FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas Friday released a drastically reduced cross country schedule for Coach Lance Harter’s defending NCAA and SEC defending champion Razorbacks women and Coach Chris Bucknam’s Razorbacks men.
Concerns over the ongoing coronavirus pandemic causing the NCAA to cancel national championship competition in all fall sports that it controls, has revised the Razorbacks to reduce to just three meets, all involving SEC sites, leading into the SEC Championships, this season’s zenith Oct. 30 hosted by LSU in Baton Rouge, La.
The Razorbacks cancelled their participation in the annual Chile Pepper Invitational whose collegiate portion they hosted, and will wage no home meets. Their schedule now starts Sept. 19 at the SEC Preview in Baton Rouge, the Missouri Gans Greek Classic, Oct. 3 in Columbia, Mo. and the Texas A&M Arturo Barrios Invitational, Oct. 17 in College Station, Texas.
Harter’s women and Bucknam’s men had won the SEC Indoor Track Championships last winter before the NCAA Indoor Championships and the entire Outdoor track season was cancelled because of coronavirus concerns the day before the NCAA Indoor was to begin as college teams warmed up at the NCAA Indoor site in Albuquerque, N.M.
Both Bucknam, whose Razorbacks were SEC Cross Country runner-up in 2019, and Harter are grateful having even an abbreviated NCAA season minus a NCAA Championship meet after no track competition since mid March.
“We are thrilled as a program to have a season this fall, and we have a chance to compete,” Bucknam said Friday. “It starts to bring our program back to normal again. It’s not quite 100%, without the NCAA Championships, but it’s real close. Certainly, we can work with this regular season schedule and compete for a SEC Championship.”
The Razorbacks, with Harter’s women the 2018 NCAA Indoor champions, host the NCAA Indoor Track Championships in March.
“This helps us get our program back up and running again,” Harter said. “Then it can catapult us into the winter and spring seasons for indoor and outdoor track.”
Now we have a (SEC) championship meet to prepare for and we are going to zero in on that and move forward. Everybody gets fired up for an SEC Championship.”