TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – On Friday, the No. 23 Arkansas men’s cross country team looks to take the Southeastern Conference cross country crown for the fifth straight season, as they will compete in the 2014 SEC Cross Country Championships on the campus of the University of Alabama. The race, at Harry Pritchett Running Course, is slated to begin at 10 a.m.
|SEC CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS MEET CENTRAL|
|Oct. 31, 2014 | 10 a.m. CT | Awards Ceremony (11:15 a.m. CT)|
|Harry Pritchett Running Course | Tuscaloosa, Ala.|
2013 TEAM CHAMP
2013 INDIVIDUAL CHAMP
|Kemoy Campbell, Arkansas|
SEC MEET RECORD
|Kemoy Campbell, Arkansas | 22:58.73 | 2013|
|Air Date is Sunday, November 9 (8 p.m. CT) | SEC Network|
|Thad Anderson and Larry Rawson|
|Championship Central | SEC Preview|
|Twitter | Facebook|
Head coach Chris Bucknam’s squad looks to continue its domination of the SEC, as Arkansas seeks its fifth straight conference title. The Razorbacks are the favorite to bring home the title again, as they were the only team to be ranked in the United States Track &Field/Cross Country (USTFCCCA) Top 30 Poll all season. Ole Miss will enter this Friday’s race receiving votes in the USTFCCCA poll, but have not been able to crack the top 30.
2013 NCAA All-American Stanley Kebenei will attempt to give the Razorbacks their second straight individual champion at the SEC Championship after Kemoy Campbell won the event last year. Kebenei, who posted the second-fastest 8K time in the SEC (23:55.00) his last time out at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational (Oct. 17), is the highest placing returnee from last year’s SEC Championships as he finished second in the event.
It’s been a strong final season for the Kenya native, as he has one individual title (Chile Pepper Festival) to go along with two other top six finishes this season. Though he has only competed in three races overall, Kebenei has been able to be named the SEC Runner of the Week on two separate occasions. The first came after his first-place finish at the Chile Pepper Festival (Oct. 7) and the most recent happened after his six-place performance at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational (Oct. 17).
The senior isn’t the only Arkansas runner to earn SEC honors this year, as freshman Alex George’s first year on campus has yielded the Englishman three SEC Freshman of the Week awards. George set a personal-best his last time out in Wisconsin with his time of 24:25.00 to finish 57th and earn the SEC Freshman of the Week honor for the third time this season.
A pair of All-SEC juniors highlight the group of returners for the No. 23-ranked team in the nation, as Gabe Gonzalez, who placed 10th at last year’s SEC Championships, and Cale Wallace, who earned All-SEC honors in 2012, look to help Arkansas win its 22nd overall SEC cross country championship in the last 24 years.
COACH BUCKNAM PRE-RACE SOUND
Bucknam on his team going into the 2014 SEC Cross Country Championship
“I’m confident in our abilities going into this weekend. I’ve been pleased with this team and how they’ve come together over the course of the year. This is a group that has a great work ethic and they’re competitors. It is definitely going to be a challenge, especially since we’ve never ran on this course before, a lot of people will be gunning for us, but I’m looking forward to seeing these guys race in a big-time meet.”
Bucknam on being the favorite
“We don’t really talk about being the favorite or our history. The kids are aware of it and it’s a part of why they choose Arkansas. We have a job to do on Friday morning to try to win an SEC Championship and it’s something our kids have done before so they know what it takes. We have tremendous respect for the teams in our conference, there are some great teams and some remarkable individuals so we have to be at the top of our game to pull out a win.”
Bucknam on the youth of his team
“The two freshman we have in our top five, (Alex George and Austen Dalquist) were big-time runners at the high school level. They are used to big meets, Austen is a double state champion from Texas his senior year and he is used to going up against some of the best in the country and Alex being on the National circuit in England, is used to the same. They both have been in some tough races before this, and that fact gives me confidence that those two will be mentally ready to compete in the championship portion of our schedule.”
SEC CHAMPIONSHIP NOTES
- Friday’s race marks the fifth time Alabama has hosted the SEC Championship and the first time since the 2000 season. That year the Razorbacks ran away with the title, scoring 27 points, as David Kimani won the first of his three straight SEC individual titles.
- Arkansas will seek its fifth straight SEC cross country championship and the programs 22nd overall.
- The Razorbacks have won 21 of the last 23 SEC Cross Country Championships, with only a back-to-back title run from Alabama in 2008 and 2009 preventing the Razorbacks from a perfect 23-year run.
- Under Coach Bucknam, Arkansas has won five SEC Cross Country Championships in his six seasons.
- Arkansas collected a score of 31 to win its fourth straight SEC Cross Country Championship. Kemoy Campbell set an 8K record in the Championship with a time of 22:58.75.
- Arkansas will seek its first back-to-back individual SEC Champion since the 2004 and 2005 races, when Josphat Boit won the back-to-back titles.
- The Razorbacks have won the individual title in two of the last three years.
- Arkansas has had nine runners win 14 SEC individual championships.
- Senior Stanley Kebenei is one of two 2013 USTFCCCA Cross Country All-Americans that will participate in this year’s SEC Cross Country Championships, joining Auburn transfer Ty McCormack, who earned All-American status at Clemson last season.
- Kebenei’s season-best 8K time of 23:55.00 is the second-fastest in the SEC this season, just 1.03 seconds off of McCormack’s season-best time of 23:53.97.
- Kebenei is seeking his first career SEC cross country individual title. If he were to take home the victory, it would be the third SEC men’s individual cross country title in the last four years for Arkansas. Eric Fernandez won in 2011, while fellow Razorback Kemoy Campbell captured the crown last season.
For more information on Arkansas men’s cross country, follow @RazorbackTF on Twitter.