Photo courtesy Walt Beazley
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Head coach Chris Bucknan, junior Caleb Cross and freshman Andrew Irwin have been recognized by the Southeastern Conference with Friday's release of the 2012 SEC Outdoor Track and Field Awards.
Bucknam was named the SEC Men's Coach of the Year, Cross was voted the SEC Men's Runner of the Year and Irwin was selected as the SEC Field and Freshman Field Athlete of the Year.
Under Bucknam's watch, the Razorbacks won the 2012 SEC outdoor title last weekend in Baton Rouge, La. The victory also completed Arkansas' SEC triple crown for the year, coupled with the team's wins at the cross country and indoor meets earlier this season. The latest recognition is the third outdoor coaching honor for Bucknam and the eighth overall for the fourth-year Razorback head coach.
Arkansas' triple crown is the first for Bucknam and 13th for the program since joining the SEC in 1991-92. Bucknam has guided the Razorbacks to wins in the last four SEC competitions, dating back to last year's outdoor team crown in Athens, Ga.
Cross was the recipient of the 2012 Commissioner's Trophy as the high-point scorer with 18.5 points at the SEC Championships. The Newport, Ark., native was the 2012 SEC champion in the 400-meter hurdles, and was a double winner as the lead leg for Arkansas' 4x100-meter relay. Cross added a third-place finish in the 110-meter hurdles. He currently sits No. 3 in school history in the 400-meter hurdles (50.30) and No. 7 in the 110-meter hurdles (13.71) with times run this season.
"I think Caleb's performance this weekend really epitomizes what our team has been about all year," Bucknam said. "I've said all along that we're not just runners. We're racers. That's what Caleb did, raced to the finish (in the 400-meter hurdles). We had the meet won at that point and would have been satisfied with a second or third place. That's not what he wanted and he got the win. For that to be his fifth race in two days and to see him really go for that finish line makes me happy he's a Razorback."
Irwin was the 2012 SEC champion in the pole vault with an NCAA-leading clearance of 5.72m/18-9.25. In addition to improving upon his own school record, Irwin set the American junior record and hit the Olympic Games 'A' standard with his performance. The Mount Ida, Ark., native won both the SEC indoor and outdoor pole vault titles during his freshman season. Irwin was also voted SEC Freshman Field Athlete of the Year during the indoor campaign.
"(Andrew) is having a lot of fun and enjoying what he's doing," Bucknam said. "It doesn't look like work out there for him. It is work but he truly enjoys the whole process. It's a great story. He's done a good job of staying focused and taking things day by day, not looking ahead at things to come."
Earlier in the week, Terry Prentice was named to the SEC Community Service Team for track and field. The Razorback senior serves as the president for the University of Arkansas' Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) for the 2011-12 academic year. In addition to his commitment to the Northwest Arkansas community, Prentice finished second in the decathlon at the conference meet with a personal-best 7,585 points. He is one of three Razorback decathletes to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
Arkansas' outdoor season continues May 24-26 with the NCAA West Preliminary in Austin, Texas. The NCAA Championships will then be contested June 6-9 in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
2012 SEC Outdoor Track and Field Awards
Men's Coach of the Year: Chris Bucknam, Arkansas
Men's Runner of the Year: Caleb Cross, Arkansas
Men's Field Athlete of the Year: Andrew Irwin, Arkansas
Men's Freshman Runner of the Year: Aaron Ernest, LSU
Men's Freshman Field Athlete of the Year: Andrew Irwin, Arkansas
Men's Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Marvin Reitze, South Carolina
(Source: University of Arkansas Athletic Media Relations)