• Dennis McCaslin

Razorbacks setting pace in SEC for Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup Trophy

Arkansas leads all Southeastern Conference intercollegiate athletics programs and ranks among the top 15 programs in the nation in the latest 2017-18 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup Standings released on Thursday by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of America (NACDA).

The Directors’ Cup tracks the nation’s most successful intercollegiate athletics programs for their performances throughout the year.

Arkansas is the only SEC program in the top 25 and one of only two programs (Ole Miss) in the top 50 of the second set of fall standings. The standings released on Thursday included women’s field hockey, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s water polo.

A fourth NCAA Tournament berth in five seasons, netted 25 Directors’ Cup points for the Razorback soccer team. With 11 wins in 2017, Arkansas eclipsed the 10-win total for the third time in the last four years after its amazing run through the SEC Tournament, which included a tournament final berth for the second-straight year. Arkansas was the lowest-seeded team to ever make it to the conference tournament’s final match, taking out the likes of Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, and top-seeded South Carolina along the way.

After both the Arkansas men’s and women’s teams won the SEC Cross Country Championship in October for the fifth consecutive year, the two squads earned top-15 finishes at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 18.

Ascending from its 15th-place national ranking prior to the race, the men’s cross country team battled to its second-consecutive top-five finish at the NCAA Cross Country meet. Seniors Jack Bruce, Austen Dalquist and Alex George finished 13th, 43rd and 51st respectively to lead the Razorbacks. Bruce’s 13th-place finish garnered All-America honors for the third-consecutive year while leading Arkansas to a top-five finish. Arkansas earned 75 points for its fifth-place finish and now has ranked in the top-10 nationally in five of the past eight seasons.

The Arkansas women’s cross country team raced to a 13th-place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championship to earn 63 points. The Razorbacks were led by sophomore Carina Viljoen, who finished 48th in her first national race. Dating back to its 14th-place finish at the 2011 Championships, the Razorbacks have finished in the top-20 seven-consecutive years, including three top-15 finishes in the past four years.

Arkansas tallied 839 points and finished 20th last year in the 2016-17 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup, the ninth top 30 finish in the past decade. The Razorbacks’ also earned a top-25 finish in the final ranks for the eighth time since the previously independent men’s and women’s athletics programs were combined in 2008.

The Directors’ Cup program has been tracking the success of the nation’s top intercollegiate athletics programs since 1993-94.