Fayetteville, Ark. – A second-place finish by Peter Kosgei wasn’t enough to boost the No. 2 Razorback cross country team past No. 11 UTEP as the Hogs (77 points) fell to the Miners (64 points) at the 18th annual Chile Pepper Festival 10K race.
“We ran a good race,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “We had a few tough meters and Alabama had a few guys up there (at the front). We started our hard workouts (in preparation for the SEC Championships) after Oklahoma State. We had some sickness, viruses and colds in the beginning of the year, but no injuries and we are getting over that now. I think we are in pretty good shape.”
Kosgei crossed the finish line in second place with a 10K personal-best of 28:33.7. He clocked a 29:47 at last year’s event. Nicodemus Naimadu won the race with a time of 28:22.8. This is the second-consecutive race where Kosgei and Naimadu have finished in the top three. Kosgei has also been the top UA finisher in three of Arkansas’ four meets this season.
“Peter (Kosgei) ran a great race,” McDonnell said. “The runner from Abilene Christian (Nicodemus Naimadu) is very good. If you give him another three to four weeks of hard training, he’ll be okay.”
After missing the last two meets, Shawn Forrest was back with vengeance. He was the second UA scorer, finishing 13th overall and 10th among collegians with his clocking of 28:56, also a 10K personal-best.
“I was glad to see Shawn Forrest back out there,” McDonnell said. “He did a great jog. He is one of the guys that has been sick. He ran a really good race and he’ll only get better.”
After tying for first with a time of 20:12 (four miles) at the Arkansas Invitational, Forrest, a native of Melbourne, Australia, missed the Missouri Southern Stampede and the OSU Cowboy Jamboree because of illness.
“I couldn’t ask for anything better (then the way I ran today),” Forrest said. “We always like to win but if everyone runs well and fast, it’s okay (if we lose). The pace was pretty good. I felt pretty comfortable. It was nice and steady throughout the race. There were a lot of quality runners in that race and we were waiting for someone to make the first move.”
Sophomore captain Kenny Cormier was the third Razorback scorer with a 22nd-place finish and a clocking of 29:40.6. Redshirt freshman Scott MacPherson was right behind Cormier with a 25th-place finish and a time of 29:52.6. Also finishing in the top 30 was Adam Perkins in 28th-place. The five-time track All-American clocked a 10K time of 29:58.4, a personal-best. Tyler Hill finished 31st with a time of 30:03.6.
Making his 2006 Razorback cross country debut was Chris Barnicle. Barnicle was Arkansas’ seventh finisher with a 38th-place finish and a time of 30:19.7, a 10K personal-best.
“Scott MacPherson, Kenny Cormier, Adam Perkins and Chris Barnicle, they all did very well,” McDonnell said.
Jonathan Norris was 40th overall and eighth among the Hogs with his time of 30:20.3. Colin Costello clocked a time of 30:46.3 and finished 52nd overall.
“It was a good pace,” McDonnell said. “I think they ran really nice and steady. They kept it going. They ran a 4:30 first mile and that’s pretty fast going up the hill. It worked out good for our guys. I knew UTEP was going to be tough and that’s what we needed. We ran hard and we gave it everything we had. At this stage of our fitness, we have a little way to go.”
Pacing the Hogs throughout the race were three former UA greats, Josphat Boit, Marc Rodrigues and Alistair Cragg. Boit earned a bronze finish with a time of 28:35.8. Rodrigues finished ninth with a 28:46 and Cragg was 11th, crossing the finish line at 28:51.3.
Next up for the Razorbacks is the 2006 SEC Championships in Baton Rouge, La., Sat. Oct. 28. The Cardinal and White will be looking for their 33rd consecutive conference crown and their 16th-consecutive SEC title.