Headline: Razorback cross country team captures NCAA Championship
Cutline: Razorback women’s cross-country team captures NCAA Championship (Special to The Commercial)
TERRE HAUTE, Ind.– For the first time in program history, head coach Lance Harter and the top-ranked women’s cross country team have captured the NCAA Cross Country title.
The Razorbacks won by six points, finishing with 96 after a third-place mark by Katie Izzo at 19:59.3. She was followed closely by Taylor Werner, who posted a fourth-place time at 20:11.1. Devin Clark (21st) and Carina Viljoen (28th) rounded out Arkansas All-America honorees with times of 20:32.2 and 20:39.8, respectively, while Lauren Gregory completed Arkansas’ scoring unit with a time of 21:05.0.
“This is the crowning achievement,” Harter said. “They just followed the race plan perfectly. This is always a treasure for a coach because most of the time they don’t listen, but they did at the regional meet and carried it to the national meet.
“I knew we were going to finish strong. Katie and Taylor are both just so tough if someone is going to get by them, they have to be extra special. Devin and Carina have good leg speed, so once they have to start matching people, usually nine times out of 10 the result will be positive. The one that really did a fantastic job and sacrificed her redshirt season for this team was Lauren. Once she said, ‘Hey we’re going to go for it,’ it just made everyone accountable.”
Four times an NCAA Runner-up (‘91, ‘92, ‘93, ‘99), the Razorbacks are a bridesmaid no more as the NCAA Cross Country Championship, the first in program history, caps a perfect season for Arkansas that saw the Razorbacks win every meet they competed in including an unprecedented seventh-straight SEC title, a ninth-straight regional title - posting a perfect score - and capturing the elusive NCAA cross country team title.
The title completes the puzzle for Arkansas who became only the second program in NCAA history to win all six championships (men’s cross country, women’s cross country, men’s indoor, women’s indoor, men’s outdoor, women’s outdoor) joining the University of Oregon.
It is the fifth overall women’s national championship, contributing to the track program’s 47 overall national titles.
“2019 will always be prominent in my household,” Harter said. “The track team did such a tremendous job to pull off the upset indoors, then wait until the mile relay to pull off the upset outdoors. We had two of the steps, now it was about taking the third. This is really special. I was really appreciate of my peers. I think they knew this was going to be one of those years in my career that we could maybe scare some people and try to get back on the podium. And that’s what we always talk about - get on the podium and it’ll sort itself out.”
It marked the first time since 1993 Arkansas has had four All-Americans, which is awarded to the top 40 finishers in the national championship race. Taylor Werner became the 10th Razorback to earn at least two All-American honors in cross country over her career.
With the win, Arkansas is only the second NCAA women’s team to accomplish the three-season triple crown, joining the University of Texas women who did it in 1986 (the University of Oregon also did an academic-year sweep of cross country, indoor and outdoor in 2016/17).
Katie Izzo (19:59.3 - 3rd)
Taylor Werner (20:11.1 - 4th)
Devin Clark (20:32.2 - 21st)
Carina Viljoen (20:39.8 - 28th)