FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas cross country has been tabbed at No. 2 in the nation in the US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) preseason poll, it was announced on Tuesday. The defending NCAA Champion Wisconsin Badgers are listed in the No. 1 spot.
“I’m surprised actually,” head coach John McDonnell said. “I didn’t think we would be that high up in the poll. I’m glad the coaches believe in us. I think we are going to be a good team. I just didn’t think the coaches would rank us that high.”
The Hogs are led by All-Americans senior Peter Kosgei and sophomore Kenny Cormier. Kosgei and Cormier finished 12th and 28th, respectively, at the 2005 NCAA Championships en route to Arkansas’ silver finish.
The Razorbacks were ranked No. 3 in the 2005 preseason poll, sat at No. 1 in the middle of the season and ended 2005 at No. 2.
Wisconsin won last year’s NCAA title with 37 points. Led by All-American Chris Solinsky, Wisconsin returns four runners who placed in the top 18 at last year’s NCAA cross country meet, Solinsky (third), Matt Withrow (ninth), Stuart Eagon (17th) and Tim Nelson (18th).
Rounding out the top 10 of the poll are No. 3 Colorado, No. 4 Stanford, No. 5 Texas, No. 6 Iona, No. 7 Portland, No. 8 Arizona, No. 9 Oklahoma State and No. 10 Kansas.
Also ranked in the SEC are Alabama at No. 19, Florida at No. 24 and Tennessee is receiving votes.
At the first race of the young 2006 season, the Hogs recorded a perfect team score of 15 points as five lettermen crossed the finish line in a time of 20:12. Kosgei finished in the top spot. Seth Summerside, Scott MacPherson, Shawn Forrest and All-American Kenny Cormier also crossed the finish line in 20:12.
McDonnell, in his 35th season with the Hogs, has led Arkansas to 32-consecutive conference cross country titles and 15-consecutive SEC cross country titles.
In its heralded history, Arkansas has produced 11 NCAA cross country crowns. The Cardinal and White have also won three individual NCAA titles from two student-athletes, Joe Falcon (1987) and Godfrey Siamusiye (1995 and 1996).
Next up on the schedule for the Razorbacks will be the Missouri Southern Invitational, Sat., Sept. 16, in Joplin, Mo. The race will go off at 9:45 a.m.
The weekly USTFCCCA rankings are determined by a committee of NCAA Division I coaches. Updated rankings will be posted each Tuesday at www.ustfccca.org.