Razorbacks respond to challenge, finish fourth in NCAA Championships…by Shawn Price

4 weeks ago
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Razorbacks respond to challenge, finish fourth in NCAA Championships

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STILLWATER, Okla. – Facing a stern challenge of competing in two different national championship meets within two days of each other, the Razorbacks rose to the task Monday in placing fourth at the NCAA Cross Country Championships hosted by Oklahoma State on one of the nation’s toughest courses.

Arkansas scored 181 points in the 10,000m race to finish behind Northern Arizona (60), Notre Dame (87), and Oklahoma State (142). The rest of the top 10 included Stanford (194), Tulsa (237), BYU (254), Iowa State (265), Southern Utah (270), and Iona (311).

“I’m so proud of these guys, they never wavered when we talked about running indoor track,” stated Arkansas men’s head coach Chris Bucknam. “Our distance points, whether it was in the SEC Championship or the NCAA meet, they knew they were important to the total team effort.

“To have them come out here on Monday and compete like they did on, arguably, the toughest course you can put together, that I’ve seen in my 40 years of coaching. To have them pull this off and get on the podium is a big win for them. It just shows you how tough they are, and it bodes well for next year. Hopefully, we can make a run at Northern Arizona and the schools that finished in front of us next fall.”

The team score by the Razorbacks is its lowest since 2005 and second-lowest since 2001. In placing fourth, it was the best finish for Arkansas since 2005 when they were the national runner-up. Since then, UA has placed fifth on three occasions, 2006, 2016, and 2017.

“This is one of the toughest competitions in NCAA sports,” noted Bucknam. “You have every type of distance runner competing in this race, whether they’re 1,500m runners, 3k or 5k guys, steeples or 10k. Every one of them is in this race. For us to have three guys get All-American it’s a pretty gutsy effort. I’m very proud of them.”

Arkansas is the current leader for the USTFCCCA John McDonnell men’s program of the year award based on the fourth-place national finish in cross country as well as tying for seventh place in the NCAA Indoor Championships. With 11 points from the two NCAA meets held this past week, the Razorback’s next closest challengers are Iowa State (21), Ole Miss (22), and BYU (23). A team’s finish in the NCAA Outdoor meet will be the third and final tabulation.

Amon Kemboi, leading the Razorback charge, placed 11th among the field of 251 entrants as he clocked 30:14.2. Joining Kemboi in earning All-America honors for a top 40 finish were Luke Meade, who placed 38th in 30:44.9, and Gilbert Boit, finishing 40th in 30:46.3.

“Where Amon was on Friday night after that 5k (at NCAA Indoor), he was in a dark spot, but he never lost confidence,” noted Bucknam. “He rallied in the 3k to finish fourth at the NCAA Indoor meet, and then he was the steady guy and the glue for us today. With his confidence, you knew exactly how he wanted to run the race and how the team wanted to run it.

“Amon’s a stud.”

Completing Arkansas’ top five finishers to tabulate the Razorbacks team score were Jacob McLeod and Emmanuel Cheboson. McLeod ran 31:04.2 to place 57th while Cheboson posted a time of 31:07.7 to finish 63rd.

The sixth and seventh runners for Arkansas were Matt Young, 32:22.4 (164th), and Ryan Murphy, 33:02.1 (207th).

Only 20 of the entrants in the men’s race also competed in the NCAA Indoor Championships hosted by the Razorbacks this past weekend. Of those 20, four were Arkansas distance runners as they covered 66k between them among the two meets.

NCAA Cross Country Championships download: 03_15_21_NCAAXC-MensResults.pdf

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