FAYETTEVILLE – In the wake of its upset win at the Bill Dellinger Invitational in Eugene, Ore., last weekend the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback cross country team moved from eighth to fourth in the latest women’s cross country poll administered by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association on Tuesday.
Arkansas opened the season ranked eighth in the preseason poll, then maintained its spot in the first poll of the season released on Sept. 25.
“Obviously we raised some attention nationally in Oregon,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “We were able to beat BYU and Duke and had a great day. These kids handled the challenge well and now the focus is to stay where we are. We’ll have to see how well we can handle the attention and the expectations that this brings.”
Arkansas’ ranking is its highest since the final poll of the 1999 season when it stood at third heading into the 1999 NCAA Championships. On that squad were the likes of 15-time all-American and two-time NCAA Champion Amy Yoder-Begley, 11-time all-American Jessica Dailey, nine-time all-American Tracy Robertson, five-time all-American Lilli Kleinmann and four-time all-American Christin Wurth. That squad, which was loaded in experience and senior leadership, finished as the NCAA runner-up, SEC Champions and NCAA South Central Regional Champion.
The 2006 Lady Razorbacks are quite the opposite of their predecessors from seven years ago. This team is packed with youth and has been led by seven freshmen and sophomores. Sophomores Christine Kalmer, Dacia Barr, Denise Bargiachi and Kelly Vrshek along with newcomers Danielle Parry, Brooke Upshaw and Miranda Walker have each traded off for Arkansas’ scoring five this season. Where the Lady Razorbacks make their biggest impact though is in their collective power as a group. While it helps to place runners in the top 10 at any race, the characteristic about this squad that has Arkansas’ coaches so excited is that they run together. At the Bill Dellinger Invitational, the Lady Razorbacks had just 15 seconds between their first and fifth-place runners and 17 seconds between one and six.
The Lady Razorbacks also maintained their number one ranking in the South Central Region for the second consecutive week, ahead of Baylor, Texas A&M, Rice and TCU.
For more information about Lady Razorback cross country or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.