Razorbacks running head on into SEC conference meet
Arkansas men, women enter loaded field on both sides this weekend
arkansasrazorbacks.com The Arkansas women under Lance Harter have dominated SEC meets and the men with Chris Bucknam are going for a back-to-back triple crown in the conference meets.
Arkansas’ men have won the cross country and indoor track & field already this season and associate head coach Doug Case is hoping to complete the sweep.
Harter said his Razorbacks are looking forward to the challenge and hoping they can make a lot of noise in that event.
“We’re loading the distances up to be able to stay competitive in this meet,” Harter said. “We have to fire on all cylinders.
Sydney Thorvaldson, our really good freshman, and Isabel Van Camp will lead our charges in the 10,000.
We have four entries, but those two we’re putting a lot of faith in that they’ll take care of the challenge.” Harter also pointed out many of his Razorbacks will be competing in more than one event.
“Doubling wise, we have a lot of doublers,” Harter said. “Lauren Gregory is going to run the 1,500 for the first time this year and 5K. Isabel is going to run the 10K and 5K. Krissy Gear is going to run the steeple and 15K. Logan Jolly is going to run the steeple and 5K. We’re trying to maximize our scoring potential as far as middle distances and distances best we can. Kennedy Thomson is going to run the 8K and 15K which is a very tough double at the SEC Meet.”
Britton Wilson is another Razorback Harter is counting on for more than one event.
“She is going to have her work cut out as well,” Harter said. “Chris Johnson has been experimenting with her the last two competitions to see how well she handles it. If last weekend was any reflection of her ability she just did a fantastic job of running in the quarter and coming back in the 400-meter hurdles an hour later. She’s an exceptional talent.”
Harter feels this year will be a big challenge for the Razorbacks in this particular meet. Texas is ranked No. 1 this week, but the remaining Top 5 are all from the SEC. It’s Texas A& M, Florida, LSU and
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Photos courtesy of the University of Arkansas TRACK (cont.)
Arkansas in that order behind the Longhorns.
“Tradionally I always tell you guys it’s going to be a battle because I always had an extra 20 points in my pocket,” Harter said. “I learned that from John McDonnell because he was never the favorite in any championship, but yet he would win by 70. This week we moved up to No.
5 and there’s still three SEC teams ahead of us.
“So Florida, Texas A& M and LSU have exceptional teams to say the least nationally, but this year they also happen to have great conference teams as well. So we’re going to have our battle again to try and neutralize those three.
Florida is the defending national indoor champ.
They’ve got a lot of pride running really, really well.
LSU almost got us indoors this year as well as outdoors last year as well.
Their team is even better this year than it was last year. Texas A& M has really gotten a lot of momentum since indoor. They have a really exceptional team. It will be the same it has been in the past you’ve got to score a 100 points. If you can score a 100 you are going to win. Everyone of those points will be a battle.”
But like McDonnell, Harter has a tendency to downplay his team’s chances. He was asked if his team has a realistic shot at winning this meet?
“We’re in the conversation,” Harter said. “It could very well come down to the mile relay again. The 5,00 0 is right before it.
The 5,000 is one of the key events. One of the best in the United States is at Alabama. It’s somebody chipping away at us.”
The men have struggled with some injuries particularly to sprinters. Case talked about the health of Arkansas at this time.
“We’re a little banged up, but I feel we’ve made some progress here in the last couple of weeks,” Case said. “We’ve got some young guys who have been in the program for only a year that they have to figure out how this works. We work really hard. I’m trying to lighten up on them to let them have a new life here at the end of the year.
I think some of them feel really good. So we can come back around with that group and they’ll feel better.”
Ayden Owens-Delerme has been a standout all season for Arkansas. Case talked about his status entering this meet.
“Ayden’s not going to do the multi-events for the conference meet,” Case said. “He is however going to run on the 4×100, the 4×400 and high hurdles.
He’s got a great mark in the hurdles. He’s got an excellent opportunity to score in that event. I think he makes both our relays pretty competitive because he’s one great athlete. An unbelievable athlete.”
Case also talked about James Banks and his status for this week.
“James is not going to run at the conference meet,” Case said. “He still has that hamstring thing going on. I really don’t think we’re going to see him the rest of the season to be honest.
With him out he’s obviously a great, great 400-meter runner who can score at the national meet and definitely score at the SEC Meet.
He hurts us a little bit. But we’ll have some guys, as we always do, guys that need to come in there, step up and get it done. I expect them do that.”
Case said Roman Turner who will run the 100 and then the 4×100. Freshman Connor Washington will run the 200 and 4×100 and he has a chance to be on the 4×400.
“At the end of the day it depends on how he feels,” Case said of Washington.
The Arkansas men enter the meet ranked No. 18 nationally.