FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – No. 2 Arkansas cross country will return to the friendly confines of Fayetteville’s Agri Park this weekend to compete in the 18th annual Chile Pepper Festival. Arkansas will be competing with over 40 Division I and II schools in the 10K race, starting at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday.
Some of the best Division I and II cross country teams in the nation will travel to Fayetteville this weekend for the 18th Chile Pepper Festival. With a mere six weeks left until the NCAA Championships, the Chile Pepper 10K will be a solid indicator of what is to come at the NCAA meet. Highlighting the race will be No. 2 Arkansas, No. 11 UTEP, No. 17 Alabama and Div. II powerhouse No. 3 Abilene Christian.
Scheduled to compete for Arkansas this weekend is Chris Barnicle, Kenny Cormier, Colin Costello, Shawn Forrest, Tyler Hill, Peter Kosgei, Daniel LaCava, Scott MacPherson, Jonathan Norris, Adam Perkins, Rio Reina, Brian Roe and Seth Summerside.
The Razorbacks will face an SEC opponent for the first time this season when Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State compete in the Chile Pepper Festival. Alabama was ranked No. 2 in the SEC preseason coaches poll. The Crimson Tide currently sit at No. 17 in the USTFCCCA rankings. Ole Miss sat at No. 7 in the preseason poll, LSU was No. 9 and Mississippi State sat at No. 10.
Many of the NCAA cross country regions will be represented this weekend. In the South Central region, No. 2 Arkansas sits at No. 1, Sam Houston State stands at sixth, Baylor is ranked No. 7, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is No. 10 and LSU is 12th.
In the South region, No. 17 Alabama leads the pack at No. 1, Mississippi State sits at No. 8 and Ole Miss is 11th. Representing the Mountain region will be No. 11 UTEP, ranked No. 3 in the region, and Wyoming, No. 9 in the region. Coming from the West region is No. 10 California and No. 13 California-Riverside.
Other ranked teams competing will be Wake Forest, No. 10 in the Southeast region, and from the Midwest region will be No. 15 Kansas State.
The top-ranked Razorbacks put on a show for the hometown crowd at the 2005 Chile Pepper Festival when Arkansas’ five scorers finished in the top 16, tallying 57 points and beating tough national competition. Sixth-ranked Arizona was second with 93 points, No. 11 UTEP was third with 94 and Alabama (No. 31) finished fourth with 98 points.
The Hogs were led by senior All-American Josphat Boit who blazed to victory on the 10K course in a record time of 28:27. A 4:20 opening mile helped the Eldoret, Kenya native shatter the old course record of 28:42 that was held by the late Alabama standout David Kimani in 2002.
Forrest was the next Razorback to cross the finish line. He turned in a career-best time of 29:12 as the 11thcollegiate runner. Cormier finished in 14thplace with a time of 29:32. Summerside posted a solid performance and came in 15thwith a time of 29:33. Hill was close on their heels in 16thand clocked 29:36. Kosgei was making his cross country debut as a Razorback and finished in 19thplace with a time of 29:47.
Results from the 2006 Chile Pepper Festival can be found at www.chilepepperfestival.org. For a complete list of this week’s USTFCCCA polls, visit www.ustfccca.org.