FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas Lady Razorback cross country team was chosen by the Southeastern Conference coaches to win the league championship it was announced by the conference office on Monday.
In its annual poll of the conference coaches, Arkansas picked up seven of 12 first-place votes and 117 points to just edge three-time defending champion Tennessee who received the remaining five first-place votes and 114 points. Georgia was a distant third with 99 points.
“I’m a little surprised that we are ranked first,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “Tennessee returns its entire squad and Georgia should be very good. I think that the coaches in the league must have really watched the development of our younger athletes through the cross country, indoor and outdoor track seasons and feel that we are the team to beat. Despite what I think, it truly is an honor to be picked by our peers as the preseason favorite.”
The Lady Razorbacks have been the most successful team in Southeastern Conference cross country history with 10 titles, but the Tennessee Lady Volunteers have had Arkansas’ number over the past three seasons. Picking up a convincing win in 2003, the Lady Vols have edged Arkansas by a grand total of five points over the past two years with the 2004 difference of two points being the closest in SEC history. Despite the Lady Vols run, Arkansas’ championship total is still twice that of the Tennessee who is the second most successful team in league history.
Arkansas brings a young but experienced team to the cross country course this fall with one senior, three juniors, five sophomores and five freshmen. Leading that lineup is the defending SEC Freshman of the Year, sophomore Christine Kalmer and a corp. group of underclassmen that were staples on the Lady Razorback travel squad in 2005. Along with Kalmer, Arkansas looks to all-SEC second-team performer Denise Bargiachi, and all-South Central regional athletes Kelly Vrshek and Dacia Barr to lead a strong freshmen class this fall.
To determine the points for the preseason poll, coaches were asked to give their predicted order of finish for the SEC Championships without voting on their own squad. Those predictions were then awarded points on an 11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis and compiled to determine the final poll.
For more information about Lady Razorback cross country or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to LADYBACKS.COM
|2006 SEC Cross Country Preseason Coaches’ Poll|