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.
Transfers become their best at Arkansas
FAYETTEVILLE — Many a college coach has lamented that taking on transfers means taking on headaches.
If so, it seems Lance Harter sports the best antidote since aspirin.
Setting the University of Arkansas women’s track team mile record, Furman transfer Krissy Gear became the latest transplant rooted in national esteem with Harter’s Razorbacks.
Seems women’s head coach/distance coach Harter, sprints coach Chris Johnson and pole vault coach Bryan Compton with a nucleus of those they carefully recruited out of high school, add some frustrated elsewhere and convert them into championship cogs on championship teams.
The championship combination authors volumes of championships. Five national team championships for indoor track, outdoor track and cross country, and 39 championships won in the SEC.
The Razorbacks' women reign as national and SEC champions in all three. They rank No. 1 nationally in this idle week and are favored to defend their SEC Indoor title Feb. 25-27 at their Randal Tyson Track Center.
Gear, clocking 4:31.83 in last Saturday’s Tyson Invitational mile at Randal Tyson, broke the 4:32.48 school record set in 2015 by Razorbacks legend and South Africa Olympian Dominique Scott.
In the same race, Katie Izzo, the transfer from Cal Poly and lead scorer of Arkansas’ 2020 NCAA and SEC Cross Country champions, ran a personal-best NCAA Indoor-qualifying 4:34.39.
Count Izzo and Gear as prominent tips of this team’s transfer icebergs that include 2021 personal record running distance runners Logan Morris, Kennedy Thomson and Gracie Hyde, respectively via Clemson, Tennessee-Chattanooga and Central Arkansas; Texas Tech transfer heptathlete/long jumper G’Auna Edwards; and pole vaulters Nastassja Campbell, via Stephen F. Austin, and with an outdoor season left Lauren Martinez via California.
Historically the women’s program’s most successful post-collegians, Olympic gold medalist sprinter Veronica Campbell for Jamaica and U.S. Olympic silver medalist pole vaulter Sandi Morris, transferred respectively from Barton Junior College and the North Carolina.
Other than Campbell, already an Olympian, none performed previously like they performed at Arkansas.
“It’s kind of proof in the pudding that the program works,” Harter said. “We’ve been very fortunate with the transfers that have flourished and we’re very proud of that.”
What about those chances of inheriting someone’s headache?
“Some do transfer with skeletons in the closet or whatever,” Harter said. “I think we’ve gotten somewhat choosy about who we allow to transfer in. If the term vetting is appropriate, we try to make sure that we don’t imbalance our team chemistry because we had to work really hard to get the team culture that we have.”
It helps vastly that success breeds success. To match their successful surroundings, transfers realize they instantly must cast old ghosts aside and get with the program.
“When they transfer they have a limited time schedule,” Harter said. “So we’ve been kind of on the express lane with some of these kids and they’ve done a great job.”
So great to be greater than they’ve ever been.
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