TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — In its final meet of the regular season, the 12th-ranked Arkansas women’s cross country team posted a top-five team finish at the Pre-National Invitational, besting 37 teams from across the country including No. 7 Stanford, No. 16 Eastern Michigan and No. 22 Virginia.
“We had a great race, our athletes ran really well,” head coach Lance Harter said. “I thought if we could be in the top five [here] we could make a run for a top-10 finish at nationals or higher. When you lose an ace like Dominique Scott, you rework some things and we are operating now with true team running.”
Leading the way once again for the Razorbacks was sophomore Devin Clark who crossed the finish line among the top-10 best individual performers of the day, completing her first 6K of the season in 20 minutes, 20 seconds.
Clark was consistent with her performance in the race from start to finish, maintaining stride with the lead pack, including meet winner Erin Finn (Michigan) through the majority of the competition.
“Devin [Clark] is establishing herself quite well and making a strong case to be a frontrunner at the national level,” Harter said.
Not the sole underclassman making an impact for Arkansas, Clark was joined by freshmen Taylor Werner (27th) and Abby Gray (52nd) inside the top 60 in a field of 284 runners.
Werner set a new 6K PR of 20:44.40 as the only other Razorback to record a sub-21-minute performance at the LaVern Gibson cross country course.
Arkansas’ top five was completed by All-American middle-distance runners Nikki Hiltz (65) and Therese Haiss (74) who completed the race in 21:07.40 and 21:14.20, respectively.
“Taylor Werner has really high goals and she is certainly on schedule,” Harter said. “She ran brilliantly. Abby [Gray] ran with our pack and maybe stayed a little too long but when she took off they all started taking off and making moves and Therese [Haiss] and Nikki [Hiltz] held us on.”
Razorback captain Valerie Reina captured the 6K open race title in 21:32.40. Reina was joined inside the top-10 by Sydney Brown (2), Rachel Nichwitz (5) and Maddy Reed (10).
The Razorbacks compete next on their home course as they host the 2016 SEC Cross Country Championship on Friday, Oct. 28.
Top Five Team Results
1. #2 Colorado, 93 (2-12-17-26-36)
2. #9 Oregon, 154 (6-13-34-48-53)
3. #13 Michigan, 179 (1-22-49-51-56)
4. #5 Portland, 196 (9-28-39-50-70)
5. #12 Arkansas, 225 (7-27-52-65-74)
Arkansas Results (6K Blue Overall Finishes)
7. Devin Clark – 20:20.00
27. Taylor Werner – 20:44.40
52. Abby Gray – 21:01.40
65. Nikki Hiltz – 21:07.40
74. Therese Haiss – 21:14.20
95. Carina Viljoen – 21:22.60
117. Regan Ward – 21:36.90
Arkansas Results (6K Open)
1. Valerie Reina – 21:32.40
2. Sydney Brown – 21:34.90
5. Rachel Nichwitz – 21:44.70
10. Maddy Reed – 22:10.70
2016 Cross Country Schedule
Thurs, Sept. 1 – Cowboy Duals (Stillwater, Okla.) | 1st of 6
Sat, Sept. 17 – Southern Stampede (Joplin, Mo.) | 1st of 2
Sat, Sept. 17 – Riverside Invitational (Riverside, Calif.) | 1st of 20
Sat, Oct. 1 – Chile Pepper Festival (Agri Park) 10:20 a.m. | 1st of 18
Sat, Oct. 15 – Pre-Nationals (Terre Haute, Ind.) 10:00 a.m. | 5th of 42
Fri, Oct. 28 – SEC Championship (Agri Park) 11:00 a.m.
Fri, Nov. 11 – NCAA South Central Regional (Agri Park) 10:00 a.m.
Sat, Nov. 19 – NCAA Championship (Terre Haute, Ind.) 10:00 a.m.
Bold denotes a home event.