FAYETTEVILLE – Led by freshman Brooke Upshaw and a trio of Lady Razorbacks among the top 10 finishers overall, the fourth-ranked University of Arkansas cross country team dominated the 43-team field at the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival on Saturday finishing with 41 points to second place and #20 Duke’s 132.
Fighting a huge field at the start, the Lady Razorbacks had to battle for position over the first ¾ of a mile, but once the field began to string itself out; Arkansas took control of the competition and never looked back.
“I was very surprised to see what we did in Oregon,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “But what we did here was just as impressive. We seemed a little lost at first, but once our team regrouped around the mile marker, they got into a groove. We have a lot of young bodies out there and this is the biggest race they have been a part of, but they came through it just fine.”
Upshaw was the fifth finisher overall and led sophomores Christine Kalmer and Denise Bargiachi through the top 10. Dacia Barr finished 12th and Danielle Parry 14th to round out Arkansas’ scoring five. The Lady Razorback dominance of the competition was so thorough that Arkansas placed its top five runners ahead of any other team’s third finisher.
Coming down the first hill, the Lady Razorbacks appeared to be getting competition from #28 Texas Tech who had two of the top three runners overall at the time. The Lady’Backs were strung out over the top 20 competitors, but began to show their strength around the meadow as they started to form into groups. With one mile to go, Upshaw sat in fifth position behind a Duke runner, then Kalmer and Bargiachi ran eighth and ninth overall. Texas Tech, Virginia Tech and Duke each looked good at that point, but faded down the stretch.
The Arkansas win is its first Chile Pepper victory since 2002, a win that capped off a five-year run of Arkansas Chile Pepper victories. The Lady Razorbacks also remain undefeated on the season with a perfect 65-0-0 record.
Arkansas scored 41 points in the team standings to take the 91-point victory over #20 Duke (132). #28 Texas Tech finished third with 134 followed by #30 Virginia Tech (168) and #19 Baylor (179). Texas Tech’s Sally Kipyego and Desiraye Osburn finished 1-2 individually with stunning times of 19:29.3 and 19:55.0.
For more information about Lady Razorback cross country or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to LADYBACKS.COM.