KJ Jefferson and Jadon Haselwood have been spending the summer working to …
Track teams go back to future
Arkansas coach Lance Harter (left) stands with (from left) Isabel Van Camp, Logan Jolly, Lauren Gregory and Krissy Gear at the Penn Relays on Saturday, April 30, 2022, in Philadelphia. (Photo by Shawn Price/University of Arkansas)
FAYETTEVILLE — One aspect very familiar to Arkansas Razorbacks men’s and women’s track and field and one aspect alien to the programs each manifest Saturday between last weekend’s Penn Relays in Philadelphia and the SEC Outdoor Championships running Thursday through next Saturday in Oxford, Miss.
Coach Lance Harter’s Razorbacks women and Coach Chris Bucknam’s Razorbacks men are back to the future ensconced at Penn. Last week they reestablished their Penn presence that was far too long absent even before the covid pandemic closed the entire meet for 2020 and 2021.
Mainly because adding NCAA Outdoor Regionals so disrupted the outdoor schedule, Arkansas started skipping Penn, always one of its annual highlights.
Penn was a building block in the late John McDonnell establishing Razorbacks men’s track and field as the greatest NCAA dynasty.
Harter’s women did much at Penn toward building their six national championships.
Last week at Penn, Harter’s 6,000-meter relay of Isabel Van Camp, Logan Jolly. Lauren Gregory and Krissy Gear set the collegiate record, winning in 16:53.87.
They join the 1985 Razorbacks record-setting men at Penn (14:50.2). Keith Iovine, Gary Taylor, David Swain and Paul Donovan set the still-existing men’s collegiate record that year.
“Now Arkansas owns that record collegiately completely,” Harter said of Arkansas’ men and women.
“The relay was very well serenaded. Media interviewed our kids over an hour. FloTrack did a big deal on their website and that’s just perfect for high school recruits. Hopefully that will pay dividends for us in the future.”
Bucknam’s men, with ace sprinter James Benson injured, didn’t win a relay at Penn. But Razorback Phillip Lemonious did win Penn’s 110-meter hurdles.
And Penn treated his men royally, Bucknam said, including the Hogs attending Penn’s Wall of Fame ceremony honoring McDonnell-era great halfmiler-miler Graham Hood for his peerless Penn performances.
“It was great to be back, Bucknam said. “Renew old friendships. The ceremony where Graham Hood was inducted on to Penn’s Wall of Fame — certainly it opened our eyes up about returning there next year.”
Performing at Penn shouldn’t detract from defending their SEC titles next week, though for both it seems an unusually uphill climb, especially for the nationally No. 17 men if Benson remains out and medically redshirts.
“I assume we’re in the conversation but we’re certainly not favorites,” Bucknam said. “There are four teams ranked ahead of us. We’ve won five in a row and we’re going to try to win six, but I can’t guarantee it.”
Harter foresees a women’s four-team fight with nationally No. 2 Texas A&M, No. 3 Florida, No. 4 LSU and No. 6 Arkansas to the SEC finish.
“There are four teams on paper within 10 points of each other,” Harter said. “We’re not going in with anyone a hands-down favorite to win 10 (first-place) points. We’re going to have to earn what we get.”
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.