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Courtesy: Walt Beazley
Andrew Irwin is the defending SEC indoor champion in the pole vault.
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No. 1 Razorbacks begin title defense Friday

02/21/2013
Zach Lawson, Athletic Media Relations
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FAYETTEVILLE – The top-ranked University of Arkansas men’s track and field team begins the championship portion of its schedule with the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships this weekend. The indoor conference meet will be contested Feb. 22-24 at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks are serving as the host of the SEC indoor meet for the seventh time.

The 2013 SEC Indoor Championships begin Friday at 1 p.m. (CT) with the multi-event competitions. Action on Saturday and Sunday starts at 10 a.m. with the weight throw at Walker Pavilion and noon at the Randal Tyson Track Center. For tickets, visit the Razorback Ticket Center on Razorback Road by Baum Stadium, log on to the online ticket office at ArkansasRazorbacks.com or call 800/982-HOGS (4647).   

“The SEC meet is circled on our calendar, that’s for sure,” head coach Chris Bucknam said. “It’s a big meet for us. We’re looking forward to having all the conference schools here at our great facility. The track is in great shape. Our people have been working hard to prepare for this big event. We had a week off to rest up and start fine tuning. We now enter the championship season and it’s all for keeps now.”

Arkansas is the defending SEC team champion, and since joining the conference in 1991-92, the Razorbacks have racked up 18 SEC indoor crowns including three (2009-10, 2012) under Bucknam. Dating back to the 2011 SEC outdoor meet, Arkansas has won the last five conference competitions including last year’s Triple Crown run. Last year, the Razorbacks scored 151 points to secure the team title in Lexington, Ky.

As a program, Arkansas has 94 SEC event titles and is the defending champion in the 200 meters (Marek Niit), mile (Patrick Rono), pole vault (Andrew Irwin) and the distance-medley relay. All three individual champions return to defend their titles.

“We certainly want to keep things going,” Bucknam said. “We pride ourselves in having a winning culture. Winning the SEC Championship is first and foremost. I’ve said it before. It’s our first line of defense. When you can compete and win in the best league in the country for track and field, you have a shot going further at the national championships.”

Heading into this weekend’s SEC Indoor Championships, Arkansas owns the top conference spot in seven events with Rono at 800 meters, Kemoy Campbell at 3,000 meters, Stanley Kebenei at 5,000 meters, Caleb Cross in the 60-meter hurdles, Tarik Batchelor in the triple jump, Kevin Lazas in the heptathlon and in the distance-medley relay. Batchelor’s mark of 16.38m/53-9 is also tied for the No. 1 jump in the NCAA.

Based on this week’s release of the USTFCCCA national poll, the top-three teams in the country and five of the top 20 will be in action this weekend at the Tyson Center. In addition to the No. 1-ranked Razorbacks, the field will include No. 2 Florida, No. 3 Texas A&M, No. 16 LSU and No. 19 Ole Miss. Missouri and Texas A&M are making their debuts at the SEC Indoor Championships as the newest members of the league.

ESPN3.com will carry the SEC Indoor Championships with coverage set for Saturday and Sunday. Commentary duties will be handled by Dwight Stones (play-by-play), Larry Rawson (color analyst) and Lewis Johnson (sideline reporter). ArkansasRazorbacks.com will stream Friday’s events with early Saturday and Sunday coverage. A tape-delay television broadcast of the conference meet will air March 13 at 8:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

The official hash tag of the 2013 SEC Indoor Championships is #SECTF. For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com. Fans can also keep up with Arkansas cross country and track and field through the team’s sport-specific RazorbackTF Facebook and Twitter pages.

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