Batchelor gives lift to Arkansas

By: Bob Holt
Published: Friday, January 25, 2013
Tarik Batchelor, a 2011 NCAA indoor champion, is back after missing last season with a ruptured patella tendon.
Photo by William Moore
Tarik Batchelor, a 2011 NCAA indoor champion, is back after missing last season with a ruptured patella tendon.

— Arkansas All-American horizontal jumper Tarik Batchelor will compete at home for the first time in two years at this weekend’s Razorback Team Invitational meet at the Randal Tyson Track Center.

Batchelor, a fifth-year senior from Kingston, Jamaica, will compete in the long jump today and in the triple jump Saturday. He missed all of the indoor and outdoor meets in 2012 after rupturing the patella tendon in his left knee and undergoing surgery.

Last week at Texas A&M, Batchelor began his comeback by triple jumping 51 feet, 41/2 inches, which ranks fifth nationally this season.

WEEKEND TICKET

WHAT: Razorback Team Invitational

WHEN: Today and Saturday. Field events begin at 1 p.m. today with running events at 6 p.m. Field events begin at noon Saturday with running events at 12:15 p.m.

WHERE: Randal Tyson Track Center, Fayetteville

WHO: Men’s field includes No. 1 Arkansas, No. 3 Florida, No. 6 LSU and No. 11 Texas. Women’s field includes No. 5 Arkansas, No. 7 Florida and No. 12 Arizona.

“It was an emotional lift for all of us to see Tarik compete,because it’s been a long haul getting back to this point,” Arkansas Coach Chris Bucknam said. “He’s such a great kid and great talent.

“We got the ice broken for Tarik, so that was good. He got to test the waters and get his confidence back.”

Batchelor is taking a shorter than usual approach on the runway and still not running full speed.

“We all know - and I think he does, too - that he’s got a lot inside of him,” Bucknam said. “Our job as coaches is to bring him along and not push him too fast too soon.

“Now it’s a new obstacle for him to do two events for the first time. We’re just kind of working through a progression, a process to get him up to full strength.”

The No. 1 Razorbacks headline a men’s field this weekend that includes No. 3 Florida, No. 6 LSU, No. 11 Texas, No. 13 Arizona and No. 21 Florida State. There will be team scoring.

“When you bring in the teams we do, all the events are loaded,” Bucknam said. “It’s a mini-national meet, I think. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The women’s field includes No. 5 Arkansas, No. 7 Florida, No. 12 Arizona, No. 16 Georgia, No. 17 Baylor and No. 23 Nebraska.

“No one can accuse us of ever dodging competition,” Arkansas Coach Lance Harter said.

The Razorbacks will be led by senior sprinter Regina George, a 13-time All-American. She ran the nation’s fastest 400 meters (53.30 seconds) and ran a leg on Arkansas’ national-leading 1,600 relay (3:36.03) at Texas A&M last weekend. She also ran the 10th-fastest 200 (23.67).

“All of the sprints are going to be blistering,” Harter said of this weekend’s events.

George will run the 200, 400 and 1,600 relay.

“She’s always busy,” Harter said. “She’s a great competitor and leads by example.”

Sports, Pages 24 on 01/25/2013

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