FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The University of Arkansas men's track and field team will begin its 2013 campaign as the No. 1 team in the country with Tuesday's preseason release by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). The Razorbacks begin their season Friday with a dual meet against preseason No. 3 Texas at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
"We're excited about this team and the hard work they've put in," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "With 18 returning All-Americans, we're coming off a great campaign last year so it's nice to have that experience on the roster. In this week's practices after the break, we can tell there's an urgency to get this indoor season started but there's also some maturity with these guys. You can see calmness and the confidence from our guys because they've been there before but this is a brand new season so we'll see how it plays itself out."
Arkansas' 2013 roster features 18 All-Americans--including 13 from last season--and four NCAA champions with Andrew Irwin in the pole vault and 4x400-meter relay members Neil Braddy, Akheem Gauntlett and Marek Niit. Gauntlett was also the national indoor runner-up at 200 meters last season.
Other returning national scorers are Caleb Cross in the 60-meter hurdles, Kevin Lazas and Gunnar Nixon in the heptathlon and the distance-medley relay team of Anthony Lieghio, Leoman Momoh, Patrick Rono and Travis Southard. As a team, the Razorbacks were the national runner-up in 2012.
Bucknam (distance) returns for his fifth season at the helm of the Arkansas cross country and track and field program. Assistant coaches Doug Case (sprints, hurdles, pole vault) and Travis Geopfert (field events, multis) are in their fifth and fourth seasons at Arkansas, respectively. Last season, the Razorbacks began the year as the preseason No. 2 in the USTFCCCA poll.
The Southeastern Conference placed the largest number of teams in the men's preseason top-25 projections with seven, including four in the top 10. The first regular season ranking will be released Jan. 22. Overall, the SEC leads the preseason Conference Index Top 10 with its seven teams and near 300-point lead over the Pac-12 which has five teams in the rankings.
The season-opening event starts Friday at 4 p.m. (CT) at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville. General admission tickets for home meets are $5, while fans 17 years and younger are admitted for free and University of Arkansas students get in free with valid student ID.
Friday's competition is the first of 11 home meets--six indoor and five outdoor--for the Razorbacks this season. Arkansas' hosting duties will include the 2013 NCAA and SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships. The indoor national meet will be contested March 8-9, while the conference meet will take place Feb. 22-24.
For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com. Fans can also keep up with Arkansas cross country and track and field through the team's sport-specific RazorbackTF Facebook and Twitter pages.
USTFCCCA Preseason Top 10
4. Texas A&M
6. Arizona State
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