Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Razorback cross country schedule minus Chile Pepper for first time in over 30 years
Arkansas' Gilbert Boit leads the pack during the Chile Pepper Festival on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE College cross country teams, including the host Arkansas Razorbacks, will not run in this year’s Chile Pepper Festival.
Arkansas’ men and women have competed in the Chile Pepper since its inception in 1989, but this year’s Chile Pepper will be comprised of only high school teams from four Northwest Arkansas counties. The Chile Pepper is held annually on the Razorbacks' home course in Fayetteville.
“We are not competing at Chile Pepper this year, but we plan on being back in 2021 with a great team and ready to compete in one of the best cross country meets in the country,” Arkansas men’s coach Chris Bucknam said.
The Razorbacks released their modified 2020 cross country schedule Friday. Arkansas’ men and women will both run in events at LSU on Sept. 19 and at Texas A&M on Oct. 17, and the women will also run at Missouri on Oct. 3, the same day as the Chile Pepper.
Last week the SEC announced guidelines for the season that stated teams can compete in up to three meets, plus the SEC championship meet that is scheduled for Oct. 30 in Baton Rouge, La. There will be no NCAA championship for the sport this year.
Arkansas’ women are the reigning NCAA champions and have won six consecutive SEC championships. The Razorbacks’ men are an annual favorite at the conference meet.
Arkansas women’s coach Lance Harter said the three regular-season meets will serve as a build up to the “summit” conference meet.
“Everybody gets fired up for an SEC Championship,” Harter said.
Organizers for the Chile Pepper Festival wrote on their website that safety was behind their decision to limit this year’s race. In addition to no college teams, there will be no open-registration races for local runners.
“Our usual size of 6,500 runners and that many spectators is just not feasible for 2020,” organizers wrote.
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