FAYETTEVILLE – For the sixth time in program history, the University of Arkansas will host the Southeastern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships, held Feb. 25-27 at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville. Competition begins Friday at 1:30 p.m. (CT) with the start of the heptathlon, featuring RazorbacksMatt Kirbos,Kevin Lazas and Terry Prentice.
"This is what we run for," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "This is the meet we wait for and it’s come up pretty fast. The season has gone quickly and the SEC Championships are here. We’re looking forward to getting our kids out on the track and seeing how good we are."
Since joining the SEC in 1992, Arkansas has come away with 17 of the 19 indoor conference championships contested. In those two years without a title, the Razorbacks finished second in 1996 and 2004. Arkansas enters this weekend’s meet as the winner of the previous six SEC indoor crowns.
The Razorbacks own two conference-leading marks with several other top-five results. Eric Fernandez leads the SEC with his time of 13:53.48 in the 5,000 meters and the distance-medley relay has clocked a time of 9:30.85 this season, the only team with an NCAA automatic qualifier in the event. Along with the DMR, Arkansas has secured three other automatic marks for the national meet with Duncan Phillips in the mile (3:58.82) and Tarik Batchelor in the long jump (26-2.25) and triple jump (54-2.5). Phillips is second in the SEC in the mile while Batchelor is third in both jumps.
There was no change inside the top five of the Feb. 22 release of the USTFCCCA national rankings. The Razorbacks enter the 2011 SEC Indoor Championships as the No. 5 team in the country, the same spot the team held last week. Arkansas is one of five SEC teams within the national top 25, in addition to No. 1 Florida, No. 2 LSU, No. 17 Alabama and No. 24 Georgia. Overall, the SEC is the top-ranked conference in the nation, ahead of the Big 12 and Big Ten, respectively.
"I’ve said this before, and I’m not shy in saying that this league is second to none in the country," Bucknam said. "It’s going to be an incredibly tough task to win this meet and it’s going to take our best efforts. It would definitely be something to hang your hat on if you’re able to win this meet."
Last season, with the help of five event titles, the Razorbacks won the 2010 SEC indoor title, also in Fayetteville, with 123 points, four clear of runner-up Florida. Alain Bailey won the long jump, Scott MacPherson won the 5,000 meters, Dorian Ulrey won the mile and 3,000 meters and the distance-medley relay ran to a victory. Ulrey finished the meet with 22.5 points and was awarded the Commissioner’s Trophy as the meet’s top point scorer.
Following the opening day of combined events, the conference meet continues Saturday and Sunday at noon and 11:30 a.m., respectively, at the Randal Tyson Track Center. The women’s weight throw will be contested at Walker Pavilion at 10 a.m. Saturday, followed by the men’s weight throw Sunday at the same time. Follow the action throughout the weekend via live stream, interactive blog and live results at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Download: 2011 M Ind_athlete.pdf