– As voted on by the conference’s head coaches, the University of Arkansas’ Chris Bucknam
has been named the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year while Cale Wallace was voted the SEC Freshman of the Year a week removed from the Razorbacks’ team victory at the 2012 SEC Cross Country Championships.
Arkansas’ win at the conference meet was the team’s third-straight SEC cross country title and 20th overall since joining the league in 1991-92. The victory marked the Razorbacks’ ninth overall SEC title under Bucknam with three cross country (2010-12), three indoor track and field (2009-10, 2012) and three outdoor track and field (2009, 2011-12) titles. Dating back to the 2011 SEC Outdoor Championships, Arkansas has won five consecutive SEC competitions, including last season’s Triple Crown performance.
“That was a great effort by our guys,” Bucknam said. “I’m really proud of them. It’s a nervy meet. It’s one of those meets that can clutch you up pretty easily but I thought our kids handled it well and did a great job. Obviously, we were happy to win it. Anytime you can win an SEC Championship, it’s a special event.”
Wallace was the top freshman performer at the SEC Championships with a 14th-place finish and was the only freshman to finish inside the top 30 at the conference meet. For his performance, he was named to the All-SEC Second Team and SEC All-Freshman Team. Wallace crossed the finish line of his first career SEC meet with a season-best 8K time of 24:17.79.
The Cypress, Texas, native earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors following his part in Arkansas’ second-place performance at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational in September. Through the first four races of his collegiate career, Wallace finished within the Razorback scoring lineup on three occasions.
“For Cale Wallace to have his best race of the year in the most important race of the year bodes well for the future,” Bucknam said of his freshman runner. “He did a great job. We talked about his race up in Wisconsin where he just got throw in to the wolves. He hadn’t seen anything like that before. Sometimes you learn more from those races than from the one you run well. He made the adjustments and finished in the top 15.”
Behind three top-four finishes, the Razorbacks opened their championship season with a team title at the SEC meet Oct. 26 in Nashville, Tenn., at Percy Warner Park. In addition to the All-SEC accolades for Wallace, Arkansas picked up First-Team honors for Solomon Haile
(second place), Eric Fernandez
(third) and Kemoy Campbell
(fourth) and Second-Team recognition for Layne Nixon
The postseason schedule continues Friday, Nov. 9 on Arkansas’ home course as Fayetteville serves as the host site for the 2012 NCAA South Central Regional Championships. The men’s 10K race is scheduled for a 12:15 p.m. (CT) start at Agri Park. Arkansas, the No. 10 team in the nation, is the second-ranked team in the region. The top two teams at the region meet earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Championships in Louisville, Ky. This year’s national meet will be contested in Louisville, Ky.
For more information regarding Razorback cross country or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com. Fans can also keep up with Arkansas cross country and track and field with the team’s sport-specific RazorbackTF Facebook and Twitter pages.