Hogs, ’Horns tangle again

By: Bob Holt
Published: Friday, January 17, 2014
Arkansas hurdler Alex Gochenour clears a hurdle on her way to a 3rd place finish in the women's 60 meter hurdles event at the Arkansas Invitational indoor track meet Friday afternoon at the Randal Tyson Track Complex in Fayetteville.
Photo by Michael Woods
Arkansas hurdler Alex Gochenour clears a hurdle on her way to a 3rd place finish in the women's 60 meter hurdles event at the Arkansas Invitational indoor track meet Friday afternoon at the Randal Tyson Track Complex in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE - Chris Bucknam had been on the job as Arkansas’ men’s cross country and track and field coach for about a month in the summer of 2008 when he received a quick history lesson on the Arkansas-Texas rivalry.

It came from his daughter.

Kate Bucknam, then in high school and now on Minnesota’s cross country and track teams, went for a run around Fayetteville wearing a Texas Relays t-shirt - complete with a Longhorns logo - that her father had gotten her when his Northern Iowa team competed in Austin.

“She came into my office after her run and said, ‘What’s the deal with Texas around here?’ ” Bucknam said. “I said, ‘I don’t know? What’s up?’ She said, ‘I had a lot of people say some stuff to me that wasn’t too nice. I don’t think they like Texas very much.’ “

Arkansas assistant Doug Case also was in the office and heard about the local reaction to Texas.

“Doug said right away, ‘Hey, we ought to have a dual meet with those guys,’ ” Bucknam said. “That’s really how we first got the idea to have a meet with Texas, because of the reaction my daughter got wearing a Texas Relays shirt when she was out running in Fayetteville.”

Arkansas and Texas, former Southwest Conference rivals, will compete tonight in a dual meet for the fifth consecutive year at the Randal Tyson Indoor Track Center. The Arkansas and Texas women’s teams also will face each other in a dual meet for the first time.

Field events start at 6 p.m., with running events at 7 p.m. The final scheduled event, the men’s 1,600-meter relay, is set for 9:25 p.m.

Arkansas’ men’s team has won all four of the previous duals against the Longhorns, including 85-78 last year.

“Any competition is important to us, but there’s obviously something special for Arkansas going against Texas,” Bucknam said. “It’s a great way for us to kick off the season.”

The defending NCAA indoor champion Razorbacks are ranked No. 1 in the coaches’ poll while Texas is No. 15.

“I think we look at it as more of a blessing than a curse in the fact that we must be doing something right if we’re ranked that high,” Bucknam said. “As you go through the season, you’ll become more accountable as the meets shake out.

“We’ve got to now go out and measure up to it, and I think our guys are used to the high expectations. It doesn’t bother us.”

Arkansas junior Andrew Irwin, a two-time NCAA champion, will compete in the pole vault. So will senior Kevin Lazas, the NCAA heptathlon champion.

All-Americans going for the Razorbacks include seniors Kemoy Campbell and Stanley Kebenei in the mile, junior Patrick Rono in the 800 and senior Neil Braddy in the 400.

Among Arkansas’ newcomers competing are freshman sprinter Omar McLeod and freshman triple jumper Clive Pullen. McLeod is the SEC freshman of the week after winning the 60-meter hurdles and 60 meters and running a leg on the Razorbacks’ victories 1,600 relay at the Arkansas Invitational. Pullen will make his Razorbacks debut.

“We’ve got some great veterans on our team, but we’ve also got some new kids who are pretty fun to watch,” Bucknam said.

Texas is bringing its women’s team to Arkansas for a dual meet for the first time because Mario Sategna is now the head coach for both the men’s and women’s teams. The longtime Texas assistant was promoted to head coach this year after Bubba Thornton retired.

Texas is ranked No. 1 in the women’s poll and Arkansas is No. 7.

“We had wanted to take part in a dual with Texas from the get-go when Chris came up with this idea, but the Texas women had been adamantly opposed to it,” Arkansas women’s Coach Lance Harter said. “We’re excited that it’s finally happening.”

The Razorbacks women’s team is led by All-America distance runners Stephanie Brown, Grace Heymsfield and Dominique Scott. Freshman sprinter Regine Williams was the SEC runner of the week after a national-leading 23.37 in the 200.

“We’re going to have a team meeting to make sure we educate our newcomers about the Texas rivalry,” Harter said. “I think it will be an opportunity to unite the kids because we’re scoring the meet.”At a glance ARKANSAS VS. TEXAS WHEN 6 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Field events start at 6 p.m., with running events beginning at 7 p.m.

WHERE Randal Tyson Indoor Track Center, Fayetteville RANKINGS Men: Arkansas is ranked No.

1 nationally and Texas is ranked No. 15.

Women: Texas is ranked No. 1 nationally and Arkansas is ranked No. 7.

TICKETS $5 general admission for adults.

Cash only at the door. Free admission for Arkansas students and youth (high school and younger).

Messing with Texas

Arkansas’ men’s team has won its dual meet against Texas for four consecutive years. Here are the year-by-year results (all meets have been in Fayetteville): YEAR RESULT 2010 Arkansas 88, Texas 81 2011 Arkansas 97, Texas 72 2012 Arkansas 89, Texas 81 2013 Arkansas 85, Texas 78

Sports, Pages 26 on 01/17/2014

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