No. 7 Razorbacks host South Central Region, aim for NCAA Championship berth

FAYETTEVILLE – No. 7 Arkansas hosts the NCAA South Central Region meet at Agri Park on Friday and the Razorbacks compete over a 10,000m distance with a start time of 11:30 a.m. Arkansas has claimed 39 South Central team titles dating back 1976, and since 2000 the Razorbacks have won 17 times.

Admission and parking for the NCAA South Central Region meet is free. Live results will be available at this link:

“We have a great cross country course here in Fayetteville,” noted Arkansas men’s head coach Chris Bucknam. “The University of Arkansas course is really good. The footing is outstanding. It’s a dedicated place to run.

“I’m glad we’re at home on our home course and our guys are around familiar surroundings. We don’t have to go through airports and those types of things. I think that’s a big advantage for us, being able to stay home. Especially since the NCAA Championship is just seven days after we race on Friday.”

With nine region meets being held on the same day, the top two teams from each region will earn automatic qualification to the NCAA Championships, which will be held on Saturday, November 18, at Panorama Farms and hosted by the University of Virginia.

The remaining 13 at-large teams will be determined based on a points system from season-long competitions. The top four individuals not on a team advancing also qualify for the national meet.

“Our goal is to finish in the top two and automatically qualify,” said Bucknam. “It will be us and Texas and a few other schools we have to worry about.

“We’ll put a line-up together that hopefully can accomplish that goal. We have a good group of guys with a lot of depth this season. I haven’t quite decided on the line-up yet, but we’re getting pretty close to it.”

Arkansas has won the South Central meet seven of the past nine encounters, including last season in College Station with Razorback Patrick Kiprop claiming the individual title as the Hogs bettered the Longhorns, 49-55.

“I think that we are feeling good going into the regional meet,” noted Kiprop. “We are on the same page as a team compared to one month ago. So, I think we are ready to qualify for nationals.

“Running on our home course is good. Without traveling, we get an extra day to relax and prepare for the meet. We’ve been running on the course for several days and it’s something we know.”

Texas, who won the region in 2019 and 2021, enters the South Central meet ranked No. 9 nationally and second in the region behind the Razorbacks. The Longhorns recently finished third in the Big 12 conference meet.

Last season, Texas finished as runner-up to the Hogs for the seventh time in the last nine region meets held. The top returning Longhorns from the 2022 race are Isaac Alonzo and Haftu Knight, who placed second and fifth.

Over the past 22 region meets, the Razorbacks and Longhorns have claimed the pair of automatic spots 18 times from the South Central Region, with Arkansas holding a 15-3 advantage in placing first with Texas runner-up.

Tulane, fifth a year ago, ranks third in the South Central this season and they placed third in the American Athletic Conference. Texas A&M finished third in 2022 and they enter this year’s meet ranked fourth, having recently finished fourth in the SEC Championships. Southland league champion Texas A&M-Corpus Christi enters the meet ranked fifth in the South Central Region.

In addition to Kiprop, Razorbacks who raced in the South Central meet a year ago include Elias Schreml and Jacob McLeod, who finished third and fourth. Myles Richter placed 16th while Josh Shearer finished 40th.

Teams are limited to seven runners in the region meet. Coach Bucknam will select from a group of 11 to determine the seven representing Arkansas in the South Central race.

Additional Razorbacks to select from include Lexington Hilton, Reuben Reina, Tommy Romanow, Ben Shearer, Jack Williams, and Kirami Yego.

“On Friday it’s not necessarily a race to win, it’s a race to qualify and get to the national meet,” stated Kiprop. “We will take it like an easy race, but we don’t have to let other people beat us. We’ll conserve our energy for the NCAA Championships.”

Arkansas is undefeated in team competitions this season with major victories coming in the Pre-Nationals hosted on the NCAA course in Virginia along with reclaiming the SEC league title. The group effort has impressed Bucknam.

“I’ve enjoyed just watching this group develop into a really national caliber and contending program,” stated Bucknam. “We were ranked 22nd and 21st when the season started and now we’re ranked seventh.

“I think that is a tribute to their talent and hard work they’ve put in as well as the dedication they have. So, I’m just really proud of their effort. Now we have to live up to what the poll says and we always try to be a little bit better than what people think we are.”

NCAA South Central Region | Rankings

  1. Arkansas, 2. Texas, 3. Tulane, 4. Texas A&M, 5. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 6. Incarnate Word, 7. Arkansas State, 8. Rice, 9. Little Rock, 10. McNeese State, 11. Sam Houston State, 12. New Orleans, 13. North Texas, 14. Houston, 15. TCU.

 NCAA South Central Region | Arkansas Individual Winners (22)

2022 – Patrick Kiprop, 2014 – Stanley Kebenei, 2013 – Stanley Kebenei, 2009 – Dorian Ulrey, 2004 – Josphat Boit, 2002 – Alistair Cragg, 1999 – Michael Power, 1998 – Michael Power, 1997 – Ryan Wilson, 1996 – Godfrey Siamusiye, 1995 – Godfrey Siamusiye, 1994 – Jason Bunston, 1993 – Niall Bruton, 1992 – David Welsh, 1991 – Eric Henry, 1990 – Eric Henry, 1989 – Reuben Reina, 1985 – Chris Zinn, 1984 – Roland Reina, 1982 – Tony Leonard, 1980 – David Taylor, 1978 – Mark Muggleton.

NCAA South Central Region | Men’s Team Finish

Year First Pts Second Pts Third Pts Host
2022 Arkansas 49 Texas 55 Texas A&M 108 College Station
2021 Texas 35 Arkansas 39 Arkansas St. 166 Waco
2020 not held            
2019 Texas 39 Arkansas 67 Texas A&M 128 Fayetteville
2018 Arkansas 59 Texas 76 Texas A&M 135 College Station
2017 Arkansas 59 Texas 73 Texas A&M 98 College Station
2016 Arkansas 40 Texas 81 UT Arlington 135 Fayetteville
2015 Arkansas 51 Texas 69 Texas A&M 85 College Station
2014 Arkansas 42 Texas 51 Lamar 106 Fayetteville
2013 Arkansas 34 Texas 37 Lamar 110 Waco
2012 Texas 38 Arkansas 53 Texas A&M 93 Fayetteville
2011 Texas 40 Texas A&M 56 Arkansas 65 Waco
2010 Arkansas 30 Texas 66 Lamar 102 Waco
2009 Arkansas 47 Texas 74 Lamar 83 Waco
2008 Texas A&M 39 Arkansas 44 Lamar 74 Waco
2007 Arkansas 37 Texas 52 Texas A&M 101 Fayetteville
2006 Arkansas 24 Texas 51 Lamar 96 Waco
2005 Arkansas 33 Texas 46 Texas A&M 128 Waco
2004 Arkansas 34 Texas 51 Rice 65 Waco
2003 Arkansas 54 Texas A&M 73 SFA 77 Waco
2002 Arkansas 47 SMU 49 Texas A&M 91 Waco
2001 Arkansas 56 Texas 115 Tulane 125 College Station
2000 Arkansas 45 Texas 91 Baylor 141 Denton