Rebuilding Razorbacks could make presence felt at NCAAS
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas’ rebuilding Razorbacks men’s track and field team don’t have the firepower to compete for the team title at at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships Wednesday and Friday in Austin, Texas.
But like Coach Chris Bucknam’s Razorbacks did overachieving for second place at both the SEC Indoor last March in Fayetteville and the SEC Outdoor last month in Fayetteville and a 13th place NCAA Indoor showing in Birmingham Alabama, they still could impact this
NCAA Outdoor championship meet.
They likely would especially impact if in the twoday decathlon Wednesday and Thursday, the lone men’s event Thursday with the NCAA Women’s Outdoor otherwise commanding the University of
Texas’ Clyde Littlefield Track, on Thursday and Saturday, if Arkansas senior Gabe Moore hadn’t pulled a hamstring during the SEC Outdoor decathlon.
Moore was second in both the SEC and NCAA Indoor heptathlon and leading the SEC Outdoor decathlon when he pulled the hamstring with two of the 10 events remaining. He ended up fifth and isn’t fully healed though he wants to try it for his college go-round.
“He’s working real hard,” Bucknam said with the Hogs still training last week in Fayetteville before Monday’s flight to Austin. “It’s 24/7 treatment. The medical staff is doing a great job. We’re just hopeful that he’ll be feeling nearly 100 percent and can go. That’s obviously our big concern right now.”
At Austin, senior Cameron Griffith, the NCAA Indoor 3,000meter runner-up and SEC Outdoor 1,500 meters runner-up, in the 1,500, and in the 10,000 junior Gilbert Boit, the SEC Cross Country champion, SEC Indoor 5,000 champion and SEC Outdoor 5,000 champion and SEC Outdoor 10,000 runner-up, are Razorbacks with strong chances to score.
“Cam’s got a shot to win,” Bucknam said. “He got in the final last year.
It’s all about positioning and confidence at this stage of the game. He’s got experience and we’re not getting ahead of ourselves. He’s got to get through the (Wednesday) semifinal round. So that’s all we’re focused on right now. Let’s get to the (Friday) final. That’s our No. 1 priority.”
Boit just missed also qualifying in the 5,000 at the NCAA West Preliminary meet in Sacramento, California, after qualifying in the 10K.
“He nearly made it in the 5K,” Bucknam said. “He got out-leaned at the tape for fourth and fifth place and the top five qualified. He was one-hundredth of a second from getting in the 5K as well but overall I think it’s best that he’s going in focused on one race. It’s hard to double at this level at this stage. He’s ready for this 10K race.”
At Sacramento, Bucknam said, “Cameron looked great in the 1,500. Boit looked great in the 10K.”
Sprints coach Doug
Case has Rashad Boyd in the NCAA Outdoor 200meter dash off a lifetime best 20.78 qualifying in Sacramento and advanced both the 4x100 relay (Josh Oglesby out of the blocks to Boyd who passed to Tre’bien Gilbert to senior anchor Roy Ejiakuekwu) and the 4x400 relay of John Winn of Bryant, Hunter Woodhall, Travean Caldwell and Rhayko Schwartz to Austin.
Regarding team goals, Bucknam said, “We’re just trying to hang on to the rope. We finished 13th indoors. Obviously a Top Ten finish for us would be a huge victory for us.”
Who does Bucknam believe will win the team trophy.
“Texas Tech ranks No. 1 but they were ranked top indoors, too,” Bucknam said. “So I think always a scary team to me is Florida (the NCAA Indoor champion) because of (superstar sprinter-hurdler-jumper) Grant Holloway. LSU (the SEC Outdoor champion) is really, really good but their 4x400 didn’t get in. One of their guys pulled a muscle during the (West Preliminary) semifinal.”