NEW ORLEANS — On Monday, the United States Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association announced its Week Six Regional Poll and the Arkansas men’s cross country team upheld its No. 1 ranking in the South Central after winning its fifth straight Southeastern Conference last Friday in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Arkansas was able to claim the South Central’s top spot for the 15th straight week after capturing its fifth straight SEC cross country title. It was the Razorbacks 22nd conference championship in the last 24 years, as there 54 points were just enough to squeak by Ole Miss, who collected 60 points to finish second.
Senior All-American Stanley Kebenei led the way for Hogs as he captured the SEC individual title for the first time in his career. Kebenei, who finished second at last year’s SEC Championship, ran away from the field in the final 2,000 meters as his time of 23:49.27 was nearly 11 seconds faster than second place finisher Ty McCormack of Auburn.
Kebenei’s first-place finish marked one of four top 10 finishes for the Razorbacks, as redshirt junior Gabe Gonzalez placed fourth (24:26.47), junior Cale Wallace came in eighth (24:40.51) and freshman Alex George placed 10th (24:46.10) in his SEC Championship debut.
The four top 10 finishes would prove to be vital for Arkansas, as five Ole Miss runners completed the course before the Razorbacks’ fifth runner. Junior Aidan Swain was the 31st runner to cross the finish line, and that would prove to be enough to hold off the Rebels. Swain was able to pass nearly 15 runners in the final 2,000 meters after a teammate dropped out of the race to get Arkansas enough points to overcome the Oxford, Miss., squad.
The No. 1 ranking in this week’s USTFCCCA Regional Poll will make Arkansas the South Central’s top team going into the NCAA South Central Region on Nov. 14 at Agri Park.
Texas placed in behind the Razorbacks again, as they finished fourth at the Big 12 Championship. Lamar held on to its No. 3 ranking in the region after winning the Southland Conference Championship, while North Texas jumped up two spots to No. 4 by winning the Conference USA Championship. Fellow SEC member, Texas A&M, rounded out the top five with its eighth-place finish at the SEC Championships.
Arkansas returns to action on Nov. 14, when they host the NCAA South Central Regional. The Razorbacks will be attempting to win their third straight NCAA Regional crown, as they look to earn an automatic team bid to the NCAA National Championships. Race time from Agri Park is slated for 12 p.m.
For more information on the Arkansas men’s cross country team, follow @RazorbackTF on Twitter.