Courtesy: Zach Lawson, Athletic Media Relations
Travis Geopfert is in his 10th overall year as a collegiate track and field coach, and fourth season as the Razorbacks’ field events coach and recruiting coordinator. Prior to joining the Arkansas staff, he spent six years at the University of Northern Iowa where he served as the head coach of the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field programs during the 2008-09 season.
In nine seasons of coaching, Geopfert has coached three NCAA national champions, 42 All-Americans, 72 NCAA national qualifiers, 58 conference champions and 98 all-conference performers. His resume also includes 26 USA Championships and Olympic Trials qualifiers, two World Championships qualifiers and one Olympian.
Under Geopfert’s watch, the Razorback multi-event competitors emerged on all levels. Kevin Lazas and Gunnar Nixon both earned All-America honors in 2012 with respective NCAA finishes of third and eighth indoors and third and fifth outdoors. Lazas also won the SEC title in the decathlon to become the first Razorback to accomplish that feat. Lazas and Nixon also rewrote the Arkansas records with Lazas scoring 7,955 points in the decathlon and Nixon setting the school, world junior and American junior record in the heptathlon with 6,022 points.
Nixon went on to win decathlon gold at the 2012 World Junior Championships in Barcelona with an American junior record 8,018 points, just two points more than the previous record set by Lazas in 2011. With senior Terry Prentice qualifying for the national meet, Arkansas was the only school in the country with three decathletes at the NCAA Championships.
The success of Geopfert’s athletes didn’t end with the multi events. At the SEC Outdoor Championships, his athletes scored 41 points for the Razorbacks. Raymond Higgs won the SEC long jump title with a then-world leading mark of 27-5.75. For the fourth time—in six indoor and outdoor SEC competitions—a Geopfert-coached long jumper won the conference title. Higgs garnered his third All-America honor later in the season and went on to represent his native Bahamas at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
Geopfert’s high jumpers also excelled during the 2012 season with Brede Ellingsen, Dwayne Golbek and Noah Kittelson all capping the seven-foot mark. Both Kittelson and Ellingsen set personal bests of 7-3.25 and 7-3, respectively, while breaking into Arkansas’ all-time top 10. Kittelson punched his ticket to the NCAA Indoor Championships where he earned second-team All-America accolades.
During his first season in Fayetteville, Lazas was a two-time All-American in the heptathlon and decathlon and set school and American junior records in both events. He was also the runner-up at both the SEC Indoor and Outdoor Championships in the combined events. The success carried over into the summer season as Lazas set the American junior record in the decathlon and won gold medals in the event at the 2011 USA Junior and Pan American Junior Championships.
The jumpers also had tremendous success in 2011 with Tarik Batchelor (26-10.5) and Higgs (26-9) finishing in second and third place, respectively, at the SEC Outdoor Championships. During the indoor season, the duo went finished first and seventh in the long jump. Batchelor’s indoor success included marks of 26-5.5 in the long jump and 54-1.5 in the triple jump. During the summer season, Higgs won the Bahamas’ national title in the long jump and represented the country at the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.
The high jumpers added valuable points with three athletes scoring at both the indoor and outdoor conference meets. All told, Geopfert’s field-event athletes scored 80 points at the SEC Championships, scoring 40 points at both the indoor and outdoor competitions.
In his first season with the Razorbacks, Geopfert coached long jumpers Alain Bailey and Batchelor to a 1-2 finish at the 2010 SEC Indoor Championships and first- and third-place finishes, respectively, at the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships. Their best indoor marks of 26-9.75 and 26-6.5, respectively, ranked first and third in the NCAA and seventh and 11th in the world for the 2010 indoor season.
The success continued during the outdoor campaign with Bailey grabbing the SEC title with a personal-best and a then-world leading jump of 27-4.75. Batchelor showed he is a dual threat with fourth-place finishes in both the SEC Indoor and Outdoor triple jump. He also earned NCAA bids in both indoor and outdoor campaigns.
Also during the 2010 season, Geopfert mentored professional athlete Joe Detmer to become the 66th decathlete in American history to score over 8,000 points. Detmer finished third at the USA Championships with a career-best point total of 8,009 points.
He was selected as the decathlon coach for the 2009 USA vs. Germany Thorpe Cup by USA Track and Field. Geopfert, with Mario Sategna of the University of Texas’ men’s track and field staff, lead Team USA’s decathletes to a victory over Team Germany. Members of Team USA included three-time Olympian Tom Pappas, 2004 Olympian Paul Terek and three-time Thorpe Cup qualifier Detmer. Geopfert, himself, was a three-time participant in the Thorpe Cup (2003, 2005, 2006).
As UNI’s head coach in 2008-09, Geopfert led the Panthers to the Missouri Valley Conference Indoor and Outdoor team titles and was named the 2009 MVC Indoor and Outdoor Coach of the Year. During his time as head coach, Geopfert’s student-athletes earned four All-America honors and captured 18 MVC event titles. In 2009, Geopfert coached eight NCAA and 15 regional qualifiers, in addition to five student-athletes who competed at the 2009 USA Championships.
The UNI men’s team swept the 2009 MVC Outdoor awards with Geopfert winning MVC Coach of the Year, Cory Goos winning MVC Track Athlete of the Year, Mat Clark earning MVC Field Event Athlete of the Year and Terrance Reid named the MVC High Point Scorer. In 2008, Geopfert was named the USTFCCCA Midwest Region Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year.
He coached five-time All-American Raven Cepeda to the No. 7 all-time NCAA heptathlon score. Cepeda was ranked 12th in the world in 2008. He currently holds the MVC and school records in both the heptathlon and decathlon. He was named the MVC Athlete of the Year four times during his career. Cepeda was also a two-time NCAA Midwest Region Field Event Athlete of the Year.
Under Geopfert’s guidance, Cepeda became the first MVC student-athlete to win four indoor heptathlon titles. Additionally, Cepeda won three-straight MVC outdoor decathlon titles.
At the 2008 NCAA Indoor Championships, UNI was the only school to qualify two athletes for each of the multi-event competitions. Cepeda and Mat Clark each earned All-America honors in the men’s heptathlon, while Dani Stipe and Olimpia Nowak both competed in the women’s pentathlon. Additionally, UNI also boasted two competitors in the men’s high jump competition with Ehi Oamen finishing third.
Additionally, Geopfert coached three of the 19 decathletes at the 2008 USA Olympic Trials in Cepeda, Clark and Detmer.
Prior to his return to UNI, Geopfert served as assistant track and field coach at Central Missouri. During the 2003 indoor season, Geopfert’s athletes scored 25 points at the NCAA Championships, including NCAA titles in the high jump and triple jump.
During his time as a student-athlete at UNI, Geopfert was an All-American and a three-time MVC Champion. During his post-collegiate career, he was a two-time Drake Relays decathlon champion, a three-time member of the U.S. vs. Germany decathlon duel team and a six-time USA Championships decathlon qualifier.
Originally from Panora, Iowa, Geopfert earned his bachelor’s degree from UNI in 2002. He, his wife Nicole and son Jones, reside in Fayetteville.
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