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 belongs in state sports hall of fame
Arkansas coach Lance Harter holds an SEC championship trophy during an on-field recognition at the Razorbacks' football game against Tulsa on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- The state's only 4-time national champion coach not inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame just became its only 5-time national champion coach not inducted into the hall of fame.
Lance Harter, last Saturday in Terre Haute, Ind., coached the University of Arkansas women to the program's first NCAA Cross Country Championship. Added to Harter's Razorbacks winning two NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships and two NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, that encompasses all five national championships won by the UA's entire women's athletic program.
Arkansas' last two NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Track titles came last March and June making Arkansas and Harter the only women's team and coach, other than Texas and Terry Crawford and Oregon and Robert Johnson, winning the NCAA Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor championships in consecutive meets.
Harter was inducted into the United States Track and Field Coaches Hall of Fame in 2014 before his first Arkansas NCAA title, but deep into his now 34 SEC Cross Country Indoor and Outdoor championships after 13 Division II national championships from 1981-1999 coaching Cal Poly San Luis-Obispo. In 2006, he was inducted into the UA's Sports Hall of Honor.
Perhaps this NCAA triple crown will net 2020 statewide Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame voting attention.
Meanwhile, Harter does what he always does, pinning the program's success on his athletes and his track assistants, sprints coach Chris Johnson and field events coach Bryan Compton.
"We gained so much momentum from the indoor season through the outdoor season," Harter said. "At the end of the outdoor the (distance) kids started talking to each other and I talked to them as well. 'Hey ladies, if we keep what we've been doing we can have a heck of a cross country team!'"
Ultimately in Terre Haute it fell on seniors Katie Izzo, Taylor Werner, Devin Clark, Carina Viljoen, junior Lauren Gregory and senior sixth runner Maddy Reed running the best NCAA Cross Country meet of their lives through the cold mud defeating runner-up Brigham Young, 96-102.
Sixth runner Reed couldn't top team five score but would have edged Arkansas one point ahead of BYU had she been Arkansas' fifth runner.
"We had six who laid it on the line," Harter said. "Katie ( a graduate transfer from Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo) was 82nd last year and moves to third. Taylor was 81st last year and moved to fourth. Devin (21st) and Carina (28th) were in the high numbers last year. That one through fourth punch did a fantastic job as they had all season."
It would have all gone for naught without Gregory or Reed if need be.
"Lauren Gregory (72nd) was the finishing blow for us and Maddy (77th) had never broken 100 at Nationals," Harter said. "The accountability they all had with ourselves and each other ..."
Harter will never forget it even if he can't long savor it.
"Enjoy the moment," Harter said. "Track season begins in the morning."
Sports on 11/25/2019
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