FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Razorbacks begin their 2021 indoor season on Saturday with the Arkansas Invitational, a scored meet among seven schools. The Razorbacks will host Arkansas State, Central Arkansas, Harding, Oklahoma, UA-Pine Bluff and UA-Little Rock inside Randal Tyson Track Center.
“We look forward to the opportunity on Saturday to put on the uniform and start the qualifying procedure, not only for the SEC meet but also the NCAA meet,” said Arkansas women’s head coach Lance Harter, in his 31st season with the Razorbacks. “We will have seven meets in a row, and this is the beginning.
“This weekend is almost like looking up a stairwell, taking one step at a time. At the top of the stairs is the NCAA meet.”
Action inside a renovated Randal Tyson Track Center begins at 11:30 a.m. with field events while running events start at 1 p.m. The meet will conclude at 6:45 p.m.
No fans are allowed inside the venue due to social distancing for the athletes. There will be a live stream of the meet on SEC Network + through the ESPN app (https://es.pn/3qe78JI) and live results will be available through FlashResults.com here (https://bit.ly/38K1t8l).
This is the first competition for the bulk of the Razorback squad since winning the 2020 SEC Indoor championship last February. While distance runners had a shortened cross country season during the fall, the rest of the team has been in an extended training mode during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Everybody is super excited about the opportunity to really begin a competition season,” said Harter. “The feeling of being back on the indoor track, and the aura around it. Especially for those that didn’t run cross country, this is essentially the beginning of the year.
“I know the kids are excited, they did a great job during the holiday season. Our fall sessions evolved into the holidays. Kids did a great job during the holidays to maintain fitness. Now the proof is in the pudding and we get an opportunity to compete.”
Harter notes the mile will be a showcase race as it includes an Arkansas crew of Krissy Gear, Abby Gray, Lauren Gregory, Katie Izzo, and Logan Morris. He is also keen to see how the collection of Arkansas newcomers and transfers handle their initial competition on the banks of the indoor track.
“A few of our milers, who call that their bread and butter event, are super excited,” stated Harter. “After having a cross country season, they went into a transition phase to get ready for indoor. They want to get a chance to race at a home event. I think the mile is going to be very fast and exciting.
“Our sprint crew is ready to go, and I know our vaulters are always ready to go.”
Among a deep and talented group of sprinters, the Razorbacks see the return of Jada Baylark, who last raced during the 2019 indoor season, while welcoming recent newcomer Yoveinny Mota, a hurdler who joined the squad this month after transferring from Barton County.
A field of seven Razorbacks are entered in the pole vault, led by Bailee McCorkle, who moved to equal fifth on the Arkansas all-time indoor list with a mark of 14-7.5 last season.
Other 14-foot vaulters joining McCorkle are Nastassja Campbell (14-4.75) and Mackenzie Hayward (14-0 outdoor, 13-10.5 indoor). Elien Vekemans, an U20 and U23 national outdoor record holder from Belgium who transferred from Oklahoma, has previously cleared 13-11.75 outdoors and 13-8.5 indoors.
New features added to the Randal Tyson Track Center, which will host the SEC and NCAA Championships this season, include a new Mondo surface, a second videoboard, new banners displaying the multiple national championships and triple crown achievements of the program, along with new graphics in the facility.
However, one key element will be missing this weekend and for the indoor season – Razorback fans. There is no equal among indoor track and field venues to the energy Hogs fans create during every home meet.
“It’s going to be a different feeling not having a crowd, because that’s always been part of the enthusiasm to come to Fayetteville and run in the infamous Tyson indoor track,” noted Harter.
Fans have an opportunity to cheer on the Razorbacks by submitting a video of themselves Calling the Hogs or by posting a message to the team.