FAYETTEVILLE -- Few collegiate sports combine a long year of short seasons like track and field.
Yet for all these athletes train year-round to do, they have scant indoor and outdoor track time to do it.
The indoor season for Chris Bucknam's Arkansas Razorbacks men and Lance Harter's Razorbacks women began Jan. 12 and ends March 9-10 at the NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas.
So from the Jan. 12 Arkansas Invitational that Bucknam and Harter referred to as the "get your feet wet" meet at their Randal Tyson Indoor Track in Fayetteville, and last week's quadrangular with host Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State in Ann Arbor, the Razorbacks face accelerating to midseason form hosting the Razorback Invitational this Friday and Saturday.
"We are going to sit down with the kids and tell them, 'You newcomers, it's time to take a stand because there's not that much competition left before conference,'" Harter said. "The focus and intensity elevate tremendously."
Considering the field that Harter's nationally No. 2 women and Bucknam's nationally No. 7 men co-host with Saturday's 1 p.m. through 4:15 p.m. portion televised live by the SEC Network, this Razorback Invitational appears college track's best indoor meet this side of its national and the Feb. 24-25 SEC Championships in College Station.
"This was ranked the best collegiate meet in the country last year," Bucknam said. "It's like Groundhog Day (the Bill Murray movie when Groundhog Day unceasingly repeats). What was said last year applies this year and will next year."
Teams include Florida, Georgia, Southern California, LSU, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Iowa State, Kansas State, Florida State and Oklahoma State.
All except always distance prominent Oklahoma State are nationally ranked in either men's or women's indoor track or both.
Florida, Georgia and Texas A&M, rivals to Bucknam's defending SEC Indoor champions, nationally rank 1-2-3 among men's teams.
Harter says his defending SEC Indoor champions are among nine ranked women's teams competing. Georgia, Southern California and Florida ranked third through fifth, Texas A&M seventh, LSU ninth and Ole Miss 10th in the Top Ten.
"The competition has been getting warmer each week," Harter said. "So now we're going from warm straight into the fire. The competition top to bottom is going to be loaded."
Team scores will be kept. But as much as Bucknam and Harter would like to win this weekend's team title, that's not their main objective.
"For us really the two scored meets are the conference meet and the national meet," Harter said. "So we're not doubling and tripling people this weekend."
Bucknam's men, training hard all last week while withholding anyone remotely injury suspect, nationally dipped from second to seventh because they placed third to Ohio State and Michigan last Saturday.
"Our objective is to get everybody on the same page the second week of February," Bucknam said. "But we'll back them off (training) a little bit this week and hopefully get some good performances."
Sports on 01/24/2018
Print Headline: Indoor track season heating up