JOPLIN, Mo. – Led by redshirt freshman Tiffany Redlarczyk, the 18th-ranked University of Arkansas Lady Razorback cross country team finished second at the Southern Stampede in Joplin, Mo., on Saturday morning despite holding out most of its top runners.
Finishing with 79 points, the Lady Razorbacks were just one point behind the winner Oklahoma (78) and well ahead of regionally-ranked Southwest Missouri State (119).
“What a great race,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “Our young ones really came through today. The Oklahoma coach came up to me and congratulated us on our performance and told me that he needed everything he had to beat out second team today. I think that speaks volumes about where we are at. Oklahoma is going to surprise some people this year.”
Redlarczyk was Arkansas’ top finisher at 10th overall and led four Lady Razorbacks who all finished in the top 20. She was trailed by sophomore Kristina Smith (13th), junior Jessie Gordon (16th) and freshman Beth Fahey (19th). Laura Kerr and Sarah Saffa rounded out Arkansas’ participation at the meet with 21st and 23rd-place finishes.
“What I was pleased with was the way we finished,” Harter said. “We were able to catch some people down the stretch which put us in the hunt for the team title.”
For the Lady Razorbacks there were some breakthroughs, like Fahey’s 19th-place finish, but for the most part Arkansas’ team did exactly what it has done through two meets this season. Redlarczyk entered the 2004 season as a bit of a wild card after knee surgery ended her true freshman year before it began, but so far this year she has been solid with a high placing of sixth at the Fayetteville Invite and finishing as Arkansas’ seventh runner at the Indiana State Invitational. Smith was Arkansas’ freshman phenom in 2003 and looks to be just as good in 2004. She has been Arkansas’ number three runner in each of its two meets and showed no signs of fatigue from back-to-back-to-back races.
Coming through to help the Lady’Back procure their second-place finish were Gordon and Fahey who had tremendous runs. Gordon was a regular on Arkansas’ travel squad as a true freshman, then hit a small sophomore slump, but her performance in Joplin is certainly a step back to her days of two years ago. Fahey donned the Arkansas cardinal and white a week ago at the Indiana State Invite, finishing 48th overall and outside of Arkansas’ top seven, but her run on Saturday proved that she is ready for competition at the highest levels.
The Lady Razorbacks are back in action next Saturday when they travel to the land of 1,000 lakes to participate in a loaded field at the University of Minnesota hosted Griak Invitational. For more information about Lady Razorback cross country or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.