Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year three times.
Arkansas to help open Oregon’s new track
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 — The University of Arkansas men’s track and field team will compete in an outdoor meet for the first time in two years when the Razorbacks help Oregon break in the new Hayward Field this weekend.
Arkansas is among the teams taking part in the Hayward Premiere today and Saturday at the stadium Oregon built for a reported $270 million, with most of the funds provided by Nike founder and Oregon alumnus Phil Knight.
Last year’s collegiate outdoor season — and the opening of the new Hayward Field — was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re thrilled to be getting back outdoors,” Arkansas men’s Coach Chris Bucknam said. “It’s the pinnacle of our sport. This is the season that we all train for, and so it’s good to be back.”
Arkansas’ women’s team also will compete at the Hayward Premiere, but with just its middle distance and distance runners after the Razorbacks sprinters and field event athletes opened the outdoor season last week at the Texas Relays.
The UA men will have a full team competing, Bucknam said.
“We’re running everything from the 100 to the 10,000 meters, and we’ll have our guys in most of the field events,” Bucknam said.
Oregon will host the NCAA Championships June 9-12 and the U.S. Olympic Trials June 18-27, and Bucknam said it’s important Arkansas gets a chance to compete at the facility.
“It’s going to be the epicenter for a lot of outdoor track in the next few years, so we figured let’s go out there as soon as we can, get a feel for the place,” Bucknam said. “That way we’ll be a little bit more familiar with it when we head back out there for the all important NCAA Championships, and then the Olympic Trials after that.”
Arkansas women’s Coach Lance Harter agreed.
“I hope this weekend will pay dividends when we go back for NCAAs as well as for those that qualify for the Olympic Trials,” Harter said.
Teams joining Oregon and Arkansas at the meet are Boise State, BYU, Colorado, Iowa State, New Mexico, Portland, Portland State, Southern Utah, Tulsa, Washington State, Weber State and Wichita State.
Invitational races for the Razorbacks include Kieran Taylor in the 800, Amon Kemboi in the 1,500, Luke Meade in the 5,000 and Gilbert Boit, Emmanuel Cheboson, Jacob McLeod, Ryan Murphy, Myles Richter and Matt Young in the 10,000.
Razorbacks who had exhausted their indoor eligibility but will compete outdoors are Travean Caldwell and Nick Hilson in the 400-meter hurdles, LaQuan Nairn in the long jump and Tyler Brendel in the decathlon.
Invitational races featuring Arkansas’ women are Katie Izzo in the 10,000, Abby Gray, Gracie Hyde and Logan Morris in the 5,000, Krissy Gear, Kennedy Thomson and Carina Viljoen in the 1,500 and Thomson and Quinn Owen in the 800.
“Probably it’s the No. 1 track and field facility now in the world,” Harter said of Hayward Field. “This is going to be the inauguration of the facility and we’re looking forward to getting a chance to test ourselves.”
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