Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Compton a perfect fit
Arkansas pole vaulter Megan Zimlich competes in the NCAA West Preliminaries on Thursday, May 29, 2014 at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- It took some belated math to realize perfection was attained at last week's NCAA West Outdoor Preliminary track meet.
On the women's side of the three-day meet, which sent the top 12 finishers in each event on to next week's NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., Arkansas field events coach Bryan Compton directly coached seven Razorbacks.
He will coach all seven in Eugene, too.
Pole vaulters Sandi Morris, Danielle Nowell, Megan Zimlich and Cabot's Ariel Voskamp, high jumper Kirsten Hesseltine of Springdale Har-Ber, long jumper/triple jumper Tamara Myers and javelin thrower Amethyst Boyd are among the 16 Razorback athletes that Coach Lance Harter's women's team advanced from Fayetteville to Eugene.
Actually, Compton will coach eight in Eugene. Alex Gochenour qualified on the national descending order list for the heptathlon, which wasn't run in the preliminaries meet.
"He is 8 for 8," Harter said. "He is going to be a busy man in Eugene, there's no doubt it."
Compton should be an honored man too, Harter believes. Always known as a vault coach -- "We have had an All-American in the vault the last 13 years," Compton said -- Compton's work with Myers, Hesseltine, Boyd and Gochenour proves it's not just coaching the vault that puts him poles apart from most of his peers.
"He has got a shot to be national assistant coach of the year," Harter said. "Not many people have that kind of productivity. He is so precise about everything."
That includes fitting precisely for 15 years in the scheme of things with Harter, the distance coach and program overseer, and nearing two years with sprints coach Chris Johnson, who coaches Gochenour in the heptathlon hurdles.
"He kind of lets us be our own head coach of our events," Compton said of Harter. "Do what you want to do and then we have got to hack out the money between scholarships. We kind of know what each other is going to say or want and we just work it out with what's best for the team."
Compton has concentrated mostly on vaulters, and it has proven best for the team.
He has coached 18 All-America indoor vaulters and 13 All-America outdoor vaulters, including U.S. Olympian April Steiner Bennett and two-time NCAA Indoor champion Tina Sutej, who graduated in 2012 with the 15-1 1/2 NCAA Outdoor record.
Compton believes Morris, a junior who has topped 14-9 this season, will eclipse Sutej's record next year if not next week in Eugene.
Morris was asked how Compton excels.
"He holds us accountable," Morris said. "He believes in us, and he pushes us. There is kind of like this unspoken expectation that he gives off, this aura like you had better do it, you can do it and you are going to do it."
Sports on 06/04/2014