FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas Lady Razorback cross country team was picked to finish second in the Southeastern Conference by the league’s coaches in the annual preseason coaches’ poll on Monday afternoon.
The Lady Razorbacks finished third at the SEC meet a year ago breaking a five-year stranglehold on the top position. Tennessee won the league title and has been picked to finish on top again in 2004.
“I think that this year’s poll is a direct reflection of what happened at the SEC meet a year ago,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “Tennessee has a veteran team returning and is very capable of winning the title.”
Arkansas’ second-place projection is the first time since the 1997 preseason poll that the Lady Razorbacks were not chosen to lead the conference. That year it was Florida who ranked ahead of Arkansas. The Lady Razorbacks took three of the 10 first-place votes with Tennessee earning five and Georgia two. Arkansas tallied 90 points overall, just behind Tennessee’s 94 and ahead of Georgia’s 85.
The Lady Razorbacks enter the 2004 season with a team that learned a lot last season. After finishing third at the conference meet, there was a resounding desire to improve which led to an off-season commitment by the team that was unparalleled. Returning in some of the conditions in recent memory, the Lady Razorbacks believe that they can change their position from a year ago.
“If our workouts so far are any indication of what we can be like later in the year then we could be very good,” Harter said. “There is a huge difference between this year and last year. The team has made a commitment to be better and that has shown throughout the past week.”
The Lady Razorbacks begin their 2004 season on Friday, Sept. 3, when they host the Fayetteville Invitational at the Agri Park Cross Country Course. The women’s race begins at 6 p.m. with the men starting at 6:30.
SEC Preseason Coaches’ Poll