Poe and McDonnell Awarded SEC Cross Country Ho
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Razorback cross country team was able to top off its successful season when freshman Mike Poe was named the Southeastern Conference Male Freshman of the Year and Arkansas head coach John McDonnell was given the honor of Coach of the Year for the ninth straight year.
“I’m really happy for Mike, he had a great season,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “This will really help boost his confidence and carry over into track season. He’s very focused and headed up the same road as Jason (Sandfort). Poe, along with the other younger guys, really helped our team this year. We could have easily finished second at conference, but they stepped up and made things happen.”
Poe represented Arkansas in all seven meets this season and was an integral part of the scoring five in all his races. He never finished out of the top 21 during his regular season contests. Poe’s best finish came at the Missouri Southern Invitational when he crossed the line in fifth.
At the Chile Pepper Invitational he was UA’s second man with a career-best 10K time of 30:17. The Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., native was the league’s top finishing freshman when he posted a seventh-place performance and career-best 8K time of 25:31 at the SEC Championships. He also earned his first All-SEC honor as a Razorback.
At the NCAA Championships Poe came in 80th (30:43) and was once again the conference’s top finishing freshman as he helped UA to a fifth-place showing. Overall, he was seventh among the nation’s freshmen. Poe is the first freshman to earn the award since teammate Jason Sandfort gained the honor in 2001.
In McDonnell’s 32nd season as head coach he guided the Razorbacks to their 30th consecutive conference crown and 13th straight SEC team title. Arkansas also ran to victory at the NCAA South Central Regional Championships. In Waterloo, Iowa McDonnell’s seventh-ranked Hogs were able to put together a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
McDonnell will look to add his 39th national championship when the 2004 track and field season rolls around. The Razorbacks will start their campaign when they host the Arkansas Invitational on Jan. 16, at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
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