Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
Razorbacks’ plans right on track
Arkansas freshman Curtis Brown begins the first leg of the 1,600-meter relay during the Razorback Invitational Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas fans have gotten used to seeing the Razorbacks’ men’s and women’s track and field teams compete at the SEC and NCAA meets in the Randal Tyson Track Center.
Not this year.
For only the fourth time since 2000, Arkansas will not host either the SEC or NCAA meets.
The last chance for Arkansas fans to see the Razorbacks at home during the indoor season will be this weekend at the Tyson Invitational. The meet, which begins today and runs through Saturday, will feature men’s and women’s teams from 29 schools.
Chris Bucknam, coach of the No. 1-ranked and defending NCAA champion Arkansas’ men’s team, said the meet’s highlight events will be held 6-8 p.m. today and 3-5:30 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s the length of a basketball game if you come at the right times,” Bucknam said. “I think it’s a good couple hours to come over and check us out.”
In addition to Arkansas, other teams competing include LSU, Texas, Florida State, Wisconsin, Missouri, Nebraska, Auburn, Kansas, Baylor, Tennessee, South Carolina, Virginia, Illinois and Mississippi State.
It’s the last major competition for the Razorbacks before the SEC Championships on Feb. 27-March 1 in College Station, Texas, and the NCAA Championships on March 14-15 in Albuquerque, N.M.
“Our kids realize it’s crunch time now,” Bucknam said. “It’s time to get to work. You can feel it in practice that this is a big meet for us.”
Headliners for Arkansas this weekend will be senior Raymond Higgs, ranked third nationally in the long jump at 25 feet, 10 inches; sophomore Jarrion Lawson, ranked fourth in the long jump (25-6¾ ); senior Anthony May, ranked fifth in the triple jump (52-8¼) and sixth in the high jump (7-2½ ); freshman Clive Pullen, ranked sixth in the triple jump (52-6½ ); senior Neil Braddy, ranked ninth in the 400 meters (46,36); and senior All-American Patrick Rono in the 800 meters and anchoring the distance medley relay.
Razorbacks who may be held out of the meet because of injuries are junior two-time NCAA champion pole vaulter Andrew Irwin, senior All-American distanced runner Kemoy Champbell and freshman sprinter Omar McLeod.
Bucknam said the Razorbacks have been making steady progress throughout the indoor season as they build toward the SEC and NCAA meets.
“It’s no different than any other sport. You want to catch fire towards the end,” Bucknam said. “I think our guys, especially our vets, understand how important this meet is this weekend.”
Arkansas’ No. 6-ranked women’s teams will be led by sprinter freshman Regine Williams while several distance runners will compete at the Husky Invitational in Seattle. Williams is ranked third nationally in the 200 meters at 23.6 seconds.
Arkansas junior Tamara Myers ranks fifth nationally in the triple jump at 43-0½ .
At a glance TYSON INVITATIONAL WHEN Today and Saturday.
WHERE Randal Tyson Track Center, Fayetteville WHO Men’s and women’s teams from 29 schools will compete, including Arkansas, LSU, Florida State, Texas, Wisconsin, Auburn and Baylor.
TICKETS $5 general admission for adults.
Cash only at the door. Free admission for Arkansas students and youth (high school and younger).
SCHEDULE Events start noon both days, but the main events will be from 6-8:30 p.m. today and 3-5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Sports, Pages 23 on 02/14/2014