TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Led by junior Maureen Scott, the 19th-ranked University of Arkansas Lady Razorbacks battled boggy conditions in true cross country fashion to finish 16th overall at the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., on Monday morning.
Scott completed the 6,000-meter course in 21:47 for an 84th-place overall finish and pick up 56 points toward the Lady’Backs team score of 400 points. Once again, Arkansas improved on its overall ranking with its finish and even knocked off several squads that had the Lady’Backs number throughout the 2004 season. The Lady Razorbacks were well ahead of Southeastern Conference Champion and 14th-ranked Tennessee who finished 21st and 12th-ranked Southern Methodist the NCAA South Central Regional Champion who were 22nd with 519 points.
“If we had a top 15 finish then I would have been ecstatic,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “I’m very pleased with the way that we finished.”
Leading Arkansas into the championships was the duo of senior Alison (Zeinner) Rush and Scott who had finished 1-2 for the Lady Razorbacks most of the season. While Scott was Arkansas’ top finisher, Rush looked solid throughout the course, but a slow start hampered Arkansas’ pre-race strategy.
“I thought that Ali (Rush) and Mo (Scott) took it out too conservatively in the beginning,” Harter said. “In a race like this if you don’t get out then you can get lost in the shuffle.”
Perhaps Arkansas’ best runner on the day was sophomore Kristina Smith who was the Lady’Backs’ second runner to cross the finish line at 100th overall and 71st in the team scoring. Smith, who had a fabulous freshman season, competed at the NCAA meet for the first time and was unfazed by the magnitude of the race as she picked off numerous runners down the home stretch.
“This was certainly the best race of the year for Kristina,” said Harter. “Perhaps even the best race of her career.”
Rounding out the Arkansas top five were Shiloh Whiting and Laura Jakosky who picked up 94 and 98 points toward the Lady Razorback team score keeping all five runners under the 100 point mark making them just one of eight schools to accomplish that task. Junior Jessie Gordon was Arkansas’ sixth runner.
Winning the team championship was third-ranked Colorado who shocked the entire crowd by picking up a mere 63 points to decimate the field. Heavily favored Stanford finished fifth with fifth-ranked Duke finishing second at a distant 144 points.
The Lady Razorbacks now prepare for the indoor track season which begins, January 14, when it hosts the Razorback quadrangular. For more information about Lady Razorback cross country or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.