FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas Lady Razorback cross country team returns nearly its entire squad for the fall season and now has a schedule to prepare for with the release of its 2005 fall lineup on Saturday.
“We’ve changed things up from last year,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “Starting at the Chile Pepper our schedule is the same, but leading up to it we’ve decided to go to San Diego and Notre Dame. I feel that these competitions give us a better chance to see the nation’s top teams and prepare us for the NCAA Championships.”
Seven events are on Arkansas’ docket, beginning with the Fayetteville 5,000 on Sept. 9. Usually a small meet with a few teams, the home event has been the kickoff to Arkansas’ cross country season for each of the past five seasons. The race is to be held on Arkansas’ home course at Agri Park which will be shortened for the opening race.
The Lady Razorbacks spend two of the next three weekends on the road with the major players traveling to San Diego, Calif., on Sept. 17 to participate in the Aztek Invitational. The San Diego State hosted meet should allow the Lady Razorbacks to face some of the top competitors on the national scene from the west coast as they ultimately prepare for the NCAA Championships.
After a weekend off, Arkansas travels to South Bend, Ind., to compete at the Notre Dame Invitational where many of the nation’s top schools plan to attend. Last season the Lady’Backs went to the Griak Invitational on the same weekend and took on eight of the nation’s top 25 teams where the 16th-ranked Lady Razorbacks finished fifth on way to knocking off the eighth-ranked team in the country.
Another weekend off gives Arkansas the necessary break it needs to shine at home at the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival on Oct. 15. One of the best cross country events in the southern part of the country, the Chile Pepper brings teams from all over the country to Agri Park’s rolling hills. Some of the teams in attendance in 2004 included locals like Central Arkansas and Arkansas Tech to as far reaching as Boise State and Central Florida.
The Chile Pepper serves as Arkansas’ final tune up to the Southeastern Conference Championships where the Lady’Backs hope to win their 11th conference cross country crown. The runner-up in 2004, Arkansas was just two points behind the winners and hopes to avenge their home loss with a victory in Baton Rouge, La., Oct. 29.
Following another break, Arkansas’ harriers return to the course at the NCAA South Central Regional in Waco, Texas, Nov. 12. The Lady Razorbacks were again the second-place squad in 2004 and look to finish amongst the top two again to earn themselves a return trip to the NCAA Championships.
The 2005 cross country season concludes on Nov. 21, when Indiana State hosts the NCAA Cross Country Championships for the second consecutive season. The Lady Razorbacks ran well at the 2004 meet, finishing 16th, but hope they can improve on that showing with a veteran squad that knows the terrain.
The Lady Razorbacks begin their fall training in late August in preparation for another title run. For more information about Lady Razorback cross country or about Arkansas women’s athletics, visit www.ladybacks.com.