Fayetteville to host some mean competition
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.