WACO, Texas – Junior Eric Fernandez ran to a second-place individual finish Saturday at the 2011 NCAA South Central Regional. Collectively, the No. 15 University of Arkansas men’s cross country team finished third overall. Fernandez navigated the 10K course at the Cottonwood Creek Golf Course in Waco, Texas, in a time of 30:18.0. Without securing an automatic berth into the NCAA Championship meet, the Razorbacks will now await the release of at-large selections.
"We just didn’t execute our plan," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "Especially with the conditions out here today, there were a lot of switches with the wind. You can’t let any team gap you and that’s exactly what happened. We let Texas and Texas A&M gap us after 3K and then it was time to catch up but you can’t in these windy conditions. The race was won at that point. Hats off to them for their races today but we feel we’re a much better team than what we showed today."
For the fifth time in as many races this season, Fernandez was Arkansas’ top finisher. The Razorbacks’ second runner in the lineup was Chuol Dey who finished in 12th place with a time of 31:02.6. The team’s third finisher was Duncan Phillips who crossed the line in 31:16.5, good for 17th-place overall.
Arkansas’ top-five scoring lineup was rounded out by Layne Nixon and Rick Elliott, respectively. Nixon turned in a time of 31:23.2 and finished in 18th place, while Elliott was 20th overall with a time of 31:30.9. The remaining Razorbacks on the course were Patrick Rono (33rd place, 32:00.2) and Aaron Hamilton (54th, 32:51.3).
Five of the team’s seven runners earned All-South Central Region honors Saturday. Fernandez, Dey, Phillips, Nixon and Elliott were all recognized for their respective efforts at the regional meet. Henry Lelei of Texas A&M won the individual title Saturday. Texas and Texas A&M secured the NCAA automatic bids with a respective 1-2 finish.
The 13 at-large teams will be announced Sunday, no later than 6 p.m. (CT). For more information regarding Razorback cross country or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.