FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – In recognition of the standout season by all three aspects of the program, the University of Arkansas men’s cross country and track and field team has been named the 2012-13 John McDonnell Program of the Year. Now in its fifth season, the award is given by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) to the most successful combined program during the academic year. The Razorbacks are the only team from the Southeastern Conference ranked within the top 10.
Arkansas was the only program in the country to finish in the top 10 of each NCAA Championships event. In the fall, the Razorbacks finished in 10th place at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Louisville, Ky. During its track and field campaign, Arkansas won the NCAA Indoor Championships team title in front of its home fans in Fayetteville and closed its season with a bronze finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore.
“To win this award with Coach McDonnell’s name on it really means a lot to this team,” head coach Chris Bucknam said. “This group of athletes has had a great year. I’m proud of them and the staff for the way they have prepared and competed all season. It’s a long year, starting back in August with the start of cross country and going into the summer with track and field. It’s a tribute to the team and staff to remain focused for that length of time and to be successful at the highest level.”
The team began its national championship season by running to a top-10 finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. In his first NCAA appearance with the Razorbacks, Kemoy Campbell registered an All-American effort with his 17th-place individual finish. Arkansas’ top-five scoring lineup consisted of Campbell, Solomon Haile, Eric Fernandez, Cale Wallace and Layne Nixon, respectively.
The Razorbacks earned the program’s 41 NCAA team title with their first-place performance at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Arkansas scored 74 points to secure the team’s first national crown since 2006 and the program’s first under Bucknam. During the two-day meet, the Razorbacks claimed NCAA titles from Andrew Irwin in the pole vault, Kevin Lazas in the heptathlon and the team’s 4x400-meter relay which broke the collegiate record with its time of 3:03.50 in the final event of the weekend.
In its final national competition of the year, Arkansas posted a third-place result at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. The Razorbacks finished the four-day meet with 46.5 points, aided by a pair of NCAA runner-up showings by Raymond Higgs in the long jump and the 4x400-meter relay team of Neil Braddy, Caleb Cross, Akheem Gauntlett and Anton Kokorin. Arkansas scored points in 11 of the 13 events in which it had entries.
The John McDonnell Program of the Year Award, first presented in 2008-09, is named after USTFCCCA Hall of Fame and former Razorback head coach John McDonnell. His Arkansas teams won a combined 40 NCAA titles and finished in the top 10 in cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field in 24 of his 36 seasons in Fayetteville. McDonnell guided Arkansas to five NCAA Triple Crowns.