Hog Calls:

Compton coaches track with Saban-like success

By: Nate Allen
Published: Saturday, March 17, 2018
Arkansas assistant coach Bryan Compton speaks with Victoria Weeks as Weeks competes in the pole vault Friday, Jan. 15, 2016, during the Arkansas Invitational at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas assistant coach Bryan Compton speaks with Victoria Weeks as Weeks competes in the pole vault Friday, Jan. 15, 2016, during the Arkansas Invitational at the Randal Tyson Track Center.

FAYETTEVILLE -- If Bryan Compton coached football he long would be enshrined in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and doing commercials like Nick Saban.

And, yeah, borrowing Alabama football coach Saban's line on his bank ad apparently destined to run from here to eternity on the SEC Network, "I probably am right."

But Compton doesn't coach Arkansas Razorbacks football. He's an Arkansas assistant women's track coach.

Since Lance Harter, the head coach whom Compton assists, still isn't Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame enshrined upon coaching the UA women to 33 SEC championships and the only two national team championships for all UA women's athletics plus last weekend's NCAA Indoor team runner-up, don't go seeking Compton's Hall of Fame plaque.

You would, though, have to stand in a long, long line when vault coaches seek his advice. Especially now. Just weeks apart, Sandi Morris, the former Razorbacks vaulter whom Compton coached to a NCAA Championship and the NCAA Outdoor record and as the 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist and still coaches, won the World Indoor Championships followed March 10 by Razorbacks vaulters Lexi Jacobus, Tori Hoggard and Desiree Freier placing 1-2-5 at the NCAA Indoor Championships. The trio totaled 22 of Arkansas' 49 team points, an unprecedented team performance at the NCAA Indoor vault.

Those 22 points placed Team Jacobus, Hoggard and Freier ninth among NCAA Indoor teams had they kept their points to themselves.

Coupling Morris' World Championship with sisters Jacobus and Hoggard, the Weeks twins in their Cabot days, and Freier's NCAA performances seems like a Compton football equivalent of offensively coordinating the collegiate national champion and Super Bowl champion in the same season.

Jacobus, now a 3-time NCAA champion and a 2016 U.S. Olympian, Hoggard and Freier are just the latest on Compton's Arkansas assembly line of All-American vaulters.

"If Bryan's not the vault guru, I would like to know who the person is," Harter said. "He has really done a fantastic job year in and year out."

This year Compton is not even the most recognized assistant on Harter's staff.

Associate head coach Chris Johnson, coaching the sprints, hurdles and horizontal jumps while Harter coaches the distance runners and Compton the vaulters, high jumpers and throwers, was Tuesday named the 2018 National Women's Indoor Assistant Coach of the Year Tuesday by the United States Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association.

Johnson, with since graduated 2016 U.S. Olympic medalist Taylor Ellis-Watson on his Arkansas resume among others, coached pentathlete Taliyah Brooks and hurdler Payton Chadwick to NCAA Indoor titles last weekend.

Meshing so well as a triumphant triumvirate speaks volumes of a high-powered staff operating on low-level egos.

All operate, Harter said, like "three head coaches in a collaborative effort."

"Someone told me the secret to being a head coach is hiring the best assistants because they complement your weaknesses," Harter said. "So we have three programs that work independently yet ultimately come together. The success they've had is phenomenal."

Sports on 03/17/2018

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