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Arkansas track teams finally together at McDonnell meet

By Bob Holt

This article was published April 21, 2017 at 2:08 a.m.

arkansas-coach-chris-bucknam-speaks-to-an-assistant-coach-saturday-oct-1-2016-during-the-28th-annual-chile-pepper-cross-country-festival-at-agri-park-in-fayetteville

Arkansas coach Chris Bucknam speaks to an assistant coach Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, during the 28th annual Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival at Agri Park in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- After traveling to California or Texas the previous three weeks, the Arkansas Razorbacks men's and women's track and field teams are home this weekend for the John McDonnell Invitational.

"The nice thing about this meet is we're finally together," said Chris Bucknman, coach of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville men's team. "We've gone split squads the first half of the season so it'll be nice to get the whole crew back at one facility."

Teams competing at the meet against Arkansas include Missouri, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Wisconsin.

"This is the time of year we start really putting our team together and we're excited to host," Bucknam said. "We feel like we've got one of the best facilities anywhere in the country.

"If the weather cooperates, we'll put up some good performances."

Heavy rain is forecast for today, which caused some events to be moved to Saturday.

The triple jump, featuring Arkansas NCAA champion and Jamaican Olympian Clive Pullen, is still scheduled for 6 tonight, weather permitting.

It will be the first time Pullen has tripled jumped in a meet this outdoor season.

The top priority for Pullen, Bucknam said, is hitting a mark good enough to qualify for the NCAA West preliminaries, where the top 48 athletes in each event compete to see which 12 advance to nationals.

"Clive's been training awfully hard and we feel he's ready to get out there and put a couple big jumps in," Bucknam said. "Being a senior he wants to make this last season special and the name of the game is being healthy in May and June."

Arkansas junior Kenzo Cotton will run in the 100 and 200, sophomore Obi Igbokwe and senior Eric Janise the 400 and junior Jack Bruce in the 1,500. Senior Ken LeGassey will high jump.

The pole vault, with Arkansas sophomore twin sisters Lexi and Tori Weeks, figures to be a highlight Saturday if weather isn't an issue, Razorbacks women's Coach Lance Harter said.

Lexi Weeks is a two-time NCAA and SEC champion and was U.S. Olympian last summer. Tori Weeks won the SEC indoor title this year.

The women's pole vault is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday.

"Our vaulters are all ready to go as long as the weather's cooperative," Harter said. "If it is going to be a potentially dangerous situation then obviously we're not going to put those kids at risk."

Arkansas junior Taliyah Brooks, the national leader in the heptathlon after setting a school record with 6,075 points at the Texas Relays, will compete in the long jump and 110-meter hurdles Saturday.

The Razorbacks women's team is ranked No. 2 nationally in the coaches' poll behind Oregon.

"We're right on schedule for where our team should be at this point of the season," Harter said. "In fact, we're probably a little bit ahead of schedule."

Arkansas' men's team has dropped to No. 7 in the coaches' poll and is sixth among SEC teams behind No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Texas A&M, No. 4 Alabama, No. 5 Georgia and No. 6 Kentucky. Oregon is No. 3.

"We've slipped a little bit in the poll, but it's still early," Bucknam said. "We haven't shown all of our cards yet. We're not at full steam."

Arkansas will compete against Wisconsin in the decathlon today and Sunday with points being kept among the four-man teams. Derek Jacobus, Brad Culp, Gabe Moore and Lane Austell will represent the Razorbacks.

"It's a game within a game and provides a good, competitive element," Bucknam said. "Instead of just going out individually, we'll score that and some fun with it."

Sports on 04/21/2017

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