Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas-Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers.
UA's Bucknam, Geopfert named national coaches of the year
Arkansas coach Chris Bucknam, left, and assistant Danny Greene watch Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, during the Razorback Invitational at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Following their first NCAA title in seven years, the accolades are flowing in for Arkansas' indoor track program.
Razorbacks head coach Chris Bucknam was named national indoor coach of the year and field events coach Travis Geopfert was named national assistant coach of the year Thursday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Arkansas won the NCAA Indoor Championships last weekend in Fayetteville, outscoring second-place Florida by 15 points. The Razorbacks placed first in in three events - the heptathlon (Kevin Lazas), pole vault (Andrew Irwin) and 1,600-meter relay (Neil Braddy, Caleb Cross, Akheem Gauntlett and Marek Niit).
Geopfert, who came to Arkansas with Bucknam in 2008, coached Lazas, who set a school record and finished fourth in collegiate history with 6,175 points. He also coached Tarik Batchelor and Raymond Higgs, who finished third in the triple jump and long jump, respectively.
“To get this done, you need a special group of athletes,” Bucknam said following the win. “The coaching staff had everything in place. I’m really proud of how these guys got it together. We followed the plan, and we came in here and got it done. We just hope our alumni are proud. We look at all the national championship banners in the ceiling, and our number one goal was to make them proud and show them that we were back."
Earlier this week, Arkansas had 17 men and 14 women named all-Americans by the USTFCCCA. The Razorbacks' women finished fourth in the team standings at last week's NCAA meet.