JONESBORO, Ark. (8/7/14) – Seven regular-season meets highlight the 2014 season schedule for the Arkansas State University men’s and women’s cross country teams in an announcement made this Thursday (Aug. 7) by head coach Jim Patchell and cross country coach Kyle Chandler.
Arkansas State begins its 2014 season Saturday, Aug. 30, as the Red Wolves compete in the Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic in Memphis, Tenn. Christian Brothers University will host the annual meet at the Mike Rose Complex.
“We’re looking forward to starting off our season with the Memphis Twilight, which is one of the largest cross country races after sunset under the lights,” said Chandler.
After a week off from competition, A-State returns to action Sept. 12 to run in Saint Louis University’s Forest Park Cross Country Festival Meet in St. Louis, Mo. The women will run a 5K and the men’s race is a 6K distance. The Red Wolves conclude the month's action Sept. 27 by running in the Rhodes College Invitational at Memphis, Tenn., as the women course is a 6K and the men’s an 8K event.
The Red Wolves begin October action at the 26th annual Chile Pepper Festival in Fayetteville, Ark., on Oct. 4. A-State returns to the Chile Pepper Festival following a year’s absence as the Red Wolves participate in a 5K for the women and 8K for the men at the Agri Park Cross Country Course.
A-State will split up its harriers for a pair of meets on Oct. 18, in Indiana and Arkansas. Both the top women’s and men’s team runners will travel to Terre Haute, Ind., for the Indiana State Pre-National Invitational on the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center with over 100 top Division I schools participating in the meet. The course will serve as the site for the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Cross County Championships to be held Nov. 22. The remaining team members will participate in the Arkansas-Little Rock (UALR) Invite in Little Rock, Ark. The UALR Invitational will feature a 5K distance for the women and 8K for the men.
Following the regular-season finale meet, the Red Wolves will gear up for the Sun Belt Conference (SBC) Championships to be held Nov. 2 at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. The women’s team seeks to defend its first-ever conference title won at last year’s league meet while the men’s squad will look to improve upon its fourth-place showing.
“The conference course in Mobile is flat compared to the challenging and hilly course at last year’s conference meet in Troy (Ala.),” said Chandler, the 2013 SBC Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year Award recipient. “It will be fun to watch how this year’s conference meet compares to last year’s.”
The NCAA South Central Regional is set for Nov. 14 in Fayetteville, Ark., at the Agri Park Cross Country Course. The top two teams along with a select number of individuals selected through an automatic qualifier and at-large selection process qualify for the national meet.
Expectations for both A-State teams this fall are high following last season’s achievements. The women’s squad not only won their first conference title, but also turned in the program’s highest regional championship meet finish with an eighth-place performance. On the men’s side, the Red Wolves produced a fourth-place effort at the conference meet to tie for the program’s highest finish and also earned a trip to regionals.
The women’s team returns all but one runner from last year’s conference championship team. Senior Rexi Parcells, a two-time (2012-13) all-conference second-team performer, along with junior Abbey Dixon and senior Tilda Helgesson all return. Dixon and Helgesson both garnered third-team all-league honors this past fall. Heather Newberry and Chelsey Roberson are back for their senior seasons to join a solid group of incoming freshmen to put A-State in a favorable position of defending its conference title.
Several top eight runners from last season return for the men’s team as juniors Wil Norris, Lance Beckman, and Jesse Duvall along sophomores Zach VanGundy and Mark Talarico headline the list of returnees. Norris was A-State’s top finisher in six of the Red Wolves’ seven meets a season ago and achieved all-conference third-team recognition. Several quality freshmen should not only provide significant depth, but challenge for top team positions. Drew Mueller, a transfer from Indiana Tech, may likely contend for one of the top three spots after scoring points for their team championship at the 2014 NAIA Indoor and Outdoor National Championships.
2014 Arkansas State Cross Country Schedule
Aug. 30 – Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic (Mike Rose Complex-Memphis, Tenn.)
Sept. 12 – Saint Louis Big River Forest Park Cross Country Festival (Forest Park-St. Louis, Mo.)
Sept. 27 – Rhodes College Invitational (Shelby Farms-Memphis, Tenn.)
Oct. 4 – Chile Pepper Festival (Agri Park –Fayetteville, Ark.)
Oct. 18 – UALR Invitational (Rebsamen Golf Club-Little Rock, Ark.)
Oct. 18 – Indiana State Pre-National Invitational (LaVern Gibson Championship-Terre Haute, Ind.)
Nov. 2 – Sun Belt Conference Championships (USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park-Mobile, Ala.)
Nov. 14 – NCAA South Central Regional (Agri Park-Fayetteville, Ark.)
Nov. 22 – NCAA Championships (LaVern Gibson Championship-Terre Haute, Ind.)
Note – All dates are subject to change.