FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas women’s cross country team will open its bid towards a fourth-consecutive Southeastern Conference sweep with the start of the 2017 cross country season on Sept. 1.
The Razorbacks regular season schedule will see them line up against regional foes in Oklahoma and Missouri in early September before challenging national powers at the Notre Dame Invitational (Sept. 30) and Pre-Nationals (Oct. 14) ahead of the SEC Championships (Oct. 27).
Arkansas returns two of the best distance talents in the NCAA in 2016 South Central Region champion Devin Clark and 2016 All American Taylor Werner. In addition to Clark and Werner, four more members of the 2016 Razorback top-seven including, Abby Gray, Therese Haiss, Nikki Hiltz and Carina Viljoen will lace up their flats once again for another Fall campaign. While Werner collected national accolades in her debut season, fellow classmate Gray made waves of her own last season as the SEC Freshman of the Year.
“We return the vast majority of our team from last year, but our real excitement comes from the evolvement of our freshman class and how they’ve position themselves in the national spotlight,” head coach Lance Harter said. “With those returners and our 2017 recruiting class, headlined by Lauren Campbell, Ashton Endsley and Lauren Gregory, we expect some solid performances this season.”
Regular Season Challenges
In an effort to prepare for the 2017 NCAA Cross Country Championships in Louisville, Kentucky, the Razorbacks will go to work, focusing on fast starts at courses that require a runner to move quick or be relegated to slower paces because of narrowing trails. Arkansas’ top seven will be road tested first in South Bend, Indiana at Notre Dame at the end of September and then once again at Pre-Nationals in Louisville in mid-October.
“Notre Dame requires you to get out really, really fast, so we’re trying to parallel what we’re going to see at NCAAs early in the season,” Harter said. “That same weekend we plan on relying on our next seven to step into a leadership role at the Chile Pepper Festival and gain experience, taking charge on our home course in front of our home crowd.”
Minimal Home Action
Fans will get a chance to see the Hogs race at home this year as a group of Razorbacks will remain in Fayetteville, Arkansas the weekend of Sept. 30 for the 2017 Chile Pepper Festival at Agri Park. The fast course was the site of last year’s SEC and NCAA South Central Region Championships, which will be hosted by Georgia and Texas A&M, respectively, this upcoming season.
2017 Cross Country Schedule
Fri, Sept. 1 – Cowboy Duals (Stillwater, Okla.)
Sat, Sept. 16 – Riverside Invitational (Riverside, Calif.)
Sat, Sept. 16 – Southern Stampede (Joplin, Mo.)
Sat, Sept. 30 – Chile Pepper Festival (Agri Park)
Sat, Sept. 30 – Notre Dame Invitational (South Bend, Ind.)
Sat, Oct. 14 – Pre-Nationals (Louisville, Ky.)
Fri, Oct. 27 – SEC Championship (Athens, Ga.)
Fri, Nov. 10 – NCAA South Central Regional (College Station, Texas)
Sat, Nov. 18 – NCAA Championship (Louisville, Ky.)
Bold denotes a home event.
For more information on Arkansas track and field including in-meet updates, follow @RazorbackTF on Twitter.