FAYETTEVILLE – For the second-straight season, senior Miranda Walker paced the Arkansas Razorback women’s cross country team to a victory at the season-opening Arkansas Invitational.
The Razorbacks and Missouri Southern ran a 4,000-meter race at Agri Park, in Fayetteville, Friday night. Arkansas won the team race with a perfect 15 points and Missouri Southern scored 50 points. Arkansas finished eight runners in the top nine and all nine runners in the top 14.
"We got a lot accomplished today," head coach Lance Harter said. "We wanted to get our newcomers in the uniform and get them into a position to get a feel for what college races are all about. I think our young people adapted well. This is just an extension of our training and what we have been doing the last few weeks. It was all positive on our end and we held some key people out so I think our future looks really bright."
Walker won the 4,000-meter race in a time of 14:07.0. She was closely followed by junior Kristen Gillespie who finished second with a time of 14:07.2. Gillespie shaved 38 seconds off her 4K time from the 2009 Arkansas Invitational (14:45.4).
"It’s great to be racing again," Walker said. "We’ve been training and went to camp the last few weeks. This is a great chance to get our feet wet and run on our home course together. This meet is a chance to shake off the rust, run as a pack and we got that accomplished tonight."
Junior Samantha Learch was the fifth harrier to cross the finish line and she finished fourth among the Hogs with a time of 14:33.0. Junior Cali George was sixth overall and Arkansas’ final scorer. She clocked a time of 14:38.2. George shaved more than 10 seconds off her 4K time from the 2009 Arkansas Invitational (14:49.1).
Five freshmen made their Razorback cross country debuts Friday night. Indoor track and field All-American Stephanie Brown finished third overall and third among the Hogs with a time of 14:12.5. Ashley Isham was seventh overall and sixth on the team in 14:45.3. Paige Johnston was eighth overall clocking a 14:54.0. With a time of 14:55.4, Grace Heymsfield was ninth overall and eighth among the Razorbacks. Rachel Carpino was 14th in 15:28.9.
The Razorbacks will compete next on Saturday, Sept. 18 at the UC-Riverside Invitational.