No. 8 Arkansas will be one of a dozen nationally ranked teams racing among 40 schools over 8,000m in the Pre-National Invitational hosted by Florida State at 7 a.m. (CT) on Friday morning on the Apalachee Regional Park course.
The meet serves as a preview of the course that will host the NCAA Championships on November 20. Nationally ranked teams in the men’s field also include 1. Northern Arizona, 2. Notre Dame, 5. BYU, 7. Colorado, 17. Wake Forest, 20. Florida State, 22. Alabama, 24. Texas, 25. Weber State, 28. Mississippi, and 30. Charlotte.
There is a $5 charge for spectators, which can be pre-paid at the FSU On-Line Ticket website: Pre-National Inv. Tickets
Having a ticket scanned at the gate from your phone will offer a quicker entry to the course. Tickets will also be sold at the gate. The same service will be used for the NCAA Championships.
In addition to seeing the NCAA course and facing some of the top teams in the nation, the Razorbacks will also race against conference schools prior to the SEC Championships, which will be held on Oct. 29. Other SEC schools in the Pre-National Invitational race include Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
“We’re excited to see our guys compete and get on the course,” said Razorback men’s head coach Chris Bucknam. “It gives us a chance to get out of town and check out the course while competing against some great competition.
“We’ll run seven athletes with the rest staying at home to get ready for the conference championship in a couple of weeks. We’ll have the same group that ran in Boston. Myles Richter, after finishing second at Chile Pepper, will be part of our seven this week.”
With a field that includes the top two ranked teams in the nation along with five of the current top 10, the Razorbacks will have a chance to gauge their progression this month after winning in Boston a couple of weeks ago.
“It’s going to be a really tough, competitive meet,” noted Bucknam. “The No. 1 team in the country, Northern Arizona, is entered as well as the No. 2 team, Notre Dame. We’re going to get a taste of some great competition. This will be a real tough challenge.
“I think our guys are excited about running and testing themselves. That’s what it comes down to, it’s a test to see how you measure up.”
In addition to the national caliber of the field, a pair of SEC schools, Alabama and Mississippi, are ranked 22nd and 28th heading into this meet.
“It’s definitely a one-stop shop,” stated Bucknam. “We’re going to be able to see the two best teams in our conference that we’ll have to go up against, Alabama and Ole Miss, and, of course, the two best teams in the nation, according to the polls, all in one place. It’s going to be a real challenge and we’ll get a chance to scout each other.
“For us, this race is about individual improvement. So, we’re not going to pinpoint any one particular team. We’ll go out, race and be really competitive to see what we’re made of in the last kilometer o6k r that last mile.
The loop course at Apalachee Regional Park is a flat, fast course, which can offer it’s own challenges when compared to recent national championship courses that utilized hills or weather elements as part of the challenge.
“As far as the course is concerned, every course is challenging,” said Bucknam. “This course is about speed and it’s going to be real fast. So, pick your poison right. You either run a lot of hills on a course, or you run the first mile in an incredible pace and it’s going to be tough.
“I want to see what my team is made of, and I want to see if they can compete. I want to see if they can answer a big challenge like this. It’s a practice run for the SEC meet and the national meet.”