FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Top-five national finishes by both the men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams has landed Arkansas at No. 21 in the first winter standings of the 2016-17 Learfield Directors’ Cup released Thursday morning by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of America (NACDA). The Directors’ Cup tracks the nation’s most successful intercollegiate athletics programs for their performances throughout the year.
The Razorbacks have earned a total of 150 points in the competition through the first winter sports segment. Arkansas is one of only four Southeastern Conference (SEC) programs in the top 25 of the first winter standings.
In addition to men’s and women’s cross country, football, women’s swimming and diving and men’s and women’s indoor track and field, the standings released on Thursday included women’s field hockey, skiing, rifle, women’s hockey, wrestling and men’s water polo.
The Arkansas men’s track and field team completed its 2017 indoor campaign with a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas. The Razorbacks were led by senior Clive Pullen who jumped his way back onto the top of the triple jump podium, earning the second NCAA national title of his career. The top-five finish earned Arkansas 75 Directors’ Cup points.
Arkansas tallied an additional 75 points when the women’s track and field team also earned a fifth-place national finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships. The Razorbacks scored championship team points in four events, including 12 points in the pentathlon, led by national runner-up Taliyah Brooks. Arkansas earned 8.5 points in the pole vault with three top eight finishers.
Arkansas earned a total of 205 points in the fall segment of the competition, led by a pair of top 20 performances from its cross country programs. The men’s cross country team earned 75 points by returning to the top five of the NCAA Cross Country meet for the first time in a decade. The Razorbacks’ top-five team finish was their best performance since 2006. Arkansas has ranked in the top 10 nationally in four of the past seven seasons. Arkansas women’s cross country raced to a 19th-place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championship, earning 55 points. Arkansas has now finished as a top-20 national cross country power five years in a row, dating back to its 14th-place finish at the 2011 national meet.
The Razorback soccer program earned 50 points for its historic 18-5-1 season marked by several program milestones, including finishing ranked No. 19 in the final National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Top 25 poll. The Razorbacks secured wins over two top-five programs at home (No. 2 – Duke, No. 4 – Florida) as well as eight SEC victories and a nine-game home win streak, both school records. Arkansas advanced to the championship match of the SEC Tournament and hosted its first NCAA Tournament match in program history, earning a thrilling 2-1 win over Memphis in overtime.
Faced with the most competitive home schedule in Razorback Football history, Arkansas won seven games, including its first win over SEC Eastern Division Champion and No. 11 Florida in 34 years. The Razorbacks advanced to their third-consecutive bowl game playing ACC Coastal Champion Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl. The loss to Virginia Tech was the first for Coach Bielema at Arkansas after back-to-back bowl victories. Arkansas tallied 25 points from its third-consecutive football bowl appearance.
Last year in the 2015-16 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup, Arkansas tallied 820 points and finished 23rd, the eighth top 30 finish in the past nine years. The Razorbacks’ also earned a top-25 finish in the final rankings for the sixth time since the previously independent men’s and women’s athletics programs were combined in 2008.
The Directors’ Cup program has been tracking the success of the nation’s top intercollegiate athletics programs since 1993-94.