Razorback Cross Country Looks to Qualify for N
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Two weeks ago the Hogs dominated the Southeastern Conference Cross Country Championships in Gainesville, Fla., by claiming their 12th straight title since joining the SEC in 1991 and their 29th consecutive crown. This week they’ll be traveling to Waco, Texas for the South Central Regional Championships on November 16.
Coach McDonnell will be taking his top runners to the meet, as seven Razorbacks will be competing in the 10,000-meter race on the Cottonwood Golf Course at 10 a.m. Senior Patrick Thomas; junior All-Americans Alistair Cragg, Daniel Lincoln and Silverus Kimeli; sophomore All-American Jason Sandfort; and freshmen Luis Bordes and Michael Taylor will represent Arkansas this Saturday.
“We’d like to rest them more, but it didn’t work out that way,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “We’re taking the top five from conference. Lincoln and Cragg shouldn’t have to run all out. I look at the regional race like a prelim for a 1,500-meter race. It doesn’t matter what you do in the prelim as long as you qualify for the finals and win. As long as we make regionals, we’ll be secure for nationals, but it’s not over until it’s over.”
Cragg and Lincoln helped carry Arkansas to a first place finish at the SEC Championships after they finished second (24:20) and third (24:30), respectively. Kimeli and Sandfort were next when they came in fifth (25:03) and sixth (25:12). Bordes powered up at the end of the race to finish 15th (25:44). Regionals will be Taylor and Thomas’ first race since the Chile Pepper Invitational on October 19. They ran times of 32:12 and 31:57 in the 10K invitational, respectively.
This weekend will also provide an opportunity for Coach McDonnell to see who can fill the sixth and seventh man positions on the squad for nationals in Terra Haute, Ind., on November 25.
“We have talent, but some of them didn’t get it done early in the season, but that’s not to say that they can’t get it done now,” McDonnell says. “We want to take the seven best to nationals and regionals will help us find those seven.”
Twenty-nine teams, including perennial powers Texas and SMU, will be competing on Saturday morning. Texas finished second to nationally ranked Colorado at the Big 12 Championships and SMU won the Western Athletic Conference title, but McDonnell is confident his team will meet the challenge.
“SMU has a couple good guys up front,” McDonnell says. “Texas will be running for their lives, because both of those teams really want to go to nationals. But I’m not too worried about either one.”
After the Hogs return from Waco, Texas they will gear up for the 2002 NCAA Cross Country Championships on November 25, in Terra Haute, Ind. Arkansas will be looking to claim their 12th NCAA cross country crown and their 37th overall title since McDonnell came to Fayetteville.
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