Re­build­ing Ra­zor­backs could make pres­ence felt at NCAAS

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - By Nate Allen

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.”

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