Cross Country Star Primed for Breakout
With a program as tradition-rich as the Arkansas Razorbacks women’s cross country team, even the most avid of fans may never know who will be the next breakout star. Many of the runners have started off the 2012 season performing at a high level, and junior Rachel Carpino is no exception.
Originally from Lee’s Summit, Mo., Carpino was hooked on the opportunity of running at the University of Arkansas and being a part of a great long-distance tradition.
“It’s basically awesome,” Carpino said about running for the Razorbacks. “I like the feel here. I felt at home. I never even thought that I would run for a place this great.”
From the moment Carpino stepped on campus she was off to the races, placing 14th overall at the 2010 Razorback Invitational as only a freshman. She saw significant running time as a freshman and sophomore, competing in three events in 2011 and posting a time of 15:41 in the 4K that, at the time, was a personal best.
It is not always fun and games for student-athletes, like some may perceive. Carpino has just as much hard work in her studies as she does in her workouts, being named to the Southeastern Conference spring academic honor roll in 2011.
“It’s hard to do well at school and well at running and still get sleep,” said Carpino, a pre-dental major with hopes of being an orthodontist after her running days are over.
Carpino has two top-10 finishes in the first three events of the year, placing eighth overall at the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville and eighth place again at the First to the Finish Southern Stampede in Joplin, Mo., posting a personal record 5K time of 17:56.10. Carpino’s recent performances give indication that she is primed for a breakout season in her junior campaign.
One of the key components of becoming better this season has been improving her form, something head coach Lance Harter has been working on with Carpino. Seconds can be crucial, so good running form can make all the difference.
Carpino and the Razorbacks had their first tough test of the season running at the Greater Louisville Classic. The race was held at Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky., giving the team a preview of the course for the NCAA National Championship, which is held at the same location in November.
The team placed third overall in a race that included seven ranked teams. Carpino finished with a time of 18:13.49, chipping in for an all-around impressive team effort from the Razorbacks.