FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas Lady Razorback cross country team received some pleasant but unexpected news on Monday afternoon when it was picked second in the nation in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s final poll of the 2006 season.
The Lady Razorbacks began the season eighth in the poll, another surprise, but as the season has progressed, the youth dominated Arkansas lineup has proven its ability and moved up to fourth and ultimately second as the Lady’Backs prepare for the NCAA Championships.
“This is a nice surprise,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “Certainly it is nice to be recognized by your peers as a team to watch for, but I was not expecting this. I would like to know who picked us number one. This is a special team that has done everything that it needs to prepare for the NCAA Championships. Now we just have to go out and see what happens.”
Arkansas took one of the 13 first-place votes in the final poll; the only team to break into Stanford University’s strangle hold on the top spot in the nation. The defending NCAA Champion was the unanimous number one choice in the preseason poll and continues to be ranked first with the final poll. The Lady Razorback’s poll total of 372 points is not the closest that a team has been to the Cardinal this season, but the first-place vote gained by the Lady’Back says more than the points ever will.
The last time a Lady Razorback squad was ranked second in the nation was on Nov. 2, 1999 when Arkansas entered the NCAA regional championships number two. That squad was also the last to earn a first-place vote in the poll. Prior to 1999, one has to go back to 1994 to find an Arkansas team that earned a first-place vote in the poll.
At the NCAA Regional Championships, Arkansas ran a tactical race which led to its 14th and second consecutive regional title. Arkansas’ 53-point margin of victory though was the second largest in school history trailing only the 1994 team’s 67-point win for largest ever. The 2006 squad finished 4-5-6-7-8 in the team standings for 30 points, its lowest total since 2002 (29).
On the season, the Lady Razorbacks have amassed a staggering 90-0-0 overall record with six consecutive meet titles under their belt. They are the only team entering the NCAA meet with an unblemished record and are doing so for the first time since 1993 when it finished second in the nation.
For more information about Lady Razorback cross country or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.