NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The ninth-ranked University of Arkansas men’s cross country team ran to the team title Friday morning at the 2012 Southeastern Conference Championships at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Tenn. The win represents the third-straight SEC cross country title for the Razorbacks and the program’s 20th overall since joining the league in 1991-92. Arkansas was paced by a 2-3-4 finish from Solomon Haile, Eric Fernandez and Kemoy Campbell, respectively.
"We wanted to come in and make a statement," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "This is the first of three legs in the championship season. This is really the most important one. The SEC Championship means a lot to our school. When you win an SEC title in any sport, it’s special and I’m awfully proud of our guys for the effort they put in today and all the hard work they’ve done all year."
Friday’s victory is the Razorbacks’ ninth SEC title under Bucknam with three cross country (2010-12), three indoor track and field (2009-10, 2012) and three outdoor track and field (2009, 2011-12) titles. Dating back to the 2011 SEC Outdoor Championships, Arkansas has now won five consecutive SEC competitions.
In addition to the team title, the Razorbacks collected six All-SEC accolades. For their top-seven performances, Haile, Fernandez and Campbell were named to the All-SEC First Team. Layne Nixon and Cale Wallace earned spots on the All-SEC Second Team. Wallace, the top freshman runner in the race, was also a member of the SEC All-Freshman team.
In his return to the SEC Championships, Haile was Arkansas’ top performer with a second-place individual finish. He posted an 8K time of 23:47.27. Haile redshirted the 2011 cross country season. Fernandez was third overall in 23:52.16, while Campbell crossed in fourth place with a time of 23:55.38. The Razorbacks’ top three has remained intact for three straight races.
Nixon and Wallace rounded out the Razorbacks’ top-five scoring lineup. Nixon navigated the 8K course in a time of 24:14.52, good for 12th place in Friday’s race. Nixon has been part of Arkansas’ scoring lineup in all four competitions this season. Wallace finished in 14th place in his first SEC Championships. He crossed the line in a time of 24:17.79.
The Razorbacks’ remaining runners included Cameron Efurd in 21st place at 24:30.75, David Flynn in 24th at 24:36.76, Raymond Joseph in 46th at 25:17.36, Anthony Lieghio in 57th at 25:31.00 and Drew Butler in 63rd at 25:33.63.
Friday’s race marked the start of the championship season for the Razorbacks. The postseason schedule continues Friday, Nov. 9 on Arkansas’ home course as Agri Park will serve as the site of the 2012 NCAA South Central Championships. The collegiate season comes to a close Saturday, Nov. 17 with the NCAA Championships in Louisville, Ky.
For more information regarding Razorback cross country or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com. Fans can also keep up with Arkansas cross country and track and field with the team’s sport-specific RazorbackTF Facebook and Twitter pages.
Download: SEC Championships results, men_10.26.pdf