Fayet­teville to host some mean com­pe­ti­tion

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - By Nate Allen Ra­zor­backs Re­port

FAYET­TEVILLE - The Univer­sity of Arkansas hosts three gate­ways to NCAA cham­pi­onship events Fri­day on its Fayet­teville cam­pus.

The NCAA South

Cen­tral Re­gional Cross Coun­try cham­pi­onships run Fri­day at the UA’S Agri Park. The top two teams in the women’s 6,000-me­ter race at 11 a.m., and the two men’s teams fin­ish­ing their 10,000-me­ter race at noon au­to­mat­i­cally ad­vance to the Nov. 23 NCAA Cross Coun­try Cham­pi­onships in Terre Haute, In­di­ana.

Arkansas Coach Lance Harter’s Ra­zor­backs women, na­tion­ally No.

1 and re­cent SEC cham­pi­ons, and Coach Chris

Buck­nam’s Ra­zor­backs men won last year’s South Cen­tral Re­gional Cross Coun­try meets in Col­lege Sta­tion, Texas.

Fri­day night at 6:30 at Ra­zor­back Field, Arkansas hosts the North Texas Mean Green in the first round of the 64-team NCAA Women’s Soc­cer Tour­na­ment.

Coach Colby Hale’s na­tion­ally No. 6 Ra­zor­backs, the SEC reg­u­lar-sea­son cham­pi­ons and SEC Tour­na­ment run­nerup, take a 16-3-2 over­all record and 8-1-1 SEC record as the No. 3 seed against the Con­fer­ence USA Tour­na­ment cham­pion Mean Green, 15-5-1 and 7-2-1 in Con­fer­ence USA.

The Arkansas vs. North Texas win­ner is seeded in the sec­ond round to play the win­ner of North Carolina State vs. Navy in Provo, Utah, if sec­ond seed Brigham Young de­feats un­der­dog Boise State.

Arkansas would be a sec­ond-round host if it beats North Texas and Provo-based BYU loses to Boise State.

This sea­son Hale’s Ra­zor­backs not only won their first SEC soc­cer cham­pi­onship in school history but also at Ra­zor­back Field in­flicted the lone de­feat suf­fered this sea­son by the na­tion­ally No. 1 seeded 19-1-1 ACC cham­pion North Carolina Tar Heels,

Arkansas beat the Tar Heels 2-0 on Sept. 15.

For his pro­hib­i­tively fa­vored Ra­zor­backs, Harter gave top six run­ners: Tay­lor Werner, Arkansas’ best all year un­til up­set by team­mate and new

SEC cham­pion Katie

Izzo, Devin Clark, Ca­rina Viljoen, Lauren Gre­gory and Maddy Reed the John Mcdon­nell op­tion of rest­ing at district for na­tion­als and count on other team­mates to ad­vance the team.

Mcdon­nell’s men won 10 NCAA Cross Coun­try cham­pi­onships hold­ing a key run­ner or two out of the Re­gional qual­i­fier but Harter’s top six would have none of it.

“The top six all want to run,” Harter said. “That’s their choice. They want to race. How hard they race will be de­ter­mined by the com­pe­ti­tion. And the com­pe­ti­tion we’ve raced be­fore.

And beaten hand­ily in­clud­ing SEC foes Texas

A&M and LSU.

Big 12 run­ner-up Texas likely is the next best team and the Ra­zor­backs need only to place sec­ond to ad­vance to Terre Haute.

“They’re not go­ing to al­low that (fin­ish­ing sec­ond) to hap­pen,” Harter said. “There’s too much pride.”

Arkansas’ men run on the bub­ble. Af­ter a third-place SEC fin­ish, Buck­nam’s men at the South Cen­tral Re­gional are deemed just be­hind Texas but barely ahead of Texas A&M, fourth at the SEC meet, with con­vinc­ing South­land cham­pion La­mar also ex­pected to chal­lenge for a top-two spot.

The Ra­zor­backs likely would be a qual­i­fy­ing since run­ning 2018 SEC cham­pion Gil­bert Boit but they red­shirt Boit “for bet­ter days ahead,” Buck­nam said.

He’s bank­ing on Boit, Matt Young, the cur­rent Arkansas leader in Boit’s ab­sence, and a healthy in 2020 Ryan Mur­phy, 2018 ALL-SEC Cross Coun­try but run­ning un­der form at the 2019 SEC just com­ing back from in­jury, to be the gist of Arkansas strongly con­tend­ing for the 2020 SEC Cross Coun­try crown.

Mean­while ad­vanc­ing to Terre Haute re­mains the 2019 goal for Buck­nam’s men.

“We didn’t have a great race at the con­fer­ence meet so I still think our best race is out there,” Buck­nam said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.