Arkansas’ men, women cruise into NCAA meet

By: The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Published: Saturday, November 10, 2012
Arkansas senior Eric Fernandez finished eighth in the NCAA South Central Regional on Friday in 30 minutes, 19.8 seconds to help the Razorbacks advance to the NCAA Championships.
ANDY SHUPE
Arkansas senior Eric Fernandez finished eighth in the NCAA South Central Regional on Friday in 30 minutes, 19.8 seconds to help the Razorbacks advance to the NCAA Championships.

— Arkansas’ cross country teams didn’t leave it up to anyone else Friday at the NCAA South Central Regional meet at the UA’s Agri Park course.

Both the men’s and women’s teams finished among the top two in their respective divisions to earn automatic berths in the NCAA Championships, which will be held Nov. 17 in Louisville, Ky. Arkansas men’s team finished second to Texas, while the Razorbacks’ women’s team won its second consecutive regional title.

Texas placed four runners among the top 10 finishers and finished with 38 points.Arkansas was right behind the Longhorns, with three runners among the top 10 to finish with 53 points

“It was another nervy meet with a lot on the line today, but our kids did a great job,” Arkansas men’s Coach Chris Bucknam said. “Our goal going into every meet is to win, but with this one we just wanted to finish in the top two to get the automatic qualifying position.”

Kemoy Campbell paced the Razorbacks, covering the 10,000-meter course in 29 minutes, 43 seconds to finish third. He was followed by Solomon Haile (30:07.5) in fifth place and Fernandez (30:19.8) in eighth.

Layne Nixon finished 14th in 30:47.5, while David Flynn (31:24.3) finished 23rd. Cameron Efurd finished 41st in 32:13.8.

“Our goal today was to come in and qualify for nationals,” Campbell said. “I think the guys did a great job of executing the plan.

“This was my first 10K and I feel like I ran well. I’m looking forward to the NCAA meet, but I know it’s going to be a tough race.”

Texas A&M’s Henry Lelei followed up his victory at the SEC Championship by winning the regional title as well. Lelei finished in 29:36.5 to lead Texas A&M to a third-place finish. David Rooney of Mc-Neese State was runner-up in 29:41.4.

Arkansas’ women’s team placed five runners among the top 15 to earn the 17th regional title in the program’s history with 44 points.

The Razorbacks were paced by top-five finishes from Semehar Tesfaye and Grace Heymsfield. Tesfaye covered the 6,000-meter course in 20:54.4 to finish third, andHeymsfield was right behind her in fourth with a time of 20:55.0.

Arkansas’ top-five runners were rounded out by Diane Robison in 10th (21:15.7), Jessica Kamilos in 12th (21:23.5) and Paige Johnston in 15th (21:32.2). Shannon Klenkewas 22nd (21:49.0) and Kaitlin Flattmann was 39th (22:21.7).

“We held out two of our top five, and we will try to put them back into the lineup for the national meet,” Arkansas Coach Lance Harter said. “This year, for the first time, our regional championship and our national championship are only seven days apart, so we want to make sure that everyone is ultimately 100 percent for the nationals.”

Texas’ Marielle Hall won the individual women’s title in 20:30.7 and teammate Sara Sutherland was the runner-up in 20:35.3 as the Longhorns finished second. Texas A&M was third with 140 points.

Sports, Pages 30 on 11/10/2012

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