No. 6 Arkansas men’s & women’s cross country open season at Missouri

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(photo courtesy of Arkansas Razorbacks Athletics)

Men’s Cross Country

The No. 6 nationally ranked Razorbacks start their cross country season with the Missouri XC Opener over a 6,000m distance on the Gans Creek course this Friday, competing on the same venue that will later host the SEC Championships.

Teams competing in the meet include host Missouri, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt.  

“We’re going to take the whole team up this weekend, which will give everybody an opportunity to see the course,” said men’s head coach Chris Bucknam, in his 14th season at Arkansas. “I think that’s important. The SEC Championships is a big meet on our schedule, so we appreciate the opportunity in being invited to compete there.”

While a crew of 16 will make the trip, only a portion will compete over the 6k men’s course, which includes a pair of 3k loops, with a start time of 8:30 a.m. Live results will be available through this link.

“We will not run a full squad,” said Bucknam. “We will take nearly everyone up there, but for a few of our guys it’s too early for them to race. They’ll work out on the course as it gives us an opportunity to check it out for October.”

The 2021 Razorback squad returns 14 members from last year while adding four newcomers. A pair of All-America runners leading the team include Amon Kemboi, 11th in the NCAA Championships, and Gilbert Boit, who placed 40th. 

Other members of the Arkansas team which earned a fourth-place trophy in the NCAA Championships include Jacob McLeod, Emmanuel Cheboson, and Ryan Murphy. 

“We’ve got a great mixture of veterans and young people,” noted Bucknam. “Already watching them interact it’s a good vibe. So, we’re looking forward to seeing what that group can do.” 

A third All-America from last season is Luke Meade, who suffered an ankle injury during the summer while rock climbing which will prevent him from competing this season.

“That was a blow to us,” said Bucknam. “We will try to fill in around him and try to accomplish the same goals as always.

“Luke was recreating during the summer and got hurt. He’s out for the season, if not for the indoor and outdoor season too. I feel bad for him, Luke was a great addition to our team last season after transferring from Furman. He did a phenomenal job for us.”

Returning Razorbacks who raced in the conference meet and contributed to a SEC team title include Andrew Kibet, Myles Richter, and Josh Shearer. They are joined by Luke George, Sam Hall, Carter Persyn, Tommy Romanow, and Jayce Turner. 

Newcomers to the Arkansas program making the trek to Missouri include Reuben Reina, Elias Schreml, Ben Shearer, and Jack Williams.

Women’s Cross Country

Opening the cross country season on Friday at the Missouri XC Opener, the No. 6 nationally ranked Razorbacks will race over a 5,000m distance on the Gans Creek course which will serve as host of the SEC Championships in late October.

Teams competing in the meet include host Missouri, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt.  

“Any time we can be on a championship-level course is going to be to our advantage,” stated women’s head coach Lance Harter, in his 32nd season at Arkansas. “We’re looking forward to returning to Columbia and get a chance to preview that course. We’ll actually study it pretty well both Thursday and Friday to get ready for the SEC Championships.” 

The Razorbacks will travel a group of 16 runners. The women’s 5k course will include a 3k and 2k loop with a start time of 9 a.m. Live results will be available through this link

“As an opener it may be a little faster, and have more quality than what we anticipated,” noted Harter. “We’re going to go in and work out through it and try to see how people compete.

“Cross country serves as a purpose, ultimately, to get ready for indoor and then our bread and butter, the outdoor season. We’re fortunate to have a great balanced track and field program and I think our distance crew always takes care of business during the cross country season, and that’s great momentum for the whole team heading into the track season.”

All-America Krissy Gear, who placed 21st in the NCAA Championships last season, returns along with Lauren Gregory, who led the team in the SEC Championships when Arkansas claimed an eighth consecutive team title, and Taylor Ewert, the SEC Freshman of the Year.

Returning Razorbacks from the NCAA team which placed 10th last season includes Logan Jolly, Gracie Hyde, Corie Smith, Meghan Underwood, and Kennedy Thomson. Contributors to the SEC title also include Isabel Van Camp and Quinn Owen.

“We do have some upper-class leadership, led by Krissy and Lauren,” said Harter. “That’s always exciting when you have people who have that experience and confidence to run at the front. 

“We just need to make sure we have three or four others who can tuck in as close to them as possible. That makes for a very formidable team.”

Julia Paternain, coming back from an injury, as well as London Culbreath and Adoette Vaughn, who each had a redshirt season in 2020, will be joined by a freshman class that includes four talented newcomers in Allie Janke, Heidi Nielson, Carmie Prinsloo, and Sydney Thorvaldson.

“We’re truly blessed that we had one of the best recruiting classes ever in the history of Arkansas,” said Harter. “Unfortunately, three of them came to campus with some setback during the spring or summer.

“The good news for us is we have enough veterans returning who have experience, and produced great track marks amid a great track season, that they can take care of business throughout the season.”

NCAA National Preseason Coaches’ Poll – Men

1.    Northern Arizona

2.    Notre Dame

3.    BYU

4.    Oregon

5.    Stanford

6.    Arkansas

7.    Oklahoma State

8.    Tulsa

9.    Butler

10.  Iona

11.  Iowa State

12.  Colorado

13.  Washington

14.  Wisconsin

15.  Wake Forest

16.  Michigan State

tie   Portland

18.  Ole Miss

19.  Utah State

20.  Furman

21.  Villanova

22.  Indiana

23.  Duke

24.  Southern Utah

25.  Georgetown

NCAA National Preseason Coaches’ Poll – Women’s

1.    BYU

2.    NC State

3.    Stanford

4.    New Mexico

5.    Michigan State

6.    Arkansas

7.    Alabama

8.    Colorado

9.    Minnesota

10.  Washington

11.  Michigan

12.  Northern Arizona

13.  North Carolina

14.  Boise State

15.  Ole Miss

16.  Indiana

17.  Illinois

18.  Florida State

19.  Notre Dame

20.  Georgetown

21.  Oklahoma State

22.  Oregon State

23.  Connecticut

24.  Princeton

25.  Georgia Tech

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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