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.
Track season left sitting on the blocks
Hurdles are stacked on Friday, April 27, 2018, at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Today in Austin, Texas the Arkansas Razorbacks men’s and women’s track and field teams were to conclude at the NCAA Outdoor Championships what they anticipated would be a successful Outdoor season.
They didn’t. Nobody did. For while doing their pre-meet workouts March 12 at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., the Razorbacks men of Coach Chris Bucknam and Razorbacks women of Coach Lance Harter and every team of every NCAA sport learned not only was the NCAA Indoor cancelled but every event and every practice in every sport cancelled because of the coronavirus covid-19 pandemic.
Only at this week’s Monday start were Razorbacks athletes in the fall semester sports that include cross country allowed back in the since March 12 closed Razorbacks training facilities.
Bucknam and Harter appreciate the weight room options, but it’s not a summer essential for their teams.
Normally the most elite active Razorbacks would start next week training for various Olympics, Trials, but the the pandemic postponed the Olympics until 2021.
The rest of the Razorbacks normally would rest several weeks after the NCAA Outdoor.
“Everything has been thrown out of kilter with no outdoor season,” Harter said. “The rest that some would be on, that’s taken place earlier.”
But it’s way too soon, especially for the 3-sports distance crew, to risk an overdo.
The sprinters and field-eventers can start using UA facilities June 29.
“There will be about a third of our team here in the summer,” Bucknam said. “They’ll use the weight room sporadically. For us at this stage weight training is not a critical component.”
The strictly track and field folks do their heavy training in the fall.
Harter and Bucknam lament the might have beens from the NCAA Indoor never run and the entire outdoor season unfulfilled.
Two-thirds completed with what almost assuredly would have been a second consecutive SEC Cross Country-Indoor-Outdoor triple crown, and completing for 2019 the first UA women’s NCAA Indoor-Outdoor-Indoor triple crown, Harter’s Razorbacks would have contended for the NCAA Indoor in Albuquerque.
They likely would have won the NCAA Outdoor in Austin. All-Americans Taylor Werner, Jada Baylark, Lauren Gregory and Keithlin Campbell, redshirting indoors to preserve their eligibility for Arkansas hosting the NCAA Indoor in March, 2021 were set to compete outdoors this spring.
“I think for Indoor Nationals we would have been a podium team (top four),” Harter said. “And with a break here or there if there were some hiccups by some of the teams like LSU and USC then, hey, we’re right there trying to get on the top of the podium. You put all that together with who we redshirted indoors we would have had a phenomenal team outdoors. I don’t know if it could have been stopped.”
Bucknam’s Razorbacks broke their rare SEC championship drought winning the 2020 SEC Indoor. They felt momentum surging into the NCAA Indoor meet and Outdoor season.
“No question about it the timing caught us on the upswing,” Bucknam said.
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