Arkansas can't hold off Ole Miss

By: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Published: Saturday, October 27, 2018
Arkansas coach Chris Bucknam talks to runners prior to the start of the Chile Pepper Festival on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas coach Chris Bucknam talks to runners prior to the start of the Chile Pepper Festival on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Fayetteville.

University of Arkansas junior Gilbert Boit took first place at the SEC Cross Championships on Friday in Auburn, Ala., but Ole Miss edged the Razorbacks for the team title.

The Rebels won with 36 points. The Razorbacks, who had won eight consecutive conference titles, were second with 44 points.

MEN’S SEC CROSS CHAMPIONSHIPS TEAM SCORES

  1. Ole Miss 36

2. Arkansas 44

  1. Kentucky 122
  2. Tennessee 132
  3. Missouri 135
  4. Alabama 166
  5. Texas A&M 170
  6. Florida 184
  7. Georgia 190
  8. Auburn 266
  9. Vanderbilt 291
  10. LSU 335

SEC MEN’S INDIVIDUAL FINISHERS

8,000 meters

1. Gilbert Boit, Arkansas, 22:20.13

  1. Alfred Chelanga, Alabama, 22:27.51

3. Cameron Griffith, Arkansas, 22:51.22

  1. Waleed Suliman, Ole Miss, 22:59.36
  2. Ben Young, Kentucky, 23:03.58
  3. Cade Bethman, Ole Miss, 23:05.00
  4. Mario Garcia Romo, Ole Miss, 23:06.96
  5. Farah Abdulkarim, Ole Miss, 23:08.63

9. Ryan Murphy, Arkansas, 23:10.76

  1. Kieran, Missouri, 23:11.45

OTHER ARKANSAS FINSHERS

  1. Ethan Moehn, 23:10.08
  2. Graham Brown, 23:33.2
  3. Colin O’Mara, 23:43.9
  4. Preston Cates, 24:01.0
  5. Matt Young, 24:06.1
  6. Carter Persyn, 24:17.7
  7. Kyle Levermore, 24:29.4

Boit, a transfer from Tennessee Tech running in his first SEC cross country meet, covered the 8,000-meter course at Indian Pines Golf Club in 22:20.13 to win by more than seven seconds.

Alabama senior Alfred Chelanga was second in 22:27.51.

"Gilbert ran phenomenal to win by a considerable margin," Arkansas Coach Chris Bucknam said. "He was on another planet today."

Boit won Arkansas' 15th overall SEC individual cross country title since the Razorbacks joined the conference in 1991 and fourth in the last six years.

Also scoring for Arkansas were senior Cameron Griffith (third, 22:51.22), redshirt freshman Ryan Murphy (ninth, 23:10.76), senior Ethan Moehn, (14th, 23:10.08) and junior Graham Brown (17th, 23:33.2).

Colin O'Mara, a senior from Little Rock Catholic, took 25th for the Razorbacks in 23:43.9.

Ole Miss won by taking five of the top 11 spots, led sophomore Waleed Suliman in fourth at 22:59.36.

It was the first SEC cross country championship for Ole Miss, which began running in the meet in 1967. The first SEC meet was held in 1935.

The Rebels' best finish previously had been second in 1969, 2014 and 2016.

"Hats off to Ole Miss," Bucknam said. "They put five guys in there before our five. They're not a mess-around team. They're a good team and they earned it.

"We're not real deep, so we had a very small margin for error with our top five guys."

Bucknam said he felt good about Arkansas' chances of winning the meet with about 800 meters to go in the race when Arkansas sophomore Matt Young -- normally the Razorbacks' No. 4 runner -- was in the top 10.

But instead of holding that spot, Young faded to finish 43rd in 24:06.1.

"Matt was right where he needed to be, and then it just hit him hard," Bucknam said. "He's a great competitor and a very good athlete, but it just wasn't his day."

Bucknam said Young was ill with the flu earlier this fall.

"Matt maybe is not completely back to 100 percent yet," Bucknam said. "He put it out there. He just couldn't finish that last 800."

Arkansas has won 25 of 28 SEC cross country championships for which it is has competed.

"We have a championship or bust mentality, but we were just a little bit off the mark," Bucknam said. "I was really proud of our team. We competed hard. We'll be back."

Sports on 10/27/2018

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