Oct. 10, 2007
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Halfway into the season, the men’s and women’s cross country teams head west to Fayetteville, Ark., for this weekend’s Chile Pepper Festival. This weekend’s races will mark the second consecutive meet the Commodores have been outside Music City.
“The cross country course in Arkansas is a dedicated course. They use the fields and roads in and around their agricultural research area. It’s a good course and doesn’t really change from year to year,” said head coach Steve Keith.
The men’s race, scheduled to start at 9:45 a.m. CT, is a 10k meet. In addition to host Arkansas, ranked ninth nationally, other notable participants include LSU, Auburn, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor, Virginia Tech, and Division II powerhouse Abilene Christian.
“It will be their first 10k, so they’re going to run an extra mile and a quarter longer than they have all season,” commented Keith. “I think this will be a good challenge for them. Austin Williamson aught to have a very nice race. I would look for him to run as well or better than he ever has over a 6.2 mile distance. After Austin and Thomas Davis, we’ll try to group up as well as we can with runners three through five. Chris Noel and Rick Semones ran well in the last meet in Louisville. We’re going to need that kind of effort to see the team do as well as possible.”
The women’s 6k race will begin at 10:30 a.m. CT. Like the men’s race, the women’s race will feature competition from more than 40 teams all across the country, including nationally ranked teams Arkansas (#5), Virginia Tech (#19), and Texas Tech (#24). Texas Tech’s top runner, Sally Kipyego, is the defending NCAA National Champion and won four NCAA titles in 2006-2007.
“I want to see Rita Jorgensen and Carmen Mims really throw themselves into this race. I want to see all of the women be more aggressive and trust their fitness,” remarked Keith. “We need to be more aggressive so it’s a familiar feeling once we get to the conference meet. Their training has been excellent. Julie Eckerly is back and is 100% from her injury in the last meet. She only missed a couple of days. If they trust their fitness and keep their heads in the race, they should do pretty well.”
Expect the weather conditions in Arkansas this weekend to be ideal for cross country competition. The temperature is forecasted to be in the 50s.