Story By SHAWN PRICE – Arkansas Athletics Photo
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Krissy Gear claimed her first collegiate cross country title while leading the Arkansas Razorbacks to a team victory in the 33rd annual Chile Pepper Festival held at Argi Park on Friday.
Gear covered the 5,000m distance in a time of 16 minutes, 24.3 seconds to claim the win by 26.2 seconds over LSU’s Katy-Ann McDonald (16:50.5) and Nebraska’s Erika Freyhof (16:52.1) along with the field of 322 finishers.
“I was super elated to finish the race since I did not finish last week in Oregon,” stated Gear, who has been runner-up once and third on three occasions during her collegiate cross country career at Furman and Arkansas. “A big emphasis was to just finish the race, no matter how it goes.
“It was encouraging to win, and I look forward to carrying that momentum through the rest of the season. With the team here, the atmosphere and camaraderie, as well as the energy everyone brings every day, I wanted to positively contribute to that.”
Arkansas scored 45 points off a 1-7-8-11-18 team finish to place first over Tulsa (132), Augustana (185), Nebraska (187) and LSU (191). A total of 37 teams scored in the meet. Other schools among the top 10 included Colorado School of Mines (205), CSU Pueblo (206), Arkansas State (255), Western Colorado (267), and Long Beach State (311).
“They were in great position as they were coming into the finishing stretch,” noted Razorback women’s head coach Lance Harter. “We always try to take great pride in making sure we finish strong.
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“The goal was to get some exposure for members of our team who didn’t race in Oregon. The one’s who did race in Oregon got a chance to race in front of our home crowd. Now it gives us an opportunity to figure out who is really going to be in our top seven or top 12 for conference.”
Following Gear among the Razorback crew were Gracie Hyde and Carmie Prinsloo, placing seventh and eighth, respectively.
This was the sixth race on the Agri Park course for Hyde, who ran on the course in high school and while at Central Arkansas. Wearing the Arkansas uniform while racing the familiar course produced a time of 17:09.7 for Hyde, her best effort at Agri Park.
“It was a good confidence boost, but more than anything I was proud of how the team was able to race together,” said Hyde. “We didn’t race our full squad today, so it was nice to be able to step up and contribute. It shows our depth and how talented our team is.”
Prinsloo, a freshman from South Africa, clocked a time of 17:14.5 in her debut race on the course after getting practice time at Agri Park this past month. Prinsloo finished as the top freshman in the field.
Through the first mile, Gear (5:23) was a stride behind Mercy Biwott of Iowa Western (5:22), with Hyde (5:24) and Prinsloo (5:25) among the lead pack in third and fourth place.
The next split, at 3.5k, had Gear leading the pack by eight seconds with a split of 11:52. Trailing Gear at that point were Freyhof (12:00), McDonald (12:05), and Pauline Meyer of Arkansas State (12:11). Hyde (12:13) and Prinsloo (12:16) were stationed in fifth and seventh place at that stage of the race.
Rounding out the Arkansas team score were Corie Smith, who placed 11th in 17:18.8, and Julia Paternain, finishing 18th in 17:27.0. Logan Jolly was the sixth Razorback as she finished 23rd with a time of 17:30.2 while London Culbreath claimed the seventh position for Arkansas, placing 26th in 17:33.1.
Also racing for the Razorbacks were Josie Carson (81st, 18:20.3) and Quinn Owen (82nd, 18:20.5).
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