FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas men's track coach Chris Bucknam has been named Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track and Field coach of the year.
Bucknam was among the year-end award winners announced by the conference for both men’s and women’s track Friday. Arkansas men’s decathlete Nathanael Franks (Scholar Athlete of the Year), while women’s heptathlete Makeba Alcide (Field Athlete of the Year) also were among the award winners announced Friday.
Bucknam’s SEC coach of the year honors were his third straight and fourth of his career. He has 11 total coach of the year honors since arriving at Arkansas.
Bucknam earned the latest honor Friday after leading the Razorbacks to the 2013 SEC Outdoor championship earlier this month. The victory helped the Razorbacks complete their second straight triple crown under Bucknam, winning the SEC cross country, indoor track and outdoor track titles each of the past two seasons.
“Obviously, we’re very pleased with the outcome at the SEC Championships,” Bucknam said. “Like I’ve mentioned before, it’s our first line of defense during the championship season. It’s really important to our University and to our program. Track and field is a team sport at Arkansas. It always has been and it always will be. That’s exactly what it takes to win an SEC championship. We’re proud of that label.”
Franks was named the scholar athlete of the year for his work in the classroom and track. Franks is a chemistry and physics graduate with a 3.96 undergrad grade-point average and current graduate student in finance. He finished third in the decathlon at the 2013 SEC Outdoor Championships with a personal-best score of 7,520 points.
Alcide was the SEC Outdoor champion in the heptathlon, finishing just one point off the conference championships meet record with an NCAA-leading score of 5,968 points. Alcide also broke the Arkansas school record in the event.
“If you have to have someone lay down the example and get momentum going in a positive direction, she does a fantastic job,” Arkansas women’s coach Lance Harter said in a news release. “Conditions were less than ideal. It was cold and windy. She rose up and answered the challenge all the way through, missing the championship record by a point. What made it even more special was that she got the standard for the World Championships that are in Moscow this summer. I think she has everything in place to go into the national championships on a real positive note.”
The Arkansas men’s team had five event winners (Kemoy Campbell, Caleb Cross, Andrew Irwin, Leoman Momoh and Patrick Ronoat) at the SEC Outdoor meet and each received SEC first-team honors Friday. Four others who had runner-up finishes (Akheem Gauntlett, Solomon Haile, Stanley Kebenei and Kevin Lazas) earned second-team honors. Jarrion Lawson was named to the all-freshman team.
Six Arkansas women also earned SEC first-team honors (Alcide, Gwendolyn Flowers, Regina George, Grace Heymsfield, Sparkle McKnight and Chrishuna Williams), while Semehar Tesfaye was named to the second-team. Jessica Kamilos made the all-freshman team.
The honors were announced leading into NCAA championship season. Arkansas will compete at the NCAA West Preliminary meet May 23-25 in Austin, Texas. The men's team will send 27 total qualifiers (25 individuals and 2 relays) for the meet, while the women's team has 22 total qualifiers (21 individuals and one relay).
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau