FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Junior Miranda Walker led the Arkansas Razorback women’s cross country team at the 21st annual Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival, in Fayetteville, on Saturday. Walker has been the Hogs’ top finisher in all four meets this season.
Arkansas finished third in the team race with 87 points. The Hogs finished three runners in the top 20 and all five scorers in the top 27. No. 20 Texas Tech won the team race with 35 points. The Lady Raiders finished their top three runners 1-3-4 and all five scorers in the top 21. No. 22 BYU was second with 77 points. The Lady Cougars finished four runners in the top 20 and all five scorers in the top 25.
In the women’s 6,000-meter race, 34 teams competed and 267 runners crossed the finish line.
"We had to lay it all on the line today," head coach Lance Harter said. "We had to count on people that have never run a 6K before and we really had some people step up today. Taylor Johnson and Cali George ran like Warriors. We did a great job of closing the gap on BYU after the Wisconsin meet. We definitely have our work cut out for us at SECs and regionals but we are improving every week and that’s what’s important."
Walker has been Arkansas’ top runner is all four meets this season. She didn’t disappoint on Saturday, picking up a top-10 finish with ninth. She clocked a 6,000-meter time of 21:13.10, currently No. 4 in the SEC, and recorded her best finish at a Chile Pepper event. She was the top SEC runner and was second among South Central Region competitors.
"I thought today went really well, there is nothing better than running at home," Walker said. "This race is a great tune-up for the SEC Championships in two weeks. I thought we ran well as a team and stuck to our race plan."
Sophomore Kristen Gillespie, making her Chile Pepper debut, was the second Razorback to cross the finish line. She did so in a time of 21:29.12. She was the second SEC runner and fourth among South Central Region runners. Sophomore Samantha Learch was Arkansas’ third runner. She clocked a personal-best 6K time of 21:40.14, good for a 23rd-place finish and her best finish at the Chile Pepper.
In their Chile Pepper debuts, freshmen Taylor Johnson and Alyssa Allison rounded out the Arkansas scorers. Johnson was 27th with a time of 21:45.44 while Allison was 31st, clocking a 21:48.78. Both ran their first collegiate 6Ks on Saturday.
Also running for Arkansas were sophomore Cali George (34th, 22:01.00), freshman Keri Wood (64th, 22:37.85) and senior Ashley Williams (75th, 22:51.44). George clocked a personal best in the 6,000 meters while Williams picked up her best Chile Pepper finish. Wood ran her first collegiate 6K.
The Razorbacks will compete next at the SEC Championships, Sat., Oct. 31, in Oxford, Miss. For more information, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com or secsports.com.