Lady'Backs Finished 16th In NCAAs

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Kim Smith of Providence College won the NCAA Women's Cross Country individual title easily, but Colorado grabbed the team title to complete a sweep of both the men's and women's races on Monday.

Third-ranked Colorado breezed with 63 points, followed by Duke with 144 and Providence with 164.

Arkansas, getting a solid team effort, bettered its No. 19 ranking by three spots to finish 16th with 400 points.

Smith, an accomplished "mudder" from New Zealand with Olympic experience, sped to the front early on the rain-soaked LaVern Gibson Course and never looked back as she won in 20:08.5 to continue her college dominance of the past 18 months.

"That's how I race and that's where I'm comfortable," Smith said. "Being from New Zealand, I'm used to rain and mud, so I wasn't affected by today's conditions."

Maureen Scott led Arkansas with a time of 21:46.8 on the 6,000-meter course, placing 56th among those in the team scoring and 84th overall.

Kristina Smith, a sophomore from Anchorage, Alaska, had the second-best Lady'Backs time with 21:57 for 71st in team scoring.

Alison Zeinner-Rush, Arkansas' leader all season, started the race a bit conservatively and finished third among the Lady'Backs in 22:06.

UA women's coach Lance Harter, who had hoped for a Top-15 finish, said, "Ali and Mo thought they could reel a lot of runners in after the first loop, but everyone kind of stayed the same. They paid dearly for the conservative first loop. But we ran solid as a group."

Scott, who took off her waterlogged socks before the race, said, "This was true cross country today. I like it. We probably started out too slow, but it's so hard to tell in a big pack like that. I didn't see any of our runners after the first mile."

Nor could she see Kim Smith, whom Scott called "an amazing athlete."

Kristina Smith made her first NCAA cross country race her best one overall.

"I was very nervous, but last night I pictured myself moving forward with all the positive energy around me," Smith said. "I always visualize like that. This was cross country at its best -- you've gotta love getting covered with mud."

Rush said, "We were a little too conservative -- especially myself. But we got back into it. We were really pleased to finish 16th and beat our national ranking."

The Lady'Backs also beat Southeastern Conference champion Tennessee, which slipped to 21st, and South Central Regional champ SMU (22nd), which had beaten Arkansas twice this year.

"Kristina had a huge best, and Shiloh Whiting and Laura Jakosky ran solid for us," Harter said. "Penny Splicahl walked off after a mile and said, 'I just can't do this.' She had a great workout last week, but that took an opportunity away from a freshman (Tiffany Redlarczyk)."

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