Coaches pleased about meet change

By: Bob Holt
Published: Friday, April 12, 2019
Arkansas men's track coach Chris Bucknam watches during the Southeastern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championship on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas men's track coach Chris Bucknam watches during the Southeastern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championship on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- When John McDonnell coached the University of Arkansas men's track and field team, he used to say that when local farmers needed rain for their crops, they'd ask him to schedule a home meet.

McDonnell meant it as a joke, but Arkansas home meets often have been plagued by rain -- sometimes by snow.

It rained when the Razorbacks hosted their first home meet of the outdoor season the weekend of March 22-23.

With rain forecast again for Saturday, Arkansas' coaches and officials made the decision earlier this week to move the McDonnell Invitational to today to avoid poor weather conditions.

"We got no complaints whatsoever from the other teams coming to the meet," said Arkansas women's Coach Lance Harter. "It was hey, 'We need to get in a meet.'

"The weather has been so dicey across the whole United States, people are going, 'Hey, if we've got to adjust by a day, so be it.' "

Today's forcecast calls for partly cloudy skies with a high temperature of 63 degrees. Saturday's forecast is for rain and a high temperature of 53 degrees.

Among the teams competing at the meet with Arkansas are Missouri, Oklahoma State, Tulsa, Oral Roberts University, Missouri State, Missouri-Kansas City and Drake.

"All of the teams coming in are driving, nobody is flying," Arkansas men's Coach Chris Bucknam said. "So it was really easy to make that adjustment to start a day earlier.

"Want all want good weather for the athletes and for the fans that come out to watch, so I think everybody's grateful we're going [today] instead of Saturday."

Among the key individuals competing today for the Razorbacks' women's team -- which won the NCAA indoor championship and is ranked No. 3 outdoors in the coaches' poll behind Southern California and Texas A&M -- are Payton Chadwick in the 100-meter hurdles and 200; Janeek Brown in the 100 and 200; Lexi Jacobus, Tori Hoggard and Desiree Freier in the pole vault; Morgan Burks-Magee in the 400; and Lauren Gregory in the 1,500.

"We're getting to that point where kids are trying to get seeding marks for the SEC meet and qualify for NCAA regionals," Harter said. 'That time crunch is getting on us, because there aren't that many more meets to go."

Arkansas' No. 21-ranked men's team, which finished 13th at the NCAA indoor championships, will be led today by Cameron Griffith and Ethan Moehn in the 800, Hunter Woodhall in the 400, Shakiel Chatto, Tre'Bien Gilbert and Carl Elliott in the 110 hurdles and the 400 relay team.

"Every meet that we do has a lot of meaning, there's no question about that," Bucknam said. "We're looking for consistency across the board and great competitive efforts.

"We need to keep getting comfortable with the elements outdoors and continue the personal development with all of our guys."

Field events begin at 12:20 p.m. today with running events starting at 4:15 p.m.

Arkansas will host three more meets this outdoor season with the National Relays April 26-27, the UA Twilight on May 3 and the SEC Championships May 9-11.

At a glance

JOHN MCDONNELL INVITATIONAL

WHEN Today. Field events begin at 12:20 p.m. with running events at 4:15 p.m.

WHERE John McDonnell Field, Fayetteville.

WHO Teams competing include Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Tulsa, Oral Roberts University, Southwest Baptist, Missouri-Kansas City and Drake.

Sports on 04/12/2019

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