FAYETTEVILLE – Head coach Chris Bucknam and the No. 11 University of Arkansas men’s track and field team has announced the signing of five student-athletes to National Letters of Intent for the 2011-12 season. This marks the third Razorback recruiting class for Bucknam and his staff.
The first wave of Arkansas’ 2011-12 recruiting class includes Kyle Dunn (Marion, Iowa), Andrew Irwin (Mt. Ida, Ark.), Anthony May II (Hoover, Ala.), Gunnar Nixon (Edmond, Okla.) and Devin Randall (Bartlesville, Okla.). This group includes the No. 1-ranked prep decathlete in 2010 (Nixon), top-rankedpole vaulter (Irwin)and the second-ranked 400-meter hurdler (Dunn).
"Overall, I am absolutely thrilled with our start to the recruiting season," Bucknam said. "We have attracted a phenomenal group of student-athletes that helps our goal of having tremendous depth across the board. Our expectation is to contend for SEC and NCAA titles every year and these are the type of athletes we need to bring to Fayetteville to do that. They are bright, talented and motivated young men that want to achieve at the highest level. This is currently a very good Razorback track and field team, and we’re going to get even better. Again, this is a great start to the recruiting season, but we’re not done yet."
Dunn is a native of Marion, Iowa, and specializes in the hurdle events. Following a stellar junior season, he was ranked No. 2 in the country in the 400-meter hurdles and named the Gatorade Track and Field Athlete of the Year for the state of Iowa. Dunn is a two-time state champion in the 400-meter hurdles, owns an addition state title in the 400 meters and has a runner-up performance in the 110-meter hurdles. He is also a Drake Relays champion in both hurdle events.
Among his many accolades, he earned all-state honors as a freshman, sophomore and junior. Dunn has personal bests of 14.20 in the 110-meter hurdles, 48.33 in the 400 meters and 51.41 and in the 400-meter hurdles.
"Kyle Dunn is going to make a tremendous impact in our program with his versatility," Bucknam said. "He’s a great 400 hurdler, of course, but also has exceptional skills in the 110-meter hurdles. He is also capable of adding depth to our 4×400 relay. Kyle is a very talented and bright young man. He will definitely add to the terrific group of sprinters and hurdles Coach Case has put together for our program. We are very excited our university and track and field program have attracted him to Fayetteville."
Irwin is a native of Mt. Ida, Ark., and specializes in the pole vault. He is the junior-class national record holder in the event with a clearance of 17-6.25 and owns the top mark by a high school athlete early in the 2011 season. In 2010, Irwin was selected as Arkansas’ Gatorade Track and Field Athlete of the Year and won the pole vault title at the Meet of Champions. Along the way, he posted a clearance of 17-6, the best prep mark in the country last season.
Also during an outstanding junior season, he was the runner-up at the Nike Indoor National and New Balance Outdoor National meets. Irwin is a three-time Arkansas state champion in the pole vault and has six District-2A titles to his credit.
"Andrew Irwin is a home grown talent," Bucknam said. "He has been coached by Morry Sanders and his father Steve Irwin who have done an outstanding job in developing him into a national-level vaulter. He’s got the size and skills to make an impact on the NCAA level right away. He is absolutely the best high school vaulter in the country which gives us great depth in the vault for next year. There are certainly some exciting things on the horizon for the Arkansas pole vaulters."
May is a native of Hoover, Ala., and specializes in the jumps. He comes to Fayetteville following a stint at South Plains Junior College in Texas where he was a member of the 2010 NJCAA national outdoor champions. May helped the team to the title with third- and seventh-place performances in the high jump and long jump, respectively. In the high jump, he was the winner at the 2010 and 2011 Texas Tech Open and had a fifth-place showing at the 2010 Texas Relays.
During his prep career at Hoover High School, May was a three-time state champion in the high jump and set the Alabama Class 6A state record with a clearance of 7-0.75 as a junior. In a display of his all-around capabilities, he was runner-up at the state meet in the decathlon. At the 2009 Junior Olympics, he came away with a second-place result in the high jump and a fourth-place finish in the decathlon. He owns personal bests of 7-3 in the high jump, 24-3 in the long jump and 50-4 in the triple jump.
"Anthony is arguably the best all-around junior college jumper in the nation," Bucknam said. "He has tremendous skills in all three jumps. Primarily a high jumper out of high school, he has honed his skills at South Plains Junior College to be an SEC and NCAA threat in all three events. It’s going to be especially exciting to have that 1-2-3 punch with (Tarik) Batchelor, (Raymond) Higgs and Anthony in the horizontal jumps as well as the added depth in the high jump."
Nixon is a native of Edmond, Okla., and specializes in the multi events. He was ranked No. 1 nationally among high school decathletes in 2010; current Razorback freshmen Kevin Lazas and Nathanael Franks were ranked second and third, respectively. Nixon set a national junior-class record with 7,573 points in the decathlon at the Arcadia Invitational. At the Nike Indoor National meet, he won the pentathlon with 4,141 points, a national junior-class record, a meet record and the No. 2 all-time high school total.
Nixon is a three-time USATF decathlon champion, setting the intermediate national record in the event with 7,000 points in 2009. His victory in 2008 came during the first decathlon competition of his prep career. He also owns a pair of Oklahoma state titles in the 300-meter hurdles and high jump. Nixon owns personals bests of 14.00 in the 110-meter hurdles, 7-0 in the high jump and has run a split of 46.8 in the 4×400-meter relay.
"Gunnar is undoubtedly one of the best all-around athletes in the country," Bucknam said. "Adding him to our crew just made one of the best decathlon groups in the country even stronger. Gunnar is certainly talented, but also has the savvy with big-meet experience. Coach Geopfert has developed one of the best combined-event programs in the country and Arkansas fans will have a great group to watch and cheer for in the coming years. Needless to say he is a terrific young man and a prize recruit. We are very excited to have him as a Razorback."
Randall is a native of Bartlesville, Okla., and specializes in the shot put and discus. On the base of two top-10 finishes as a freshman and sophomore at Bartlesville High School, Randall broke through to earn state titles in the shot put and discus during his junior year. Following his impressive showing in the ring events, he was named to the Oklahoma All-State First Team and earned All-Metro Team honors from the Tulsa World.
As a sophomore, he helped the Bruins to the Centennial Conference team championship. He owns personal bests of 61-5 in the shot put and 185-2 in the discus. In addition to his prowess in the throws, Randall was also a four-year letterwinner for the Bartlesville football team and earned all-state honors.
"Devin Randall is a phenomenal athlete that has chosen to use his skills as a thrower," Bucknam said. "Those are the type of throwers we like. He’s got great size and moves very well through the ring. He’s a very well-rounded student-athlete that will be a major contributor to our program. He is the shot in the arm we need to put Arkansas on the map in the throws. That is definitely an area where we are trying to create more depth."
Arkansas track and field returns to action Feb. 11-12 by hosting the Tyson Invitational at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville. For more home meet information, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.