It seems like the men’s XC and track programs have lapsed a bit to a top 20 or 25 level the last few years. Is there something going on here? Are we a few top athletes short?
Two things happened with the track program that set it back a little bit. First, it lost several great athletes over a two-season span who were top scorers at conference and NCAA meets, including Omar McLeod who went pro after his sophomore year. If he stays all four years who knows how the championship meets would have been affected.
The other thing that hurt Arkansas was Travis Geopfert leaving for Tennessee a couple of years ago. He was the program’s ace recruiter and I think him leaving probably hurt the Razorbacks with a class or two.
I know the coaches feel like they can build around the 2019 signing class, which was one of the biggest Chris Bucknam has had with 23 athletes. Arkansas was still competitive at the conference meets last year and finished sixth in the national program of the year rankings, which takes into consideration NCAA finishes in all three sports. So even for the program going through a rut, it is still not far off from being in the hunt again. Bucknam has won a lot of conference championships and an NCAA championship, and had a lot of runner-up finishes at the conference and national level. I don’t think he has forgotten how to coach. He just needed to replenish his roster.
Matt did a nice job explaining this. We went through it in June, too. I think this recruiting class was really good. I suspect you will see some good results soon.