FAYETTEVILLE – On the heels of its NCAA indoor title, the No. 2 University of Arkansas men’s track and field team is set to begin its outdoor campaign Saturday at the Texas State Elite meet in San Marcos, Texas. Competition at the spring opener is scheduled for 9 a.m. (CT) with the field events, while action on the track will get started at 1 p.m. at the Texas State facility.
Saturday’s meet is scheduled to be a scored competition and will feature a five-team lineup. In addition to the Razorbacks, the event will include No. 4 Texas, No. 12 UCLA, UT-San Antonio and host Texas State. The top two performers from each team in each event will count toward the team scoring.
“There’s not a lot of rest between the end of indoor season and the start of the outdoor season,” head coach Chris Bucknam said. “We fire things back up Saturday at Texas State. It’s a chance for us to restart the whole thing and get things ready for the outdoor season. This is one of those early season meets where the guys that didn’t compete (at NCAAs) get a lot of the attention while the other guys get some good training in.
“We’ll pace ourselves like we did indoors with the feeling that we may have something better down the road in May and June. We’ll get after it again this weekend. We’ll get our feet back on the ground and attack this outdoor season.”
Last season, the Razorbacks finished eighth at the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, with 26 points. Arkansas returns seven 2012 outdoor All-Americans in Neil Braddy (400m, 4x100m, 4x400m), Caleb Cross (110mH, 400mH, 4x100m), Akheem Gauntlett (400m, 4x100m, 4x400m), Raymond Higgs (long jump), Kevin Lazas (decathlon), Marek Niit (4x100m, 4x400m) and Travis Southard (4x400m).
The 2013 postseason will feature the SEC Championships (May 9-12) in Columbia, Mo.; NCAA West Preliminary (May 23-25) in Austin, Texas; and NCAA Championships (June 5-8) in Eugene, Ore. Arkansas will host five meets in Fayetteville this spring, including next weekend’s Spring Invitational at John McDonnell Field.
The Razorbacks are one of eight teams from the SEC positioned inside the preseason top 25, and one of five in the top 10. The SEC leads the country with its eight entries in this week’s poll. Arkansas is joined in the preseason rankings by top-ranked Texas A&M, No. 3 Florida, No. 5 Auburn, No. 10 LSU, No. 11 Ole Miss, No. 14 Mississippi State and No. 24 Georgia. Preseason projections are based on the 2012 outdoor season—previous for redshirt competitors—and the early portions of the 2013 outdoor season.
Individually, Arkansas has 12 top-10 event rankings including No. 1 spots for Higgs in the long jump and Andrew Irwin in the pole vault. Irwin is the two-time defending NCAA indoor champion in the pole vault while Higgs was the SEC champion in the long jump last season. Other top-five event rankings belong to Gauntlett at 400 meters, Lazas in the decathlon and Tarik Batchelor in the long jump.
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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