FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – While student-athletes in the sport of track and field often stand alone at the line, on the runway or in the circle, it’s generally the thought of representing the program emblazoned on their chest that drives them to compete at their best.
They ‘put on’ for their team: embracing the pressure, the fear, the uncertainty of what is to come when the gun goes off or they enter into that first rotation. It’s the knowledge that when the dust settles at the end of a lengthy, multi-day competition that their contribution mattered.
In a traditional track and field meet, a relay event completes the day of competition. Each team rallies behind four members of their program, championing them while the relay squads shoulder the weight of being a school’s final chance at glory. Student-athletes long done with their events are roused from sleep or are hustling back from medical tents to rally their teammates. A fusion of multiple school chants can be heard aloud from afar.
Meanwhile the four members are ready, dialed in and deaf to commotion around them, awaiting the starter’s gun.
“I think of myself as a team player. I’m not on relays for myself, I do it for my team.”
-Jarrion Lawson, 2015 NCAA outdoor 4-x-100-meter relay champion
“Coming here [to Arkansas] and feeling needed and a definite piece of our DMR national championship history was pretty incredible. The environment we create for each other is what helps us succeed.”
-Therese Haiss, 2015 NCAA indoor DMR champion
The thoughts of the two Razorbacks athletes referenced above are not unique to them or Arkansas but are the sentiments of the majority if not all track and field student-athletes who have ever been privileged enough to represent their program in a relay at any level, at any meet.
Scheduled for April 27-28 at John McDonnell Field the National Relay Championships is an event focused on cultivating a new era of spirited relay rivalry between historically dominant programs. While there will be time allotted for individual action on day one of the meet the crux of the event will come in the form of a condensed two-hour television-friendly all-relay competition on day two, scheduled for 6-7:45 p.m. CT.
61st Annual Track & Field News Relay Rankings
In the October 2017 issue of The Bible of the Sport, Arkansas’ men got the nod as the top relay program, edging out conference rival Texas A&M.
The column, compiled by Walt Murphy featured 11 out of the 16 programs set to attend the National Relay Championships ranked among the top-10 best in the country in a one or more relays (eight total). Arkansas men and Virginia Tech men topped the lists in the 4-x-200 and 4-x-800, respectively.
National Relay Championships
With 16 of the most respected track and field programs from around the country journeying to Northwest Arkansas for the newly-minted National Relays Championships is set to become the premier collegiate relay competition in the nation.
Modeled after the flourishing, biennial IAAF World Relays, the National Relay Championships aims to invoke a spirited rivalry among the most competitive and historical college programs in track and field in advance of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Power Five Teams (16):
SEC (4): Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee,
ACC (3): Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech
Big 10 (3): Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin
Big 12 (5): Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas
PAC 12 (1): Stanford
National Relay Championships Teams Success by the Numbers
• 116 NCAA Relay Titles
• At least one NCAA relay champion every year since 1994
• 2017 Men’s NCAA Relay Finalists
-DMR: Virginia Tech (2nd), Oklahoma State (6th), Arkansas (7th), Stanford (12th)
-4-x-400: Florida (2nd), Arkansas (3rd), Texas (7th), Kansas (11th)
-4-x-100: Texas (5th), Arkansas (7th)
-4-x-400: Arkansas (2nd), Florida (4th)
• 2017 Women’s NCAA Relay Finalists
-DMR: Stanford (2nd), Michigan (5th), Kansas (7th), Arkansas (11th)
-4-x-400: Baylor (5th), Miami (7th), Florida (8th), Arkansas (11th)
-4-x-100: Kentucky (1st), Florida (3rd), Arkansas (6th)
-4-x-400: Texas (5th), Florida (6th), Miami (7th)
For more information on Arkansas track and field including in-meet updates, follow @RazorbackTF on Twitter.