TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Freshman Jillian Rosen used a tremendous effort over the final third of the race to lead the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback cross country team to a 13th-place finish at the 2007 NCAA Women’s Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind.
Rosen came from as far back as 92nd to finish 56th overall and become Arkansas’ second freshman in as many years to lead the Lady Razorbacks across the finish at the NCAA meet. Her raw finish of 56th places her on the bubble for all-America status which takes the top 35 finishers overall as well as the top 35 American finishers. Her time of 21:15 was 14 seconds ahead of Arkansas’ top finisher last year.
“Overall, we’ve had to battle one setback after another all year,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “From people leaving, surgery, deaths in the family and food poisoning, it’s been one thing or another. Considering all of that I was somewhat surprised that we were 13th.”
The Lady Razorbacks entered the NCAA meet ranked 16th in the nation according to the United States Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association. Arkansas was able to improve on that ranking, but had aspirations of being one of the top four teams and picking up an NCAA trophy.
Arkansas’ top five finishers were Rosen, Christine Kalmer (81st, 21:26), Miranda Walker (120th, 21:43), Denise Bargiachi (128th, 21:44) and Dacia Barr (159th, 21:59). Catherine White (199th, 22:24) and Dani Parry (220th, 22:42) completed the Arkansas team.
“Jillian was exceptional,” Harter said. “Cross country is certainly not her forte and I was elated with the way she ran. Denise (Bargiachi) had a valiant effort considering that she was sick just two days ago and Christine (Kalmer) hurt her back around the 2k mark and had to gut her way through the rest of the race.”
The Lady Razorbacks set up quickly with Kalmer taking the lead. As the team crested over the first hill, Arkansas had set itself up for a fantastic race. At the first check point Kalmer was eighth overall with the rest of the Arkansas team grouped in a huge pack.
As the runners reached the long back straight, the packs began to spread out and several runners made bold moves to get themselves into position. Arkansas appeared to have each of its runners in the top 100 around the 2K mark and the Lady’Backs were announced to be unofficially fifth in the team scoring.
By the 4,000-meter marker, Arkansas’ status had fallen to 16th overall as several Lady’Backs struggled along the back section of the course. Kalmer and Rosen continued to lead the Lady’Backs with Walker working her way up the field.
The final 1,000 meters of the race witnessed classic Arkansas cross country strategy as Lady Razorbacks picked off struggling runners. Those key places allowed Arkansas to improve its team score and finish with 406 points. Stanford won its third straight NCAA team championship with a score of 145. Oregon finished second with 177 followed by Florida State (236), Arizona State (251) and Michigan St. (321).
For more information about Lady Razorback cross country or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.