FAYETTEVILLE – Prior to the start of its 2012 season, the University of Arkansas men’s track and field team is being recognized for its incoming group. The Razorbacks are ranked fourth by Track & Field News in the publication’s list of the top 10 recruiting classes in the country. This group represents the third recruiting class for head coach Chris Bucknam and his staff at Arkansas.
The Razorbacks are the highest-ranked team currently competing in the Southeastern Conference with Florida ranked seventh and LSU slotted at 10th. Arkansas’ incoming freshman class includes Alex Chaffin (middle distance), Kyle Dunn (hurdles), Andrew Irwin (pole vault), Gunnar Nixon (multi events), Devin Randall (throws), Patrick Rono and Ryan Thomas (middle distance).
Chaffin, Rono and Thomas will add to the Razorbacks’ middle distance crew. Chaffin carries personal bests of 1:53.54 over 800 meters and 4:13.30 in the 1,600 meters; Rono has personal bests of 1:50.10 in the 800 meters and 4:10.01 in the 1,600 meters; and Thomas owns an 800-meter personal best of 1:53.36. Dunn begins his Razorback career with personal bests of 14.20 in the 110-meter hurdles, 51.04 in the 400-meter hurdles and 47.54 over 400 meters.
Irwin has a personal-best clearance of 17-9.25, the best prep jump in the country last year by more than six inches. Nixon is the national high school record holder in the decathlon with 8,035 points. He also owns personal bests of 7-0 in the high jump, 24-5 in the long jump, 13.83 in the 110-meter hurdles and 36.97 over the 300-meter hurdles. Randall adds depth to Arkansas’ throws with bests of 61-5 in the shot put and 185-2 in the discus.
The team will also benefit from the addition of transfers Anthony Lieghio (middle), Anthony May II (jumps) Razorbacks returning to action off a redshirt season are Akheem Gauntlett (sprints), Luke Laird (javelin) and Jeff Woods (javelin). Arkansas’ group of multi-event competitors will receive a boost from redshirt freshmen decathletes Auston Chen and Nathanael Franks who have both eclipsed the 7,000-point mark.
Gauntlett carries personal bests of 10.35 at 100 meters, 20.53 at 200 meters and 46.38 at 400 meters, while Lieghio enters the season with marks of 1:48.06 at 800 meters and 3:45.36 in the 1,500 meters. May II joins the team’s jumpers and has personal bests of 7-3 in the high jump, 24-10 in the long jump and 50-4 in the triple jump. Laird and Woods own personal bests in the javelin of 228-4 and 198-5, respectively. Chen has high total of 7,025 points while Franks has registered a personal-best 7,112 points.
The incoming class of Razorbacks includes the No. 1-ranked prep decathlete in 2010 (Nixon), top-ranked pole vaulter (Irwin) and second-ranked 400-meter hurdler (Dunn). In June, Nixon was named the 2010-11 Gatorade National Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year. Rounding out the incoming class are freshmen Travis Diepenbrock (distance), Zach Kovach (sprints), Joshua Morgan (pole vault) Scott Peterson (sprints), Andrew Pisechko (middle distance) along with transfers Raymond Joseph (distance), and Peter Mirocke (javelin).
The 2012 track and field season gets under way Jan. 6 with the Arkansas Invitational at the Randal Tyson Track Center. During the course of the season, the Razorbacks are set to host eight meets-five indoor and three outdoor-in Fayetteville.
The January 2012 edition of Track & Field News is currently available and includes an interview with Irwin, a native of Mt. Ida, Ark. For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Track & Field News Men’s Recruiting Class Rankings1. Texas2. Oregon3. Texas A&M4. ARKANSAS5. Harvard6. Stanford7. Florida8. Virginia9. Wisconsin10. LSU