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Newcomers dot Arkansas' lineup in season opener

by Bob Holt | January 14, 2022 at 2:08 a.m.

ARKANSAS INVITATIONAL

WHEN Today. Field events begin at noon with running events at 2:30 p.m.

WHERE Randal Tyson Track Center, Fayetteville

WHO Field includes Arkansas, UALR, UCA, UAPB, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oral Roberts, and Kansas community colleges Allen, Butler and Coffeyville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Several newcomers will make their debuts for the University of Arkansas men's and women's track and field teams at today's Arkansas Invitational at the Randal Tyson Track Center.

"Some are transfers and others are from the high school level," Razorbacks women's assistant coach Chris Johnson said. "This meet gives them an opportunity to step into an environment that's somewhat safe, but also understand the expectation of being at Arkansas and competing in the SEC is a little different than what they're accustomed to.

"To get them to focus to compete like SEC athletes -- whether it's a big meet or small meet -- is very important for us."

Making their track debuts for the Arkansas women's team will be Julia Paternain, Sydney Thorvaldson and Heidi Nielson in the mile. Newcomers for the men's team include Patrick Kiprop in the mile and Ricardo Banks in the 800.

"Just watching their body language, watching how they warm up and prepare and approach the competition," Arkansas men's Coach Chris Bucknam said of evaluating the newcomers. "How they look. Do they have fear in their eyes? Are they excited to compete? There's a lot of different emotions these new kids go through. But I think this is a good meet to start off with.

"It's our first chance to see what we recruited."

Joining Arkansas at the meet are the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the University of Central Arkansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oral Roberts, Tulsa, Alcorn State, and Kansas community colleges Allen, Butler and Coffeyville.

"These meets that we compete in as we go through the indoor season get progressively tougher," Bucknam said. "We get in better shape. I'm hoping we can get some national qualifiers and get our team ready for the championship season at the end of February."

Johnson agreed today is a warmup for the season.

"It's one of those meets where we get our feet wet, knock off the rust from the holidays, and take advantage of an opportunity to compete," Johnson said. "We're looking to have some fun, stay healthy, and prepare for the bigger and better meets down the line."

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