Top teams set for Tyson Invitational

Arkansas men’s track and field Coach Chris Bucknam (right) and the Razorback men’s and women’s teams will host the Tyson Invitational beginning today at the Randal Tyson Center in Fayetteville.
(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)
Arkansas men’s track and field Coach Chris Bucknam (right) and the Razorback men’s and women’s teams will host the Tyson Invitational beginning today at the Randal Tyson Center in Fayetteville. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)

FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas men's and women's track and field teams will have their last major competition before the SEC Indoor Championships in two weeks when the Razorbacks host Tyson Invitational this weekend.

There will be 34 visiting teams at the meet today and Saturday at the Randal Tyson Center.

"We have 45 members on our team and we can only take 27 athletes," Arkansas men's Coach Chris Bucknam said of the roster limit for the SEC meet. "This is a big weekend where we get a lot of good competition fighting for one of those 27 spots. People understand the magnitude of the meet."

Arkansas women's Coach Chris Johnson said a 27-athlete roster "is a little tight for us" for the SEC meet, which the Razorbacks also will host.

"We've got kids that could possibly score who won't have the opportunity to compete at home in the conference meet," Johnson said. "And it's not just how good they do, but how we're going to put them in position to score at the conference meet. So it's strategic as well."

Arkansas' women's team is ranked No. 1 nationally in the coaches poll.

"Everybody's hunting us," Johnson said. "We understand that.

"It helps our team mature and grow, not just athletically, but being able to control your emotions and stay locked in and focused as a precursor to the SEC and national meets."

Johnson said the No. 1 ranking is a compliment to the Razorbacks.

"Being ranked No. 1 and finishing No. 1 are two different things," he said. "We hope to finish No. 1. That's always our goal."

The women's field at the Tyson Invitational includes No. 2 Florida, No. 10 LSU and and No. 14 Ole Miss.

"We're not short of any competition, that's for sure," Johnson said.

Arkansas freshman Shawnti Jackson will run in the 60 meters, where her time of 7.18 seconds at the Razorback Invitational two weeks ago ranks fourth nationally.

Senior Amber Anning will run in the 400 for the Razorbacks. Her 50.56 time leads the nation.

Arkansa senior Amanda Fassold, the defending NCAA Indoor champion, leads Arkansas in the pole vault.

The Razorbacks' men's team is ranked No. 3 in the coaches poll and will compete in a field that includes No. 6 Florida, No. 8 Nebraska, No. 16 Arizona State, No. 17 LSU and No. 20 Iowa State.

"We've got really got phenomenal teams on both the men's and women's sides," Bucknam said.

Arkansas sophomore sprinter Jordan Anthony, a transfer from Texas A&M who will play wide receiver on the football team, will run the 60 for the second consecutive weekend after taking third in 6.62 at the New Mexico Collegiate Classic.

Anthony is focused on his track training after doing football workouts in January.

he ran a personal-best 6.57 last year as a Kentucky freshman to take second at the NCAA meet.

"We're pleased with the progress Jordan's made," Bucknam said. "He's only been out with us for a couple of weeks.

"It's going to take some time for him to get up to speed, so to speak. But he practices hard, he's getting his reps in. He's got a great work ethic. He's dialed into running fast.

'We're just trying not to rush it, and do things the right way and let his natural abilities come out."

Arkansas senior Romaine Beckford, an NCAA champion and the collegiate leader in the high jump this season at 7 feet, 5 1/2 inches, will compete at the Tyson Invitational along with teammates Tomas Ferrari, Andrew Hughes and Kason O'Riley.

Freshman John Kendricks will compete in the pole vault for the Razorbacks.

Running in the 60 hurdles for the Razorbacks will be Tai Brown, TJ Caldwell, Elijah Morris and Brevin Sims.

Arkansas sophomore Reuben Reina, who ran a 3:59.91 in the mile earlier this season, will be in that event again along with teammates Tommy Romanow, Elias Schreml and Jack Williams.