Cross country teams travel to unfamiliar meet at Arkansas


Kenneth Armant/The Chart

Freshman Drake Smelser runs during the Southern Stampede on Sept. 21

The 25th Annual Chili Pepper Cross Country Festival will be a new experience for every cross country runner except senior Jake Benton.

Southern’s cross country teams have not attended this meet since 2010 when Benton was just a freshman where he finished second of the Lions with a time of 33:07.10.

“My advice to the guys is the same for every race,” said Benton. “I tell them to go out hard but comfortable. There is no point in going out so hard that you tighten up and ruin the rest of the race. At the same time, in a race of this magnitude you have to get out well and stayed packed up with your team or you’ll be swallowed and separated early.”

Both teams have ran on the course during the first race of the season, but there have been some changes.

Saturday’s meet will be a challenge for the women’s team as they have no experienced runners with them.

“This will be a new environment for everyone,” said sophomore Emily Harris.

Since this is a new meet, the women’s team has been dedicated, to put in the time at practice.

“Last week we hit a lot of miles and did a lot of hard workouts that will benefit us this weekend,” said Harris. “This week we had two hard workouts that were important to just get through because this is one of the toughest times of the season for us with school, running and trying to stay healthy.”

The Chili Pepper Festival usually brings in more than 80 college team to compete. The Lions will be familiar with a few competitors. Of course Arkansas University will be running, as well as common opponents Augustana, Arkansas Tech., Harding University, Missouri S&T and more.

“As for the competition, the race is stacked,” said Benton. “It’s a huge meet. There are also a lot of top Division I teams racing there and this makes the race go out really hard.”