Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a voter for the Heisman Trophy, has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame, and has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Harter has earned a Hall call
Arkansas' Payton Chadwick is hugged by coach Lance Harter, right, after the team won the women's NCAA outdoor track and field championships in Austin, Texas, Saturday, June 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
FAYETTEVILLE Here’s hoping Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame voters recognize track and field long enough to induct Lance Harter in 2020.
Other than retired Razorbacks men’s head track/cross country coach John McDonnell and his beyond phenomenal 40 official national championships, only Harter coached University of Arkansas teams to multiple national championships.
The late Frank Broyles, 1964 football, former Razorbacks coach Nolan Richardson, 1994 men’s basketball, and current men’s track coach Chris Bucknam, 2013 NCAA Indoor, won one each.
Arkansas women’s coach Harter won two just in 2019. His Razorbacks outpointed a great Southern California Trojans team, the reigning 2018 NCAA Women Outdoor champions, to win both the NCAA Indoor in Birmingham, Ala., and the NCAA Outdoor in Austin, Texas.
To boot, Harter’s Razorbacks for 2018-19 claimed the SEC Triple Crown, winning the SEC Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor meets.
For winning both the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor, especially given the prowess of the runner-up Trojans, Harter’s Razorbacks will be regarded among the best collegiate teams ever assembled. That goes for his staff, too.
The talents blended by distance coach Harter, sprints coach Chris Johnson and field events coach Bryan Compton meshed spectacularly. They overcame Southern California with Taylor Werner’s stunning eight second-place points in the 5,000 meters, senior pole vaulter Tori Hoggard’s first national championship for 10 team points in her final collegiate meet and the second-place 1,600-meter relay clinching the team’s title.
All that without yet mentioning Janeek Brown, the Johnson-coached sophomore sensation. Brown’s NCAA Outdoor 12.40-second, 100-meter hurdles victory and 20.40-second, fourth place in the 200-meter dash broke the previous best ever women’s 12.71/22.30 women’s 100 hurdles/200 dash double set by the legendary Jackie Joyner in 1988.
Brown began her historic June 8 running “a phenomenal” third leg, Harter said, on Arkansas’ 400-meter relay.
Just this one year of national acclaim overseeing what his team achieved as athletes and a staff seems to merit Harter’s Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame induction.
But he’s hardly a one-year wonder. Hired in 1989 by then-Lady Razorbacks athletics director Bev Lewis to succeed herself as women’s head track/cross country coach, Harter had won 14 NCAA Division II national championships head coaching track and cross country at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.
At Arkansas he’s coached four NCAA championship teams. The 2015 NCAA Indoor and 2016 NCAA Outdoor titles preceded this year’s double.
They mark the only four team national championships in the history of UA women’s athletics.
With the SEC consensus acknowledged as the nation’s premier track and field league, Harter has coached 36 SEC championship indoor, outdoor and cross country teams, and just completed an unprecedented seventh SEC triple crown.
The United States Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association elected Harter to its Hall of Fame in 2014.
Surely the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame will follow suit.
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