Cross Country Opens Season Saturday
Arkansas’ cross country teams will welcome Missouri Southern Friday for the season-opening Arkansas Invitational.
The women’s team was picked second in the regional polls as well as in the SEC coaches’ poll.
“I think those two are fairly accurate,” women’s coach Lance Harter said. “The national poll, I think that’s something that should be earned.”
The team finished second in the 2010 SEC Cross Country Championship and third in the regional meet.
Returning runners include Stephanie Brown, Kristin Gillipsie and Grace Hemsfield, but 12 new runners join them in 2011. Harter isn’t planning n having all the newcomers run, but is hoping those that do work together as a team.
“I think this weekend is going to be a total team effort. I hope it is five people running side-by-side,” Harter said. “Definitely the emphasis is on team this week so I think that there will be some people with less than 100 percent effort and some doing everything to stay in that group.”
In the 2010 Arkansas Invitational, nine Razorbacks finished in the top 14.
While the women’s team is using this as a preview for the season, men’s coach Chris Bucknam is treating this like any other regular season meet.
Arkansas’ men’s team was picked first in the preseason coaches’ poll and regional poll after winning both the 2010 SEC Cross Country Championship and the South Central Regional meet.
“We only have six meets on the schedule so you have to take advantage of every learning opportunity to teach these kids that every time we step on the line we want a season’s best performance,” Bucknam said.
The whole team will be racing with the exception of newcomer Anthony Lieghio and junior Solomon Haile, who is still recovering from a knee surgery to repair his meniscus.
The 2011 team is a veteran loaded squad outside of true freshman Patrick Rono.
Rono is a New Jersey state champion and competed in the 2010 Foot Locker National Meet. Lieghio is the NCJAA winner in the 800 and 1,000 meters and recently competed in the U-23 European championships.
The big question for the team is who is going to take Dorian Ulrey’s role as team leader.
“We’ll find out,” Bucknam said. “We don’t know. There might be a newcomer in there that might step up and be that leader. That leader has to be someone that loves to compete, loves to test themselves, loves to be evaluated and does something every single day in practice that exemplifies being a trophy winner like Dorian was.”
The women begin their competition first at 6 pm, followed by the men starting at 6:30.