BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — On Tuesday, the Southeastern Conference announced its 2014 women’s cross country awards and three members of the Arkansas women’s cross country team were selected with an honor. Redshirt junior Dominique Scott was named the SEC Runner of the Year, redshirt senior Grace Heymsfield was selected as the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and head coach Lance Harter was named the SEC Coach of the Year.
Scott’s dominate 2014 season allowed the Cape Town, South Africa native to successfully defend her 2013 SEC Runner of the Year award, making her just the fifth athlete in SEC history, and the third Razorback, to earn the honor multiple times. She is the first SEC athlete to win back-to-back SEC Cross Country Runner of the Year honors since Angela Homan of Auburn, who won three straight from 2003-05, and the first Arkansas runner garner consecutive accolades since Amy Yoder, who also won three straight honors from 1997-99.
The redshirt junior has been nearly unbeatable this year, as she has picked up four individual titles in five meets. Most recent, Scott collected her second straight victory at the SEC Cross Country Championship, completing the 6-kilometer course in a personal-best time of 19:22.74 to earn All-SEC first team honors.
During the 2014 season, Scott has been named the SEC Runner of the Week on four separate occasions and was named the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Runner of the Week back on Sept. 22. She set a new personal-best in both the 5-kilometer and the 6-kilometer this season. Her personal-best 5K time of 16:01.00 set back on Oct. 4 at the Chile Pepper Festival is still the fastest time in a 5-kilometer race in NCAA Division I this season.
Heymsfield has had an equally impressive 2014 campaign, as she has dominated in both the classroom and the cross country course. The Elkins, Ark., native has posted three second-place finishes this year, placing behind Scott each time. She recently placed second at the 2014 SEC Cross Country Championship, as she chased down and surpassed Tennessee’s Chelsea Blaase in the final 25-meters. The placing earned Heymsfield her third straight All-SEC first team honor.
In the classroom, Heymsfield posted an accumulative GPA of 3.815 and the dietetics major represented Arkansas at this year’s SEC Symposium, which was entitled Prevention of Obesity: Overcoming a 21st Century Public Health Challenge.
On the course, Heymsfield has set new personal-best in both the 5K and 6K. She reached her new standard in the 5,000-meters back on Oct. 4 at the Chile Pepper Festival where her time of 16:12.00 was good enough for second place, while her time of 19:32:21 at the SEC Championship marked a new personal-record in the 6,000-meters.
For Coach Harter, it is the second straight season that he has earned the conference’s top honor for coaches and the 15th time in his illustrious career he has been named the SEC Coach of the Year, which is the most of any coach in conference history. This year’s award marks the fourth time in the USTFCCCA Hall of Famer’s career that he was won the award in consecutive years. The last time came during the 2006-2008 seasons when he won the honor three straight seasons.
It was a near sweep of the SEC Awards for the Razorbacks, as Missouri freshman Karissa Schweizer was the only non-Arkansas runner to garner an honor, as she was named the SEC Freshman of the Year.
The Razorbacks will be back in action on Friday, as they will host the 2014 NCAA South Central Regional at Agri Park. Arkansas will be looking to grab one of the two automatic team bids this weekend, as the two top teams will advance to the NCAA National Championship in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 22. Race time is slated for 12 p.m.
Quotes from Coach Lance Harter
On Grace Heymsfield winning the inaugural SEC Scholar-Athlete Award: “This is a great honor for Grace that collimates five years of being an outstanding athlete and an even better student in the classroom. She has always been well directed in her academics, and I think this is a great honor for her to celebrate as she looks to further her education in graduate school next year.”
On Dominique Scott winning back-to-back SEC Runner of the Year Awards: “Dom has had a phenomenal season. She is an outstanding competitor and very deserving of all the honors that have been bestowed upon her. She is in rarefied air, becoming just the fifth athlete in our conference to win multiply times, and I think she will take great pride and honor in that. She has been one of the best runners not only in the SEC, but the NCAA this year, and she will represent our conference well at the NCAA Championships in a couple of weeks.”
On being named the SEC Coach of the Year for a conference-leading 15th time: “It’s always nice with your peers bestow an honor on you, but I think it’s a collimation of a journey every year. I’ve had 15 different journeys that have included an SEC championship and I cherish each and every one of them.”
For more information on the Arkansas women’s cross country team, follow @RazorbackTF on Twitter.