FAYETTEVILLE – At their Randal Tyson Indoor Track Thursday through Saturday the Arkansas Razorbacks’ men’s and women’s teams enter favored to sweep the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships they swept in 2020 at College Station, Texas the meet before the covid-19 pandemic closed 2020 spring sports the day before the NCAA Indoor was to begin in Albuquerque, N.M.
Coach Lance Harter’s women the reigning national champions in NCAA 2019 cross country, Indoor and Outdoor Track and 2021 SEC Cross Country have won all five meets they have entered and are heavy favorites though Harter observes SEC members Texas A&M and Georgia rank second and fourth nationally.
“We have the target on our back,” Harter said. “A&M is right in second and if there is such a big as guaranteed points they have got some guarantees with some phenomenal field event people and their mile relay broke the collegiate record here and they have a phenomenal 800-meter runner that even as a freshman most everyone concedes is untouchable. But we have a lot of bullets to fire.”
So many bullets they haven’t blinked even as 2019 SEC Runner of the Year and multi-All American distance runner Taylor Werner turned pro as the indoor season began.
Transfer from Furman University Krissy Gear promptly set a school record in the mile while Katie Izzo and Lauren Gregory off the national cross country championship team dominate the 3,000 and 5,000 while sprints coach Chris Johnson sprinters and pentathletes and field events coach Bryan Compton’s pole vaulters are premier “across the board,” Harter said.
Arkansas Coach Chris Bucknam’s men variously ranked from first through third all season have jockeyed with LSU all season in the national rankings.
Though Arkansas has outpointed them both in men’s meets the Hogs hosted, Oregon of the Pac 12 currently ranks No. 1, LSU No. 2 and Arkansas No. 3.
“LSU just bumped ahead of us in the national rankings,” Bucknam said. “They are legit. They have some stars.”
But on the conference level Arkansas’ depth, with some star power of its own with Amon Kemboi doubling in the mile and 3,000 and heptathletes headed by 2019 SEC runner-up Markus Ballengee, the Hogs are the team to beat, Bucknam acknowledged.
“You look straight up at the descending order list and add the points up on that we are,” Bucknam said. “But when you strategically look at who is running what and who is going to be where then that gap closes quite significantly. We’ll have to be dialed in if we want to take the meet. We have to prove it.”