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Olympic Sports Fall Preview

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This fall has some good teams on the Hill besides football.

UAB Blazers v Arkansas Razorbacks Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Cross Country

Yup, the track capital is at it again. The women’s team will attempt to defend their SEC triple crown. That should get off to a good start as the cross country team returns nearly every one, six of the top seven runners are returning. All-Americans Devin Clark and Taylor Werner are back, as is 2016 SEC Freshman of the year Abby Gray.

On the men’s side, they want to build on last year’s fifth place finish. They will depend on All-Americans Jack Bruce and Alex George. They also have a returning SEC Freshman of the year in Carter Persyn. The SEC is always loaded in track but the Hogs should be right at the top as usual.

Soccer

2016 was a huge year for the soccer program. They got historic home wins over Duke and Florida at home. They ended the year with an NCAA Tournament win and just missed the Sweet 16, but fell to 3-seed Clemson in penalty kicks.

They will replace a lot of production but still return a good amount. Lindsay Mayo, Claire Kelley, and Alexandra Fischer are all gone. Mayo led the team in goals last year but Jessi Hartzler (3rd in goals), and Kayla McKeon (2nd) are both returning and are on the All-SEC watch list. Stefani Doyle and Carly Hoke (yes, she’s related to Brady Hoke) are also on that list.

They also have a big time home schedule, their home opener is August 25th against powerhouse Penn State. They also have matches against ranked opponents liked UConn, Auburn, and South Carolina.

If you can’t wait for football, their season gets underway tonight! They face off against SMU on the road so check them out.

Swimming and Diving

The swimming and diving team had a few members participate in the U.S. Open Championships earlier this month. They’ll return and get started with their season in September. Arkansas finished 2016-17 with a 5-3 record but was only 11th in the brutal SEC. They will be leaning on Jessie Garrison, Madison Strathman, and Sydney Angell. The three upperclassmen all had top-40 finishes at the Open Championships.

Volleyball

Last season was Jason Watson’s first season as head coach and he still looks to be rebuilding. Over half the roster this season is freshman and there are only three seniors. The players to look out for are libero Okiana Valle, who led the team in digs, and Pilar Victoria.

Victoria was All-SEC in 2015 but injuries forced her to redshirt last season. Her return should make a huge impact for them. They finished 2016 with a poor 9-21, but navigated the tough SEC well, going 7-11 in the conference. If they can avoid that rough start then 2017 could be a step in the right direction.