NCAA CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS:

UA coaches: Cold good for training

By: Bob Holt
Published: Saturday, November 17, 2018
Arkansas freshman Katrina Robinson runs at the Chile Pepper Festival on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Arkansas Razorbacks
Arkansas freshman Katrina Robinson runs at the Chile Pepper Festival on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The arctic blast that hit Northwest Arkansas earlier this week was ideal timing for the University of Arkansas men's and women's cross country teams.

Training at home in temperatures that dipped below 25 degrees helped prepare the Razorbacks for the conditions they'll face today at the NCAA Championships in Madison, Wis.

At a glance

NCAA CROSS COUNTRY

CHAMPIONSHIPS

WHEN Women’s 6,000 meters race 10:45 a.m. Central today; Men’s race 11:45 a.m.

WHERE Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course, Madison, Wis.

MEN’S TEAM FAVORITES Northern Arizona, BYU, Wisconsin.

WOMEN’S TEAM FAVORITES New Mexico, Oregon, Colorado

DEFENDING CHAMPIONS Men: Northern Arizona. Women: New Mexico

RANKINGS Arkansas women No. 5, Arkansas men No. 17

"Mother Nature has been very good to us in Northwest Arkansas," said Lance Harter, coach of Arkansas' women's team. "I know it's not ideal for the general public or myself, but as far as exposing our crew to the weather they could see in Madison in November, it was perfect."

The temperature for Madison is forecast to be 30 degrees for this morning's races with a wind-chill factor of 22.

"Getting a little taste of the upper Midwest couldn't have come at a better time," Chris Bucknam, coach of the Razorbacks' men's team, said of the bout of cold weather in Fayetteville.

Arkansas' women's team -- ranked No. 5 in the coaches' poll behind New Mexico, Oregon, Colorado and Boise State -- comes into the NCAA meet after lopsided victories at the SEC Championships and South Central Regional.

Harter said the Razorbacks are feeling confident.

"Very much so," he said. "They continue to demonstrate that in their workouts daily and with their attitude.

"It's all been very positive. They've been that way since the very beginning of the season at cross country camp. They were really focused."

Arkansas will be led by Australian freshman Katrina Robinson, junior Taylor Werner and sophomore Lauren Gregory. Robinson saw snow for the first time when an inch fell in Fayetteville this week.

"Her response was, 'It's really beautiful,' " Harter said. "She's so adaptable."

The No. 17 Arkansas men's team will be led by junior Gilbert Boit -- the SEC champion -- and senior Cameron Griffith.

Defending champion Northern Arizona is ranked No. 1 followed by BYU, Wisconsin, Portland and Iowa State.

"I guess everybody is chasing Northern Arizona, but this race is very hard to predict," Bucknam said. "We're not going out with the intention of looking to beat any particular team or whatever. Our goal is to do the very best we can and try and knock off as many teams as our talent allows us to do.

"Our confidence level is high. We have nothing to lose. We're going to see if we can do better than everybody thinks we're going to do."

The Razorbacks won the South Central Regional title after finishing second to Ole Miss at the SEC Championships.

"I think last week was a good sign," Bucknam said. "It was probably the best race that we've had as a team since the season started, and we really were tapping the breaks the whole second half of the race."

Sports on 11/17/2018

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