NCAA SOUTH CENTRAL REGIONAL CROSS COUNTRY:

Arkansas men, women eye spot in NCAA meet

By: Bob Holt
Published: Friday, November 11, 2016
Arkansas coach Lance Harter, left, talks with sophomore Devin Clark prior to the start of the SEC Cross Country Championship on Friday, Oct. 28, 2016, in Fayetteville.
Photo by David Gottschalk
Arkansas coach Lance Harter, left, talks with sophomore Devin Clark prior to the start of the SEC Cross Country Championship on Friday, Oct. 28, 2016, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Two weeks after Arkansas' men's and women's teams won SEC cross country championships at home, the Razorbacks will try for another sweep today at the NCAA South Central Regional.

The top two teams at the regional automatically advance to the NCAA meet Nov. 19 in Terre Haute, Ind.

At a glance

WHEN Today. Women’s 6,000-meter race at 11 a.m. Men’s 10,000-meter race at noon

WHERE Agri Park course, Fayetteville

ADMISSION Free

DEFENDING REGIONAL CHAMPIONS Arkansas (men and women)

FAVORED TO ADVANCE TO NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS Arkansas, Texas for men; Arkansas, SMU for women

NCAA CHAMP. MEET Nov. 19, Terre Haute, Ind.

MEN’S TEAMS COMPETING Arkansas, Arkansas State, UALR, Baylor, Houston, Houston Baptist, Lamar, Louisiana Tech, LSU, McNeese St., New Orleans, Nicholls S., N. Texas, Prairie View, Rice, Sam Houston St., Stephen F. Austin, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas A&M-CC, Texas St., Tulane, La.-Lafayette, La.-Monroe, Texas-Arlington, Texas-Rio Grand Valley, Texas-San Antonio

WOMEN’S TEAMS COMPETING Arkansas, Arkansas State, Baylor, UCA, Houston, Houston Baptist, Lamar, Louisiana Tech, LSU, McNeese State, North Texas, Rice, Sam Houston State, SMU, S.F. Austin, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas A&M-CC, TCU, Tulane, La.-Lafayette, La.-Monroe, Texas-Arlington, Texas-Rio Grande Valley, UTSA

"We definitely want to make sure the ticket gets us to the national meet, be it first or second," Arkansas women's Coach Lance Harter said. "But we have a string going right now of domination in the regionals and we'd like to preserve that."

Arkansas' No. 7-ranked women's team has won five consecutive regional titles and 20 overall. The No. 6-ranked Arkansas men's team has won three consecutive regional titles and 35 overall.

"You look at it as a qualifying round in track and field," Razorbacks men's Coach Chris Bucknam said of the regional. "So how much energy do you want to expend to make the final? Obviously enough to make the final, but you don't want to overdo it.

"The problem with cross country is it's a 30-minute qualifying, not 120 seconds. A lot can happen in 30 minutes out on the race course.

"We just have to stay on task and make sure we stay focused and don't get distracted."

The women's 6,000-meter race will start at 11 a.m. at the Agri Park course. The men's 10,000-meter race will start at noon.

Arkansas' women's lineup will be led by sophomore Devin Clark, who finished second at the SEC meet, and include seniors Valerie Reina and Regan Ward, sophomore Sydney Brown and freshmen Taylor Werner, Abby Gray and Carina Viljoen.

"We know the course inside out," Harter said. "Each individual has a specific race plan, so they know where the markers are, they know where they need to take care of business and know where a challenge could occur."

Junior Alex George, the SEC champion, will lead Arkansas' men's lineup that will include seniors Frankline Tonui and Adian Swain, junior Jack Bruce, sophomore Patrick Ronoh and freshman Carter Persyn.

The men have been running races of 8,000 meters during the season, but will be going 2,000 longer at the regional and NCAA meets.

"We have to manage it," Bucknam said. "That's the system we've got.

"We want to qualify and hopefully -- not to disrespect other programs and other athletes -- do it without really going to the well and save our energy for eight days later."

Sports on 11/11/2016

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