TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Fifth-ranked Arkansas was challenged by several top teams at the Pre-National Invitational in Terre Haute and came out unscathed, placing second overall in a field which boasted 41 programs from across the country.
“We accomplished both of our goals today,” coach Chris Bucknam said. “Number one, we wanted to preview the course. Our guys haven’t been here in a couple of years and some have never been on it. We wanted to get a feel for it before the NCAA Championship and we certainly accomplished that goal. Number two, we wanted to run a competitive race. I feel despite our continued heavy training load, we ran at a high level today.”
The Razorbacks’ top five, including Frankline Tonui (2), Jack Bruce (12), Alex George (14), Austen Dalquist (29) and Kyle Hosting (53), took control of the race from the gun. Tonui and George advanced with the leaders while Bruce, Dalquist and Hosting closed in with the chase pack.
An All-American last season, Tonui showed veteran strength, making a last-minute surge on the final stretch to outkick Amon Terer of Campbell for the runner-up spot and position Arkansas strongly for a run at a top-team finish.
“Frankline’s been doing that since last year,” Bucknam said. “He has another gear which he didn’t have his first couple years here and he’s developed it through a lot of hard work. He’s emotionally fit in that regard and you combine that with his hard work and you get his killer kick. I’m extremely proud of him. He was really looking forward to racing today and that’s a good sign.”
Closely trailing Tonui, Bruce and George assisted the Razorback efforts each earning recognition as one of the 15 best runners of the day out of 268 entries.
Dalquist and Hosting completed Arkansas’ charge each posting a sub-25-minute performance over the arduous 8K course to finish inside the top 55.
“All of our runners came to this course with a purpose,” Bucknam said. “In particular, Austen [Dalquist] and Alex [George]. When they came here as freshmen, they came away disappointed, but it shows you the type of athletes that they are to refocus, put in a solid effort this time around and bounce back. Kyle Hosting had the best race I’d ever seen him have on a big stage. He was only 58 seconds behind an outstanding lead effort by Frankline which just goes to show you how far Kyle has come and he came through for us. Cameron Griffith has come a long way from last year. He just put a little too much effort too soon to try and catch the lead pack after being boxed up. He just needs to be a little more patient on the course, but he’s in great shape.”
Arkansas senior Aidan Swain and freshman Carter Persyn closed out the day for the Razorbacks, placing third and 53rd, respectively in the 8K open race.
“We got a good second race out of Aidan Swain today,” Bucknam said. “He finished third after being sick all week and not running at all; he ended up finishing top three and putting a fine effort in. We’re back to work starting tomorrow and just getting ourselves ready to host the SEC Championship.”
The 2016 SEC Cross Country Championship will be held in Fayetteville on Friday, Oct. 28 at Agri Park. The men’s 8K race will be contested at 11 a.m. CT.
Top Five Team Results
1. #4 Oregon, 85 (1-4-18-26-36)
2. #5 Arkansas, 110 (2-12-14-29-53)
3. #6 Colorado, 124 (15-24-27-28-30)
4. #20 Michigan, 201 (8-13-49-58-73)
5. #13 Indiana, 257 (31-37-38-51-100)
Arkansas Results (Overall Finishes)
2. Frankline Tonui – 23:56.10
12. Jack Bruce – 24:14.90
14. Alex George – 24:18.80
29. Austen Dalquist – 24:31.80
53. Kyle Hosting – 24:55.00
78. Cameron Griffith – 25:08.30
101. Kyle Levermore – 25:17.80
Arkansas Results (8K Open)
3. Aidan Swain – 25:39.90
53. Carter Persyn – 27:58.10
2016 Cross Country Schedule
Thurs, Sept. 1 – Cowboy Duals (Stillwater, Okla.) | 4th of 6
Fri, Sept. 16 – Battle in Beantown (Boston, Mass.) | 3rd of 15
Sat, Oct. 1 – Chile Pepper Festival (Agri Park) 9:45 a.m. | 1st of 18
Sat, Oct. 15 – Pre-Nationals (Terre Haute, Ind.) 10:35 a.m. | 2nd of 41
Fri, Oct. 28 – SEC Championship (Agri Park) 10:00 a.m.
Fri, Nov. 11 – NCAA South Central Regional (Agri Park) 11:00 a.m.
Sat, Nov. 19 – NCAA Championship (Terre Haute, Ind.) 11:00 a.m.
Bold denotes a home event.