Razorbacks Cruise to South Central Regional Cr
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Despite leaving three of its top five runners at home, Arkansas still managed to blitz the field at the South Central Regional Cross Country Championships at College Station, Texas, on Saturday morning.
The Razorbacks posted a team score of 56 to easily outdistance second-place Texas (115) and earn their 13th consecutive South Central Cross Country championship. The top two teams from each district advance to the NCAA Championships set for Furman, S.C. on Nov. 19.
Arkansas head coach John McDonnell decided to leave three of the Hogs’ top runners in Fayetteville to rest for the national meet. Sophomore Alistair Cragg, freshman Jason Sandfort and junior Dirk Heinze all sat out Saturday’s action. The Hogs made McDonnell’s gamble payoff by clinching the team crown and an automatic berth in the NCAA championships.
“Our guys did a great job today,” McDonnell said. “The top guys ran the race we needed them to run. I told our guys that we were going to treat this like a preliminary race in track. We needed to advance. We took a chance by leaving some of our guys at home, but everyone stepped up to fill the gap. Some of our runners today won’t go to the national meet, but they contributed to NCAA championship run by helping us get there.”
Junior Daniel Lincoln and sophomore Silverus Kimeli led the way for the Hogs on Saturday by crossing the line together to capture second and third, respectively. Both Lincoln and Kimeli clocked in at 30:13. The Razorback duo ran with the individual winner Eliud Njubi for a majority of the race, but strategically lagged back when the TCU runner broke to the lead with 600 yards to go.
“Daniel and Silverus did exactly what I wanted them to do,” McDonnell said. “They didn’t go out for the individual title, they kept the team goal in mind. They could have sprinted with Njubi at the end, but they needed to save it for the national meet. Daniel continues to give us consistency and Silverus is coming on at the right time.”
Sophomore Fernando Cabada, who is already penciled in the Razorbacks’ starting plans, captured 10th place honors in 30:51. With six of seven spots in the Razorbacks’ NCAA lineup set prior to the race, several UA runners were competing for the seventh spot on Saturday. Sophomore Chris Mulvaney bolstered his chances to make the squad by finishing 22nd with a time of 31:17. Other UA contenders included sophomore Westley Alkin and Ryan Joseph. Alkin finished 27th in 31:31 while Joseph slipped to 65th with a time of 32:49. Junior Patrick Thomas clocked in at 32:24 to take 50th place.
“At this point, it looks like Chris would be a strong candidate for our seventh position,” McDonnell said. “You don’t know until next week, but hopefully we can avoid any injuries and be ready to go. I think we will be pretty tough.”
Arkansas will be seeking its fourth-consecutive NCAA cross country title a week from Monday at Furman, S.C. The Razorbacks have won a combined 36 national championships under McDonnell including 11 cross country crowns.
Team Results (Top 10)
1. Arkansas – 56
2. Texas – 115
3. Tulane – 125
4. Baylor – 131
5. SMU – 134
6. Texas A&M – 136
7. North Texas – 184
8. Stephen F. Austin – 201
9. LSU – 203
10. Rice – 234
Individual Results (Top 10)
1. Eliud Njubi, TCU – 30:02
2. Daniel Lincoln, Arkansas – 30:13
3. Silverus Kimeli, Arkansas – 30:13
4. Randy Arias, Southwest Texas State – 30:21
5. Kandie Soloman, Tulane – 30:28
6. Juan De Bastos, Texas A&M – 30:31
7. Likaya Dayile, LSU – 30:41
8. Dalibor Balgac, SMU – 30:45
9. Seth Bortey, Arkansas State – 30:48
10. Fernando Cabada, Arkansas – 30:51
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