FAYETTEVILLE — Sophomore Christine Kalmer and the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback cross country team opened the 2006 season with a perfect score of 15 at the Fayetteville Invitational at the Agri Park Cross Country Course on Friday night.
Running as a pack throughout the 4,000-meter race, Kalmer was a step in front of five Lady Razorbacks who all crossed the finish in 13:44 or 13:45. Following Kalmer across the line were sophomore Dacia Barr, freshmen Brooke Upshaw, Danielle Parry and Miranda Walker, and sophomore Denise Bargiachi. Sophomore Kelly Vrshek was seventh in the race, seven seconds behind the leaders.
“We came in with an idea that we would run as a pack and see what we can do,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “These young ladies executed that plan to perfection and I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a group of women run that well together. Usually we are happy as coaches if we can get less than 20 seconds between our first and fifth runner, but to have eight seconds between one and seven is really something special.”
Not to be overlooked, Arkansas runners not only took the top seven spots but nine of the top 10 with Caroline Peyton and Erin Gray finishing ninth and 10th.
The Lady Razorbacks were well ahead of their competition, Missouri State and Missouri Southern who scored 55 and 72 points, respectively. Missouri State was credited with finishers 8-9-11-13-14, when in fact their squad crossed the line 8-11-17-19-20, but Arkansas’ deep and talented runners past seventh place could not factor into the team scoring.
Arkansas’ victory is its 17th consecutive season opening victory dating back to 1989 and the seventh time it has opened with a win at the Fayetteville Invitational. Arkansas’ win is also the third time in four years it has scored a perfect score of 15.
The Lady Razorbacks continue their season next weekend when they travel to the Aztec Invitational at Balboa Park in San Diego, Calif. For more information about Lady Razorback cross country or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to LADYBACKS.COM.