with a 10K time of 30:20.1. Arkansas fifth scorer, he bettered his finish from 2006 by 25 places.
Also finishing in the top seven for the Hogs were Lane Boyer and Rio Reina. Running in his first Chile Pepper Festival as a collegian, Boyer was 24th overall with his 10K best of 30:55.0. Reina was the seventh Hog finisher, 30th overall and clocked a time of 31:13.4. His time is a 10K best and he bettered his finish from 2006 by 75 places.
Also competing for Arkansas were Michael Chinchar (43rd; 3143.0), Duncan Phillips (51st; 31:53.1) and Daniel LaCava (90th; 32:34.9).
Shadrack Songok of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, the 2007 NCAA Outdoor 10,000-meter champion, won the men’s race with a time of 29:22.1.
Virginia Tech finished third in the team race with 162 points, Rend Lake College finished fourth with 166 points. Texas A&M rounded out the top five with 202 points.
Next up for the Hogs will be the 2007 SEC Championships in Lexington, Ky., Sat., Oct. 27. McDonnell and the Hogs will be on the hunt for Arkansas’ 34th-straight cross country conference title and 17th-straight SEC cross country title.
For complete results of the 2007 Chile Pepper Festival, visit www.hogwired.com or www.chilepepperfestival.org.
Download: College Men Individual.pdf