At the NCAA South Central Regional on Friday at College Station, Texas, the Arkansas men’s cross country team won its sixth consecutive regional title and 38th overall, and the UA women won an eighth regional title in a row and their 23rd overall.
University of Arkansas men’s cross country coach Chris Bucknam did a good enough job preparing his team that the Razorbacks won the NCAA South Central Regional in College Station, Texas, on Friday morning, with him staying in his hotel room because of a stomach virus.
“It’s the second meet I’ve missed in 40 years of coaching,” Bucknam said later in the day while waiting to fly home. “The first one was when my daughter, Kate, was born in 1993.”
The No. 19-ranked Razorbacks won their sixth consecutive regional title and 38th overall with 59 points to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships on Nov. 17 in Madison, Wis.
Arkansas’ No. 5 women’s team won its eighth consecutive regional title and 23rd overall with 21 points to advance to the NCAA Championships.
Texas finished second in both races with the men scoring 76 points and the women 99 to also qualify for the national meet.
Junior Gilbert Boit, who won the SEC championship, finished fifth at the regional and ran the 10,000-meter course in 31:43.8 to lead the Arkansas men.
All seven of the Razorbacks’ entrants finished in the top 25, including Cameron Griffith taking 11th and Ryan Murphy 12th.
With Bucknam falling ill, volunteer coach Cale Wallace, a former Razorbacks All-American, took over coaching duties at Friday’s meet.
“Cale did a phenomenal job of taking to the guys and getting it done,” Bucknam said. “The kid can coach.”
Bucknam also praised his runners for their preparation and maturity.
“We’ve got a great culture with our guys,” he said. “They’ve competed in a lot of big meets and they know what it takes.”
Bucknam said Boit led for much of the race, but didn’t push it the final 1,000 meters because the Razorbacks already were assured of finishing among the two teams to qualify for nationals.
Lamar senior Jamie Crowe won in 31:36.3.
“We just tried to run hard enough to make sure we were in one of the top two positions, and our guys did a great job with that,” Bucknam said. “We didn’t have to go to the well, which was good, because we have to be really dialed in a week from now for nationals.
“This was probably the best race we’ve put together so far this season even though we didn’t have to go to the limit. Hopefully that’s a good sign for next Saturday.”
Arkansas freshman Katrina Robinson won the women’s 6,000-meter race in 20:23.3.
“That was real nice for Katrina to get the title,” Arkansas women’s Coach Lance Carter said. “She made a move with about 1,000 meters to go, and she made it look effortless.”
The Razorbacks took the top four places with Taylor Werner second, Lauren Gregory third and Carina Viljoen fourth. All seven of their entrants finished in the top 14.
The University of Central Arkansas’ men’s team finished 10th with 260 points and the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff was 24th with 709.
Arkansas State University’s women’s team was 11th with 319 points and the University of Arkansas-Little Rock was 18th with 470.