BATON ROUGE, La. – Defending champion and the sixth-ranked University of Arkansas men’s track and field team begins its championship season this weekend with the 2012 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Competition begins Thursday with the start of the decathlon and runs through Sunday at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.
Live coverage of the conference meet will air on ESPN3.com on Saturday and Sunday. That coverage will air Saturday from 4:30-7:15 p.m. (CT) and Sunday from 3-7 p.m. Dwight Stones, Larry Rawson and Lewis Johnson will have the call of the action. A two-hour highlight show recapping the SEC Championships will air Wednesday, May 23, at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.
"We know what’s at stake," assistant coach Doug Case said. "Overall, we just do what we can do. We always speak to the guys about just ‘doing your thing.’ You don’t have to go crazy or try to do anything more than you’re capable. If we go in and do the things we’re capable of doing, we have a very good chance of winning this week."
The Razorbacks are the defending SEC team champion and junior Marek Niit is the league’s returning champion at 200 meters. With its victory at the cross country and indoor meets earlier this season, Arkansas is looking for its first conference triple crown under head coach Chris Bucknam, its 13th since joining the SEC in 1991-92 and its 22nd overall. The program last pulled off the accomplishment during the 2007-08 season.
Overall at the SEC outdoor meet, the Razorbacks have won 16 team crowns and 98 event titles. Two of those team titles (2009, 2011) have come under Bucknam. The last time the conference meet was held in Baton Rouge (2000), Arkansas won its ninth SEC outdoor team title. The program has won at least one event title at every outdoor meet since joining the conference, including nine victories in 1994. Last season, the Razorbacks won three event titles with Niit at 200 meters and Dorian Ulrey at 800 and 1,500 meters.
Arkansas moved back into the top 10 with the release of the May 8 release of the USTFCCCA national poll. The Razorbacks moved up five spots to No. 6, the second-highest ranked team in the SEC. Entering the conference meet, Arkansas is joined in the rankings by top-ranked Florida, host and No. 9 LSU, No. 11 Ole Miss, No. 12 Mississippi State, No. 13 Auburn and No. 19 Georgia.
Through the first six weeks of the outdoor campaign, Arkansas has collected four SEC-leading marks with Duncan Phillips at 1,500 meters (3:43.13), Lane Boyer at 10,000 meters (29:29.52), Andrew Irwin in the pole vault (5.60m/18-4.5) and Gunnar Nixon in the decathlon (7,660 points). Irwin, the SEC indoor champion, also leads the NCAA with his mark in the pole vault.
With the hope of extending their season deeper into the summer, three Razorbacks-in four events-have hit the ‘B’ qualifying standard for the U.S. Olympic Trials. That list includes Irwin in the pole vault, Nixon in the decathlon and Caleb Cross in the 110- and 400-meter hurdles. The 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials will be contested June 22-July 1 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
In addition to the ESPN3.com video schedule, meet coverage for the 2012 SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships will include meet results and an interactive blog. For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Weekend Blog ScheduleThursday, May 10 – 2:45 p.m. (start time)Friday, May 11 – 1:45 p.m.Saturday, May 12 – 4:15 p.m.Sunday, May 13 – 2:45 p.m.
ESPN3.com Video ScheduleSaturday, May 12 – 4:30-7:15 p.m.Sunday, May 13 – 3-7 p.m.
All Times Central
Download: Schedule – SEC Outdoor Championships.pdf