Van Camp wins Chile Pepper 4 years after high school title

By: Bob Holt Bob Holt's Twitter account
Published: Saturday, October 1, 2022
Arkansas' Isabel Van Camp (left) races former Razorback Lauren Gregory during the Chile Pepper Festival on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Fayetteville.
( Shawn Price, Arkansas Athletics )
Arkansas' Isabel Van Camp (left) races former Razorback Lauren Gregory during the Chile Pepper Festival on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Four years after University of Arkansas junior Isabel Van Camp won the Chile Pepper Racing Festival’s high school division as a senior at Keller, Texas, she won the collegiate title Friday at the UA’s Agri Park course.

“It feels really special,” Van Camp said after winning the 5,000-meter race in 15 minutes, 58 seconds to set a meet record. “It’s a nice full circle moment.”

Van Camp is a three-time All-American.

“I know I made the right choice,” she said of signing with Arkansas. “I think my life would have taken a very different trajectory if I hadn’t had the opportunity to come here.

“I’m very, very grateful. This is a very special place to be.”

The No. 13-ranked Razorbacks won the women’s team title with 27 points as freshmen Sydney Thorvaldson (fourth in 16:32) and Mia Cochran (sixth in 16:36.7), sophomore Taylor Ewert (12th in 16:57) and freshman Mary Ellen Eudaly (14th in 16:58) also scored.

Southern Mississippi was second in the field of 31 teams with 127 points.

“Team-wise, I think it went right according to script,” Arkansas women’s Coach Lance Harter said. “We couldn’t ask for anything more.”

The No. 16 Arkansas men also won the team title with 61 points. Colby (Kan.) Community College was second among the 32 teams with 149 points.

Colby sophomore Sanele Masondo won the 8,000-meter race in 23:18.4 with Arkansas sophomore Patrick Kiprop second in 23:24.6.

Razorbacks junior Lexington Hilton, running unattached, was third in 23:29.7. Hilton, a transfer from Arkansas State, will be eligible to compete for Arkansas during the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons.

Also scoring for the Razorbacks were freshman Ben Shearer (sixth in 23:49), senior Jacob McLeod (13th in 24:06.8), and juniors Myles Richter (19th in 24:23.6) and Josh Shearer (29th in 24:31.6).

“I was pleased with our effort across the board,” Arkansas men’s Coach Chris Bucknam said. “Everybody looked like they put in a championship style effort.

“We only have so many of these meets — you can count them on one hand for the season — and they’re all important in different ways.

“We just needed to get our feet wet with the racing and really run hard over the 8K and just see where our fitness is.”

Bucknam said Kiprop’s training has been limited because of a sore hip.

“Patrick’s only had one or two hard workouts,” Bucknam said. “So he’s not 100% in any way, shape or form. But it was good to see him out there racing.”

Lauren Gregory, an Arkansas All-American who has exhausted her cross country eligibility but will compete for the Razorbacks during the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons, took second Friday running unattached. She ran with Van Camp the entire race and finished in 15:58.02.

“Isabel crushed it, especially because of where they’re at in training right now,” Gregory said. “To be able to spin the legs on a fast course after Stillwater last week, she was super strong. I’m really proud of her.”

Van Camp finished 10th last Saturday at the Oklahoma State Jamboree in a race that featured 223 runners and 13 nationally-ranked teams.

“How Isabel ran [Friday] is a tribute to her fitness and also her motivation after her performance last week,” Harter said. “She was not happy with it and she was going to try to make sure it was rectified.

“She ran really, really solid last week against a bunch of the nation’s best. But she was 10th, and she’s not happy with that.”

Van Camp said she wasn’t satisfied with her race at Oklahoma State.

“I felt there was more to show on that day for the work I had done,” she said. “It’s still early in the season and there’s still a lot of work to be put in.”

Van Camp said running with Gregory on Friday felt comfortable after they’ve been side by side in so many practices and races.

“We wanted to go out and try to make it hurt and see what we could do,” Van Camp said. “We didn’t really a whole lot of expectations on time. Our approach was to have a good time and race, and the results will come.”

Van Camp said that after she took a recruiting visit to Arkansas with her father, Eric, they both had a good feeling she would be a Razorback.

“We were driving home and I remember my dad saying, ‘I’m pretty sure this is the place,’ ” Van Camp said. “I said, ‘Yeah, I think so, too.’ ”

Van Camp said among the other recruiting visits she took was to Texas, but she didn’t give the Longhorns a lot of consideration.

“My dad played football at Oklahoma,” Van Camp said. “So we weren’t Texas fans growing up.”


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