ATHENS, Ga. – Back in Athens for the Southeastern Conference Cross Country Championships for the first time since its inaugural season (1991), the 27th-ranked Arkansas men’s country team raced to its eighth-consecutive league title led by top Razorback Alex George.
Arkansas defended their conference crown, winning by a 40-point margin over runner-up Alabama.
“I feel real happy for our guys,” head coach Chris Bucknam said. “They did just such a phenomenal job. To see them gel today and have confidence in their abilities, I’m just so proud of them.”
Cross Country Conference Dominance
Prior to Arkansas’ arrival in the SEC the Razorbacks gained national repute as members of the Southwestern Conference, amassing 25 league titles in record time under the guidance of John McDonnell. The Razorbacks tradition of excellence continued through the conference transition with their aforementioned 2017 title marking the 50th cross country league victory in program history.
Complete Team Effort
Head coach Chris Bucknam said ahead of the meet that his team’s main objective was to win and that it would require all hands on deck to do so. Racing on the most physically challenging course of the season, Bucknam’s squad rallied to rise to task. All-American seniors Alex George and Jack Bruce led the charge, placing fourth and sixth, respectively, in the loaded competition.
Junior Cameron Griffith also earned a place inside the top-10, running a personal best of 23 minutes, 53.50 seconds over the hilly 8K terrain.
Arkansas’ fourth finisher was an unexpected one for those unfamiliar with the program as freshman Matt Young emerged as the best-underclassman performer of the meet, placing 11th overall to solidify the Razorbacks title claim. His performance earned him All-SEC recognition – a feat made greater due to it being his first official race as a Razorback.
Keller, Texas native Austen Dalquist rounded out Arkansas’ top five, crossing the finish line as the 13th-fastest runner of the day.
In total, Arkansas departed Athens with its 25th SEC cross country trophy and five All-SEC performers including first team selections: Alex George (fourth), Jack Bruce (sixth) and Cameron Griffith (seventh) and two second team selections: Matt Young (11th) and Austen Dalquist (13th).
Named the 2014 SEC Freshman Runner of the Year and 2016 SEC Runner of the Year during his time as a Hog, George’s 2017 performance completed his All-SEC perfect streak.
Since 1935 SEC Championship Totals
Tennessee (25), Arkansas (25), Georgia Tech (10), Auburn (6), Mississippi State (5), Kentucky (4), Florida (3), Alabama (3)
Since 1991 SEC Championship Totals
Arkansas (25), Alabama (2)
A one-hour championships highlight show will also be available to watch on the SEC Network Sunday, Nov. 5 at 11 a.m. CT.
Arkansas’ postseason push will continue in two weeks in College Station, Texas for the NCAA South Central Regional Championships Friday, Nov. 10.
Team Results (Top Five)
1. No. 27 Arkansas, 41 (4-6-7-11-13)
2. Alabama, 81 (1-2-3-36-39)
3. No. 16 Ole Miss, 82 (8-14-15-18-27)
4. Kentucky, 110 (5-20-22-28-35)
5. Tennessee, 125 (10-19-25-30-41)
Arkansas Results (Overall)
4. Alex George – 23:34.30
6. Jack Bruce – 23:51.70
7. Cameron Griffith – 23:53.50
11. Matt Young – 24:10.80
13. Austen Dalquist – 24:16.20
16. Ethan Moehn – 24:23.10
24. Kyle Levermore – 24:37.70
35. Andrew Ronoh – 24:57.10
51. Colin O’Mara – 25:16.60
86. Preston Cates – 26:05.70
2017 Cross Country Schedule
Fri, Sept. 1 – Cowboy Preview (Stillwater, Okla.) 1st of 4
Fri, Sept. 15 – Iona College Meet of Champions (New York, N.Y.) 2nd of 11
Sat, Sept. 30 – Chile Pepper Festival (Agri Park) 1st of 40
Sat, Oct. 14 – Pre-Nationals (Louisville, Ky.) 9th of 40
Fri, Oct. 27 – SEC Championship (Athens, Ga.) 1st of 13
Fri, Nov. 10 – NCAA South Central Regional (College Station, Texas)
Sat, Nov. 18 – NCAA Championship (Louisville, Ky.)
*italicized meet denotes completion.
For more information on Arkansas track and field including in-meet updates, follow @RazorbackTF on Twitter.