PALO ALTO, Calif. – Senior Arkansas Razorback Scott MacPherson was the top finisher for the Hogs as they earned a third-place finish at the Stanford Invitational on Saturday.
"I think we took a positive step forward today," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "I’m really pleased with a number of individuals, particularly Scott MacPherson, Lane Boyer and Eric Fernandez. They all had outstanding top-20 finishes. I think Alex (McClary) had one of the best cross country races in his career and was our fourth runner."
No. 22 Arkansas, the lone SEC school in the race, scored 103 points for the bronze finish. The hosting No. 11 Stanford Cardinal won the team title with 39 points and No. 19 California earned runner-up honors with 87 points.
"I think this was the right kind of meet on the right kind of course for us," Bucknam said. "The competition was outstanding especially with Stanford and California. I really thought we were in second place with 2,000 meters to go. We let that slip away from us but that’s reflective of where we are in our training. We have to be patient; we still have three weeks before Chile Pepper. I expect to see a much stronger effort for the last 2-3K at Chile Pepper than I did here today. We shook off some cobs webs today and we still have a lot of work to do before the SEC Championships. It was good to get away with the team and spend time together. I think we really grew as a team in that respect."
MacPherson was the top finisher for the Razorbacks with a fourth-place finish overall. He clocked an 8,000-meter time of 24:23. He paced two of his teammates to top-20 finishes (Lane Boyer and Eric Fernandez) and three of his teammates to top-35 finishes (Alex McClary).
"I felt really good and very relaxed," MacPherson said. "I’m pretty happy with this first race of the season. It was fun to come out here to a different course to race on and different teams to race against."
Boyer was the second Hog to cross the line and finished 10th overall. He clocked an 8K time of 24:40. Boyer was the top sophomore finisher overall.
Fernandez, in just his second race as a Razorback, finished 18th overall and third overall among all freshmen competitors. In his first 8K collegiate race, he recorded a time of 25:00.
In arguably his best cross country race of his career, 800-meter specialist Alex McClary finished 32nd overall and was Arkansas’ fourth runner to cross the finish line. He clocked a time of 25:33.
In 45th place, Duncan Phillips was the Hogs’ fifth scorer. In his first race of the 2008 season, he ran an 8K time of 25:48.
Also competing for Arkansas were freshman Rick Elliott (72nd, 26:12), junior Rio Reina (101st, 26:36), sophomore Michael Chinchar (117th, 26:50) and junior Daniel LaCava (125th, 26:58).
"I think the young guys got a good taste of what collegiate cross country is all about," MacPherson said. "We didn’t run as well as we wanted to but this was a great opportunity to come out here and run with some of these national-caliber teams. I think they younger guys learned a lot and they can approach the rest of the season with a better perspective."
Next up for the Razorbacks will be the Chile Pepper Festival, in Fayetteville, Sat., Oct. 18. For more details on Arkansas men’s cross country, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.