Werner Pro, Big Meet Awaits

Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE – Redshirted last 2020 season indoors for senior eligibility this indoor track and field season and with covid-19 concerns cancelling 2020 spring sports making her eligible this outdoor track and field season with senior eligibility, Arkansas Razorbacks 6-time women’smAll-American distance runner Taylor Werner is passing up both upon accepting an offer too good to refuse.

Werner has signed a professional ton run for the Puma shoes and sports apparel company.

“Puma has made her a great offer,” Arkansas Women’s Coach Lance Harter said at Wednesday’s joint press conference with Arkansas Men’s Coach Chris Bucknam advancing the Razorbacks Invitational that Arkansas hosts Friday and Saturday at the Randal Tyson Indoor Track. “It’s a great opportunity for her entering the pro ranks, an opportunity too good to pass up. Obviously we will miss her a lot. We will be her greatest fan and she always will be a Razorback for life. She didn’t win a national individual but was instrumental in all three national team titles.”

Werner was the 2019 SEC Runner of the Year and 2-time SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Regarding their active Razorbacks, Harter and Bucknam were asked about nationally leading Razorbacks Lauren Gregory for the women and Amon Kemboi for the men and their assignments for a Razorback Invitational meet featuring SEC teams Georgia, Ole Miss and Mississippi State, Iowa State of the Big 12 and Pac 12 teams Southern California, Oregon and Colorado.

Stanford’s women have withdrawn from the meet because of too many covid-19 quarantines, Harter said, and Oregon’s women’s distance have been hit hard by absences, too.

The depletion in the distances altered Harter’s plan to run a NCAA Indoor qualifying distance medley and Friday. Instead he’s running Gregory, the NCAA’s 3,000-meter leader after clocking 9:01.44 in last week’s Woo Pig Invitational here, and All-American teammate Katie Izzo and Clemson transfer Logan Morris trying to qualify for the NCAA Indoor in Friday’s 5,000-meters and push some of their young teammates to top 24 in the SEC marks needed to run in the SEC Championship meet.

Arkansas hosts both the SEC Indoor Championships,Feb. 25-27 and the NCAA Indoor Championships March 11-13.

Kemboi, running a nationally leading 3:58.26 mile winning last week at Woo Pig, runs double duty this weekend anchoring the mile of Arkansas’ distance medley relay Friday and coming back in Saturday’s 3,000 meter run.

Nationally Bucknam’s Razorbacks, the 2020 SEC Indoor champions, and Harter’s Razorbacks, the 2020 SEC Indoor champions and the national champions the last time NCAA Cross Country NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor championships were run pre-covid, rank No. 1 in the indoor season’s first poll released by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

“We have put up some good marks the first couple of weeks,” Bucknam said. “It means we’re moving in the right direction.”

Harter, whose Hogs also sport the nationally leading 4 x 400 women’s relay, said, “The gurus look at we have a very balanced team except for the throws.”

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