Razorbacks claim 12th consecutive South Central title, 27th overall

FAYETTEVILLE – Razorback Sydney Thorvaldson led Arkansas to a team victory at Agri Park on Friday during the NCAA South Central Region meet. Thorvaldson covered the 6,000m course in 19 minutes, 52.0 seconds as the Razorbacks claimed its 12th consecutive region team title, the 27th overall for Arkansas.

“It was a great day,” said Thorvaldson, who captured the 16th individual title by the Razorbacks. “I think that we all just kind of wanted to go out and group up and kind of prepare ourselves for what we could maybe expect at the national race. Just kind of working with each other and a great confidence booster going into next week.

“I think the race was ultimately very comfortable and really nice to just have a bunch of my teammates surrounding me and being able to run with other for a while. Then it got to the point where we decided that we would kind of make a move and I felt really good.”

With a team score of 36 points, the Razorbacks secured an automatic qualification to the NCAA Championships, which will be held at Panorama Farms in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, November 18.

“They did a fantastic job,” noted Arkansas women’s head coach Chris Johnson. “Kudos to coach Elliott, think she had the girls prepared and ready to go. They ran well and won the region to advance to the national meet.

“The young ladies ran well. We sat one (Paityn Noe) out to get more healthy. Hosting the region meet and having an opportunity to run at home it was good to see the team perform so well.”

Joining Arkansas with an automatic team qualification was Texas A&M, runner-up with 90 points. LSU placed third (129) with Tulane fourth (139), and Texas fifth (143) in a tie-breaker over SMU (143).

The rest of the top 10 teams included Arkansas State (166), UT Arlington (215), TCU (223), and Rice (259).

“Winning the region is one of the things we always want to do,” stated Razorback assistant coach Megan Elliott. “Getting out there and doing it on our home course is always fun with the home crowd.

“We gained a lot of momentum today, especially with Sydney getting the win. That’s a lot of confidence for her moving into the big dance next week.”

Arkansas produced a 1-2-6-10-17 finish among its first five. Following Thorvaldson was Razorback teammate Mia Cockran as runner-up in 20:14.8 while Mary Ellen Eudaly finished sixth in 20:22.5. Laura Taborda crossed the finish line in 20.42.3 to place 10th while Nyah Hernandez rounded out the Razorbacks team score in 17th at 21:03.5.

Also racing for the Razorbacks were Heidi Nielson and Mackenzie Rogers. They placed 20th and 23rd with times of 21:04.1 and 21:04.8.

All seven members of the Arkansas squad earned All-Region honors for placing among the top 25 in a field of 183 runners.

“There are a few tweaks we have to make, get everybody firing on all cylinders,” said Elliott. “We know the national course, so now we just have to go out and execute a good race. It’s what we’ve been training for the whole season.

“With Paityn not racing today it forces somebody to step up that maybe hasn’t been in that team scoring position usually. That was good to have them step up and kind of carry the flag for us. I’m very happy with how our 5-6-7 ran and they were all really close together, within a second of each other. That’s a true testament to our depth.”

Thorvaldson added: “We would have loved to have Paityn out there, we know she would have been right up there too. It’s really nice to see that we can all work together and kind of make up for what we didn’t have today.”

The four athletes advancing to the NCAA Championships not on a qualified team include UT Arlington’s Matro Jepkemboi (3rd, 20:15.8), LSU’s Ella Chesnut (4th, 20:18.4), Arkansas State’s Rahel Broemmel (5th, 20:20.7), and Beth Ramos of Texas (7th, 20:29.1).