FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – With a top-10 finish from senior Scott MacPherson, Arkansas Razorback men’s cross country earned a runner-up finish at the 20th annual Chile Pepper Festival on Saturday morning.
Texas A&M topped the 30-team field with 52 points. The Razorbacks were a close second with 75 points and Lamar rounded out the top three with 120 points. Arkansas finished three harriers in top 20, four in the top 33 and its scoring five in the top 36.
"We have our work cut out for us, especially heading into the SEC Championships," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "We weren’t far off from matching up with Texas A&M. We are in range of where we should be at this point of the season. We haven’t put it all together yet but that’s what we are working on in preparation for SECs."
"There’s always room for improvement," Bucknam said. "Not to make excuses but Lane Boyer was sick this week so he wasn’t at top form. A healthy Lane would be running in the top 10 or 15 in a field like this. Daniel LaCava had a huge breakthrough today. We didn’t have a great race but I got a great effort from our guys. They don’t worry me, they excite me. I’m excited to see what’s next for us and how we can improve."
MacPherson, a senior from Plano, Texas, finished seventh overall, sixth among collegians and was the first Razorback to cross the finish line in the 257-man field. He was also the first American collegiate to cross the finish line with former Razorback Seth Summerside finishing in sixth place. He clocked a 10K time of 29:32.13 in just his second race of the 2008 season. His time is a personal best by nearly eight seconds (29:39.3 in 2007).
"I think the team can do better in general but this was a good race for us," MacPherson said. "We had a lot of guys out there who were running their first collegiate 10K. It was great to have Seth (Summerside) up at the front with me. It’s always good to have a familiar face to run next to. This was a good check point for us but we need to step it up at SECs. This is only my second race of the season and it’s encouraging for me. It was also a wakeup call for me and I think for a lot of the guys."
MacPherson was the top Hog, the first SEC runner to finish and finished third among South Central Regional competitors.
Daniel LaCava, improving dramatically from his last outing, was the second Razorback to finish as he caught teammate Andy McClary at the line. He clocked a 10,000-meter time of 30:10.03, a new personal best by more than a minute (31:18.8 in 2007).
He finished 17th overall and 13th among collegians. La Cava was the second SEC runner to finish and he ranked seventh among South Central Region runners.
Andy McClary, making his much anticipated Razorback debut, was the third Hog to cross the finish line. He did so in a 10K time of 30:10.35. He finished third among the SEC runners and eighth among the regional competition.
Alex McClary, running in his first 10K with the Razorbacks, clocked a time of 30:37.06. He finished 33rd overall, fourth among the Hogs, ninth among SEC runners and 15th among the South Central Region.
Freshman Eric Fernandez rounded out the scoring five. He finished 36th overall in his first collegiate 10K race, clocking a time of 30:40.25. He was the fifth freshman overall to cross the finish line.
Finishing 48th and 49th, respectively, were Duncan Phillips and Lane Boyer. Phillips clocked a time of 30:57.92 while Boyer’s 10K clocked in at 30:58.01 as they finished sixth and seventh, respectively, for the Razorbacks.
Also running for Arkansas were Rick Elliott (63rd; 31:18.37), Rio Reina (83rd; 31:54.29) and Michael Chinchar (128th; 32:54.03).
Up next for the Razorbacks with be the SEC Championships, Monday, Nov. 3 at Mississippi State. For more information about Arkansas cross country, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.