FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas’ reigning SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships championship men’s and women’s teams commenced Thursday’s start of the 3-day meet on their repeat championship timetable.
Thanks to freshman weight man Ruben Banks throwing his weight around in the 35-pound weight throw, Coach Chris Bucknam’s Razorbacks’ seven team points were only a point off Bucknam’s first day projections.
Franks’ 71-0 3/4 netted five fourth-place team points, offsetting a mildly disappointing seventh-place two team points from the distance medley relay.
Bucknam knows the DMR would have scored higher anchoring distance star Amon Kemboi but he wants Kemboi fresh for his mile and 3,000-meter double scheduled close together Saturday.
“The DMR we’re trying to win the meet so we can’t put all our stars in every event,” Bucknam said. “If we are a point off today we will be vying for championship.”
Franks and heptathletes Markus Ballengee, Daniel Spejcher and Etamar Bhastekar made the day for Bucknam and men’s field events coach Mario Sategna.
“Ruben Franks did a phenomenal job for a freshman,” Bucknam said. “Those weightmen are like distance runners, the older they get the stronger they get. For him to get fourth place as a freshman in this league he’s going to be a star some day.”
In the 2-day seven-event heptathlon, Razorbacks Markus Ballengee, Daniel Spejcher and Etamar Bhastekar sit second, fifth and seventh for top eight team scoring positions with three events remaining Friday.
“Our heptathletes did a phenomenal job,” Bucknam said. “All had personal bests for their first day point totals. I thought we had a really good day.”
Harter’s nationally No. 1 Razorbacks scored 10 team points Thursday with third places in the distance medley and from GG Edwards in the pentathlon.
Running a B-team that Harter said was “closer to a C team” keeping his “heavy hitters” fresh for the mile, 3,000 and 5.000,
the Logan Morris mile anchored DMR ran 11:00.46 just behind Florida’s 11:00.31 and Alabama’s meet record 10:59.21.
“That B team without our main runners on it still ran fast enough to qualify for nationals with one of the top times in the nation,” Harter saId. “They did a fantastic job.”
A hyperextended knee put Edwards’ SEC meet availability in doubt two weeks ago.
“Our medical team put her back together and she ended up posting her lifetime best and jumped one of the top long jumps in the United States,”Harter said. “Credit to Bryan (Compton) and Chris (Johnson, the assistants co-coaching the pentathlon.”
On where his reigning triple crown (both SEC and NCAA reigning Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor Track champions) take it from here, Harter said Thursday “We’re going to be fine. The heavy hitters will fire up starting tomorrow.”