Razorbacks driven for inaugural relay meet

By: Bob Holt
Published: Friday, April 27, 2018
A relay baton is seen at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships in Eugene, Ore., Thursday, June 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
A relay baton is seen at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships in Eugene, Ore., Thursday, June 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)

FAYETTEVILLE -- The Arkansas Razorbacks set the collegiate record in the 6,000-meter relay when the team of Keith Iovine, Gary Taylor, David Swain and Paul Donovan ran 14 minutes, 50.2 seconds at the Penn Relays on April 27, 1985.

Exactly 33 years later, another quartet from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville will run the event at 8 tonight at the inaugural National Relay Championships at John McDonnell Field.

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NATIONAL RELAY CHAMPIONSHIPS

WHEN Today and Saturday. Field events 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and running events 3 p.m.-7 p.m. today. Field events 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and running events 7-9 p.m. Saturday.

WHERE John McDonnell Field, Fayetteville

WHO Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, TCU, Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Stanford.

TICKETS $5 for adults, 17 and under free

TELEVISION SEC Network 7-9 p.m. Saturday.

Razorbacks senior Jack Bruce -- who will run on tonight's 6,000 relay along with Kyle Hosting, Ethan Moehn and Cameron Griffith -- said Coach Chris Bucknam has been using the chance to break the record as motivation.

"Buck's teased the collegiate record at us for a good year, so that's our goal," Bruce said. "We're going to put a good team out there and give it a go.

"Hopefully, we can get some good conditions and all four of our guys will be on. We've got some good competition coming in. That should help."

Bucknam said Virginia Tech and Wisconsin have strong teams in the 6,000 relay to challenge Arkansas.

"That's a pretty staunch record," Bucknam said. "But we haven't run that event in a long time, so it'll be fun to put it out there and see what happens.

"We hope we have a good competitive race. That's what it takes. In those long relays you don't want a lot of separation. You want to match up well."

Bruce, a five-time All-American from Brisbane, Australia, transferred to Arkansas after running for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock as a freshman.

"Taking myself back to where I was before I came here, I don't think that version of me would have even thought it was possible to do what I have," Bruce said. "I came here and just experienced a whole other level of training and even a way of living.

"The way we train and live and do things is as close to being a professional as you can get without being paid. I had to learn quickly.

"It hasn't been perfect. I've definitely had some low moments and some had some really great moments, but I don't think I'd want it any other way.

"It's been a privilege to run for Arkansas. Everyone doesn't that get that opportunity."

Bruce is among several Arkansas seniors competing in a major meet at home for the final time this weekend.

"I'd like to go out with a bang at home," Bruce said. "I'd absolutely love to race here one last time as a Hog and do something pretty special as part of a team."

Other All-American seniors competing for the Razorbacks this weekend are sprinters Kenzo Cotton, Kemar Mowatt, Larry Donald and Jamarco Stephen and distance runner Austen Dalquist on the men's team and Tayliah Brooks -- the NCAA indoor champion in the heptathlon -- on the women's team.

Brooks, the national leader in the long jump, plans to compete in the high jump and 100-meter hurdles.

"It's exciting to have the big teams coming to Fayetteville," Brooks said. "It'll be my last big meet at home, so hopefully we can get some good competition, end it on a good note and then look forward to the championship season."

Cotton, a 16-time All-American, said he has mixed feelings about his college career nearing its end.

"I think it'll be kind of a bittersweet moment," Cotton said. "I remember my freshman year and now it's already time for my last home meet.

"I've had a lot of good times here at Arkansas. I've really enjoyed it. I think if I could do it again, I'd still come here. I'm just ready to close it out real well."

Bucknam said having a big finale at home for the seniors was part of the motivation behind creating the National Relays.

"It's awesome our seniors are going out at their home track on a beautiful Saturday night with some great competition," Bucknam said. "We've missed that over the last seven or eight years.

"The big meet has always been on somebody else's track. So we're excited about it being here."

Sports on 04/27/2018

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