MADISON, Wis. – The No. 17 Arkansas men’s cross country team will challenge some of the nation’s top teams on Friday, as they will compete in the sixth annual Wisconsin adidas Invitational. Race time from the Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course will begin at 11:45 a.m.
Head coach Chris Bucknam’s team will go against 16 teams ranked inside the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Top 30 in the Badger State. Six of the USTFCCCA’s Top 10 teams will be in attendance on Friday, as No. 3 Northern Arizona, No. 5 Portland, No. 6 Syracuse, No. 7 Stanford and both teams tied for No. 9 position, UCLA and Wisconsin, will challenge to No. 17-ranked Razorbacks.
Friday will be the first time the Razorbacks have raced since winning the 26th Annual Chile Pepper Festival back on Oct. 4. All-American Stanley Kebenei picked up the event’s individual title, as he defeated fellow Kenyan and last year’s NCAA 3,000-meter steeplechase champion Anthony Rotich of UTEP.
It was a thrilling finish for Kebenei, as he was able to avenge his 3,000-meter steeplechase loss to Rotich at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, crossing the finish line exactly one second in front of the UTEP runner. The 8K time of 23:53.50 was a season-best for the Kenya native, and helped him earn Southeastern Conference Runner of the Week honors on Oct. 7.
The performance at the Chile Pepper Festival also helped Kebenei earn a Flotrack.com Individual Top 25 ranking for the first time this season, as he earned a No. 11 ranking.
Freshman Alex George also garnered a SEC award after the Chile Pepper, as his 11th-place finish earned him his second SEC Freshman Runner of the Week honor this season. George completed the course in 24:26.40, which was a personal-best for the runner on an 8K course.
Redshirt junior Gabe Gonzalez also had a strong showing at the Chile Pepper, as he earned his third top five finish of the year with a time of 24:14.10 to place fifth overall in the event.
For more information on the Arkansas men’s cross country team, follow @RazorbackTF on Twitter.
COACH BUCKNAM PRE-RACE SOUND
On the Wisconsin adidas Invitational:
“First of all, we are glad to be invited to this meet. It’s a privilege to be here, the course is in great shape and the competition is elite. This is the toughest meet of the weekend throughout the country and we’re looking forward to go out there and compete. We are running against a number of ranked teams and we need to make sure we continue to work hard and if we do that we will have a good result.”
On His Team’s Progress:
“This meet will tell us a lot, certainly not the whole story, but a lot about where we are. I think we are making progress, we base that on the workouts and how everybody has looked since the Chile Pepper and I think we’ve looked good and progressed since that race.”
On His Team:
“We are a young team. We have two freshman in our top five, but having a great front runner like Stanley Kebenei really helps. Gabe Gonzalez continues to do well, he had a strong Chile Pepper. We made about a minute difference from our first runner to our fifth runner and we need to cut that down. We are trying to cut that down to forty five seconds, and if we can do that I will be thrilled.”
On Facing Elite Competition:
“That’s what we do all year long, face elite teams. We’re not focused on who we are facing, we are focused on what we can do and just go out there and race. We were seventh here last year, and even though we lost a couple of great runners, I believe that we are capable of great things.”
On Team’s Experience at Wisconsin adidas Invitational:
“It’s important for our team that we’ve ran here before. We came out and practiced the day before the race and it gives the freshman a chance to get to know the course. The returnees were giving advice to them throughout the practice about the course and it’s great that we have so many runners return that ran here last year and that they were helping our young kids learn the course before tomorrow.”
Expected Arkansas Runners
|Runner||Personal-Best 8K Time|
|Sr. Stanley Kebenei||23:34.80, Oct. 5, 2013 (Chile Pepper)|
|R-Jr. Gabe Gonzalez||24:10.00, Oct. 19, 2013 (Wisconsin Invite)|
|R-Jr. Andrew Pisechko||26:42.20, Oct. 4, 2014 (Chile Pepper)|
|R-Jr. Patrick Rono||24:22.00, Oct. 19, 2013 (Wisconsin Invite)|
|Jr. Cale Wallace||24:24.10, Sept. 21, 2013 (Southern Stampede)|
|R-So. Aidan Swain||25:27.30, Oct. 4, 2014 (Chile Pepper)|
|So. Noah Findlay||25:41.60, Sept. 21, 2013 (Southern Stampede)|
|Fr. Austen Dalquist||24:54.00, Oct. 4, 2014 (Chile Pepper)|
|Fr. Alex George||24:26.40, Oct. 4, 2014 (Chile Pepper)|
|Fr. Ethan Moehn||25:41.70, Oct. 4, 2014 (Chile Pepper)|