Arkansas Track and Field Camps
Travis Geopfert begins his eighth season at the University of Arkansas and his 14th as a collegiate coach. He is charged with coaching the field and multi-event athletes with the Razorbacks while also acting as the recruiting coordinator for the Arkansas cross country/track & field programs.
In his 14 years on the sideline at Arkansas, Geopfert has built an impressive resume that includes three Olympians, 8 NCAA individual national titles, 65 first-team All-Americans, 119 NCAA qualifiers, 69 conference champions and 132 all-conference performers. Those numbers don’t include the myriad of honors bestowed upon the student-athletes that Geopfert has recruited, an array of performers that have been among the top 10 recruiting classes in the nation in each of the past three years.
The work that Geopfert has done has not gone unnoticed to his peers. In 2008 he received the United States Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association’s (USTFCCCA) Midwest Assistant Coach of the Year award for outdoor track and took the same honor indoors in 2013. His most recent honor led him to the USTFCCCA National Assistant Coach of the Year award for the 2013 indoor track season.
Geopfert’s 2013 track season was not just rewarding for him as an individual, but from a team standpoint as he helped Arkansas claim its 41st NCAA Championship during the indoor track season and win the John McDonnell Program of the Year award. The team also won its second straight SEC triple crown and Geopfert’s fingerprints were all over Arkansas’ team success in 2013 as he coached student-athletes to a national title in the heptathlon, 14 All-America honors and an SEC Champion.
In 2014 Geopfert repeated at the USTFCCCA National Assistant Coach of the Year for the indoor season following guiding one of his student-athletes to an individual national title for the second-consecutive year. In addition to the first-place finish five more from his training group earned All-American honors with three out of Geopfert’s six finishing among the top-five in their events at the national meet.
While his overall credentials are staggering, his numbers since arriving in Fayetteville are even better. He has coached three national champions, nine SEC titlists, five SEC runner-ups, 27 first-team All-Americans and 22 second-team All-Americans.
Kevin Lazas, the 2013 NCAA heptathlon champion, tallied 6,175 points on the way to his national title, a total that ranks No. 3 in NCAA history. The lofty numbers are not limited to just the multi-events. Geopfert’s first and third national champions were long jumpers Alan Bailey (2010) and Jarrion Lawson (2014). Lawson whose mark of 27-6.5 earned him a world No. 1 ranking at the time went on to finish second at the USATF Championships to cap his second season as a Razorback.
During the 2015 season Geopfert returned Lawson to the national spotlight guiding the junior to a silver medal in the long jump at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Picking up where they left off from the indoor season, Geopfert watched over Lawson’s outdoor progressions developing him into a dual-threat national contender in the 100-meter run and the long jump. With Geopfert’s mentoring, Lawson finished among the top-three competitors in both events at the NCAA Outdoor Championships bringing his All-American honors total to 12 in three years as a Razorback.
Geopfert’s seventh campaign at the helm of Razorback jumps, multis and throws brought several accomplishments including five SEC individual champions as well as multiple marks on Arkansas’ top-10 all-time bests list.
In Lawson’s final year with the Razorbacks the Texarkana, Texas native found his rhythm under Geopfert’s watch, sweeping the SEC and NCAA long jump titles in dominant fashion. Along with his collegiate success which saw him match Jesse Owens’ 100, 200, long national sweep Lawson landed international notoriety, leaping to a world-lead in the long jump at the U.S. Olympic Trials of 28-1 3/4.
Geopfert followed through with Lawson’s training all the way through the Olympic Games, molding the natural talent into a top-five finisher on the most elite stage in track and field. For his efforts in 2016 Lawson was selected as the NCAA National Outdoor Athlete of the Year and nominated as a finalist for the Bowerman Award and for the Best Male Collegiate Athlete ESPY Award.
Only one of Geopfert’s many talented student-athletes Lawson was joined on the national and Olympic stage by Jamaican triple jumper Clive Pullen who captured the NCAA indoor title and became the first Jamaican to qualify for an Olympic Games since the 1970s.
In addition to his duties with the Razorbacks, Geopfert is a rising star on the national stage and in 2013 coached his second Thorpe Cup, a decathlon competition between the United States and Germany. A long-time advocate of the competition, Geopfert was also a member of three Thorpe Cup championships as a competitor between 2003 and 2006.
Familiar with Coach Bucknam’s philosophies and coaching style, Geopfert was an athlete during the head Razorback’s run at Northern Iowa before joining the coaching staff. The long-time Panther even took over the program for one season, after Bucknam left for Arkansas, before joining his mentor one year later. His coaching at Northern Iowa led to Missouri Valley Conference indoor and outdoor championships in 2009 as well as coach of the year honors both seasons. In six years as a coach at UNI, Geopfert was a part of numerous conference championships and his recruits continue to hold 12 UNI school records.
Geopfert’s coaching career began at Central Missouri State where he spent two years as an assistant coach. In that time he coached two Divison II national champions, one national runner-up, six All-Americans, five conference champions and 10 all-conference performers.
A standout student-athlete for Northern Iowa, Geopfert earned All-America honors and was a three-time MVC champion. Including his professional career as an athlete, he was a two-time Drake Relays decathlon championships, three-time member of the Thorpe Cup and a six-time USA Championships qualifier in the decathlon.
A native of Panora, Iowa, Geopfert earned his bachelor’s degree from Northern Iowa in 2002. He and his wife Nicole have one daughter, Ellyn and two sons, Jones and Jax.
Chris Bucknam enters his ninth season as the head coach of the nationally dominant Arkansas men’s cross country and track and field program. A veteran in the coaching ranks, Bucknam took the Razorback head coaching position on June 27, 2008, after a 25-year stint at Northern Iowa.
Since assuming the head coaching position at Arkansas, Bucknam has enjoyed tremendous success in the form of 17 Southeastern Conference championships, five NCAA regional titles, and 240 All-Americans, guiding the Razorbacks to 61 individual SEC event titles.
Nationally, Bucknam’s guidance has led the Razorbacks to 17 top 10 finishes since his arrival in Fayetteville. His cross country squads have placed in the top 10 in three times in his tenure while track and field has 14 top 10s including four national runner-up finishes and a national title.
The 2015-16 brought the program’s 15th SEC Triple Crown as Bucknam masterfully guided the Razorbacks to decisive conference victories during the cross country, indoor and outdoor seasons. Arkansas’ dominance didn’t end at the league level, exceeding expectations at the national ranks as well with three top-six NCAA finishes – two of which were national runner-up performances.
Known for his development of elite distance runners Bucknam kicked off 2015 with a phenomenal cross country campaign which saw an unprecedented five different student-athletes take the lead for Arkansas during the season. Steamrolling through SECs and Regionals Bucknam’s crew surprised the polls placing just two spots shy of the podium – the program’s best NCAA finish since 2006 – off the heels of first-year All-Americans Jack Bruce and Frankline Tonui.
The Razorbacks success carried though to track season with Bucknam relying on a combined effort from all event groups to lead Arkansas to postseason titles. Arkansas’ tremendous versatility and depth were on full display as several newcomers forged their paths at the most different league championships in the country. His squad rose to the occasion as over 90 percent of the Razorbacks’ conference roster contributed at the SEC Championships and further delivering two NCAA national runner-up performances making the Razorback men the most complete team in the SEC.
One of the most phenomenal performances in the history of NCAA track and field came in 2016 from one of Bucknam’s Razorback leaders Jarrion Lawson. In an incredulous feat of athleticism Lawson captured three NCAA individual titles for the Razorbacks, completing the Jesse Owens triple with victories in the 100, 200 and long jump at the outdoor championship.
Last season’s success was a continuation of Arkansas long-standing tradition of excellence including the 2013 indoor track squad who captured Bucknam’s first and Arkansas’ 41st NCAA title.
Entering the competition as the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, the Razorbacks did not disappoint the hometown crowd at the Randal Tyson Track Center as Arkansas scored 74 points and racked up 25 All-America honors at the meet. Two individuals captured NCAA titles and a collegiate record in the 4×400 relay added a third to the Razorbacks’ dominating performance.
Along with the indoor title, Arkansas placed 10th at the NCAA Cross Country Championship and third at the outdoor meet allowing the program to claim its first John McDonnell Program of the Year award, named after the legendary Arkansas coach whom Bucknam took over for following his retirement.
The national recognition as the best program in the nation was no fluke as Bucknam and his staff have been building to that for several years. In 2011-12, Arkansas won the program’s 13th SEC Triple Crown and the first with Bucknam at the helm. The Razorbacks duplicated the effort in 2012-13 giving them 11 league championships over the past five years. No other SEC school has more than two in that same time frame. For his part Bucknam has been named the SEC Coach of the Year 15 times and national coach of the year one time.
As the head coach, Bucknam’s charge is to look at the big picture and lead his team to championships, but that doesn’t deter him from his work with the Razorback distance crew. He has led the program to 142 marks that have etched themselves on Arkansas’ prestigious all-time top 10 lists including 12 school records since his arrival in 2008.
During his first season distance medley relay squad of Alex McClary, Ben Skidmore, Chris Bilbrew and Dorian Ulrey eclipsed an 11-year-old record, which had not even been close to being broken since it was set in 1998, at the UW Invitational when it ran 9:28.35. The outdoor school record was set by Shawn Forrest, when he shattered the 10,000-meter mark with a time of 27:52.10 at the Payton Jordan Invitational.
Ulrey’s three-year Arkansas career was one of the more celebrated in Razorback history as the Port Byron, Ill. native earned eight All-America honors, one NCAA Championship, seven SEC titles, two SEC Athlete of the Year awards and the league’s sportsmanship award. The lessons that Ulrey picked up in Fayetteville have served him well since he completed his eligibility as he continues to perform well professionally.
Along with the success of his student-athletes in the competition arena, Razorbacks have been equally as good in the classroom. Arkansas has placed six student-athletes on the Capital One Academic All-America squads over the past eight years, including three this past season and had more than 75 named to the SEC Academic Honor Rolls. The Razorbacks were named the USTFCCCA Indoor and Outdoor Scholar Team of the Year in 2015 in recognition of the program’s excellent cumulative gpa and athletic performance.
Prior to taking over the Arkansas program, Bucknam was a well-respected head coach at Northern Iowa where he led his teams to 35 conference championships, two top-10 and six top-20 finishes at the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships. He was named conference coach of the year 33 times while in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and coached three individual national champions and 34 All-Americans who earned a total of 85 honors.
His time with the Panthers saw him lead the men’s program for 25 seasons and a combined track and field operation for the final 11 years. Bucknam’s career at Northern Iowa began as an assistant in 1979 before he assumed the head coaching job prior to the 1984 campaign. Along with his various conference coach of the year awards, Bucknam was also honored regionally for his acumen with nine USTFCCCA Midwest Region Coach of the Year honors.
Under Bucknam’s tutelage, Northern Iowa product Joey Woody was a three-time All-American and the 1997 national champion in the 400-meter hurdles. Woody placed second in the 400-meter hurdles at 2003 World Championships and was a member of the 1999 World Champion 4×400-meter relay team.
A native of Beverly, Mass., Bucknam attended Norwich University in Northfield, Vt., where he was a cross country and track letterman. He was elected cross country co-captain his senior year and is a member of the Norwich Athletic Hall of Fame. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1978. He earned his master’s degree in physical education from Northern Iowa in 1982.
He and his wife, Cindy, are the parents of a son, Eric, and a daughter, Kate.
Doug Case enters his ninth season as an assistant coach with the University of Arkansas cross country and track and field teams. He is charged with working with the Razorback sprinters, relay teams and pole vault and is starting his 23rd year of coaching at the collegiate level.
Since arriving in Fayetteville, following an extended stay at Northern Iowa, Case has revitalized the Arkansas sprint teams and led his student-athletes to 10 NCAA individual titles, including the first ever championships in the pole vault, 60-meter hurdles, 100-meter hurdles, 4×100-meter relay and indoor 4×400-meter relay, and 123 All-America honors. Case’s guidance has helped Razorbacks claim 18 Southeastern Conference individual championships and grab 17 of the last 24 SEC league titles in cross country and track & field.
The crowning achievement of Case’s time with Arkansas came during the 2013 indoor track season when he and longtime friend and mentor Chris Bucknam led the Razorbacks to the NCAA Championship. The duo followed up the win with a third-place finish at the outdoor meet which led to the University’s first John McDonnell Program of the Year award.
Case’s work at Arkansas has not gone unnoticed to his colleagues as he earned the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association (USTFCCCA) South Central regional assistant coach of the year in 2011 and most recently for his efforts in 2015.
Along with his ability to teach his protégés to race and compete, Case has also put his stamp on the Razorback record books. In eight years, 67 marks on Arkansas’ top 10 performance lists across 16 events in two seasons belong to student-athletes developed by Case. This past season Case guided Arkansas sophomore Omar McLeod past the Razorback record books and into collegiate history to claim the NCAA all-time best spot at both 60-meter and 110-meter hurdles, the latter which had previously stood for 36 years. The two collegiate records were the second and third for Case having coached the 2013 4×400-meter relay team (currently second best performers in NCAA history) to a collegiate best during the indoor season that culminated to the team’s 41st national title.
Over the last two years Case developed McLeod from a young man with raw talent to one of the best high-hurdlers in the world. In his freshman season as a Razorback McLeod earned the title of SEC Freshman Runner of the Year for his second place performance in the 60-meter hurdles only to drop .12 seconds two weeks later to collect his first national title. With the guidance of Case, McLeod continued on to two more SEC titles, defended his indoor national title, collected two outdoor national titles breaking the Razorback 4×100-meter relay record with his teammates in the process, and capped his amateur career as a Bowerman Trophy semifinalist and with a victory at the Jamaican National Championships as the first collegian to run a non-wind assisted sub-13 time in the 110-meter hurdles.
Along with McLeod, the 2015 NCAA Championship winning 4×100-meter team assembled by Case included SEC Freshman Runner of the Year Kenzo Cotton and individual indoor event All-Americans Jarrion Lawson and Marqueze Washington. The entire group followed their national championship performance with a sixth place finish in the 4×400-meter relay. In addition to managing the athletes in relay competition, Case was responsible for the breakthrough performance by Lawson at 100 meters who went from unknown in the event to the third fastest in the country in the a span of one month.
2016 brought further notoriety for the sprints and hurdles specialist as both Cotton and Lawson as well as McLeod (on the professional circuit) continued to thrive under Case’s guidance.
The collegiate duo and returning 4-x-100 relay members both placed nationally in individual sprint events during the indoor and outdoor season – Lawson accomplishing the coveted Jesse Owens triple with victories in the 100, 200 and long jump at the NCAA outdoor championship. Cotton and Lawson also assisted the 4-x-100 team once again racing to a spot on the podium with a third-place finish. In all, Case’s event group accounted for half of Arkansas’ point total, largely contributing to the program’s national runner-up finish.
Lawson and Cotton both qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials advancing to the semifinals in both the 100 and 200 in their debut at the event. As the seventh place finisher in the 100, Lawson earned a spot on Team USA’s 4-x-100 relay team, going on to assist them at the Olympic Games during the preliminary round of competition.
A product of the mentoring of both Case and assistant field events coach Travis Geopfert, Lawson was the first member of the Arkansas men’s track and field team to be a finalist for the sport’s most prestigious honor the Bowerman Award. He also was the first collegiate track athlete to earn an ESPYs nomination in the Best Male College Athlete category.
Still responsible for the development of McLeod, Case coached the Jamaican hurdle talent through several major competitions during 2016, watching on as the four-time NCAA champion implemented his techniques to race to a World indoor championship, a second Jamaican national title and an Olympic gold medal.
His work isn’t limited to the track as Case developed the abilities of All-American pole vaulter Andrew Irwin who in his time with Arkansas won two NCAA championships and five SEC titles. Case’s work with Irwin has won the Mt. Ida, Ark., native five All-America honors, SEC Freshman Field Athlete of the Year awards both indoor and out, the SEC Field Athlete of the Year for the 2012 outdoor season and USTFCCCA South Central Region Field Athlete of the Year accolades.
Prior to joining his mentor on the Arkansas coaching staff, Case was a very successful coach at Northern Iowa, leading his student-athletes to two individual national championships, 43 All-America honors and 68 national championship qualifiers. His athletes dominated the Missouri Valley Conference with 97 individual and relay championships in his time with the Panthers and set school records in 10 events.
While Case is proud of the efforts of all of his former competitors, 800-meter runner Tyler Mulder and pole vaulter Jacob Pauli hold a special place with Case after the tandem won national titles in 2008 and 2001, respectively. Mulder earned his title with a spectacular 1:49.20 at the national meet and Pauli went on to finish third at the 2007 USA Outdoor Championship.
Case’s career path saw him make a stop at Arkansas State before taking the head coaching position at Drake and eventually Northern Iowa. At Arkansas State, the Red Wolves won nine Sun Belt Conference titles and Case recruited 52 outdoor and 49 indoor individual conference champions, four All-Americans, seven Olympic Trials qualifiers and three Olympians. His three-year stint at Drake included three school records and a ninth-place finish by the distance medley relay at the NCAA Championship.
A former Northern Iowa sprinter, Case set eight school records between 1982 and 1986 and was an all-conference performer. A native of Marshalltown, Iowa, Case received his bachelor’s degree from UNI in 1987 and served as a graduate assistant with the Panthers the next two seasons. He and his wife, Chris, have four children: Kelsey, Lauren, Cameron and Regan.
Former Razorback distance harrier Josphat Boit is in his first season as a volunteer assistant coach with the Arkansas distance crew.
Boit was a two-time NCAA Champion while running for the Hogs. He took the 2006 NCAA Indoor 5K title and followed that up by winning the 2006 NCAA Outdoor 10,000-meter race.
Boit earned eight All-America certificates and was a six-time SEC Champion during his time at Arkansas. He was also a 10-time All-SEC performer. He remains the second fastest 8K cross country performer in Razorback history from his 22 minutes 59.10 seconds showing at the 2005 SEC Championships and is one of only three Razorbacks to win consecutive SEC individual titles (2004-05).
Boit also still holds the second fastest 10K on Arkansas’ all-time bests list with his 28:07.27 in 2005. Following his time with the Razorbacks Boit began competing on the professional circuit, setting a new PR in the 10K of 27:40.44 in Palo Alto, California.
In 2014 Boit finished 21st at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championship, recording a time of 1:01:33 over the 13.1 mile course in Copenhagen,
He received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in May, 2006. Boit, who lives and trains in Fayetteville, married the former Shenan Moiseichik on May 22, 2008.