Arkansas Track and Field Camps
Chris Bucknam is in his eighth season, coming off his fifth SEC Cross Country Title this fall. A veteran in the coaching ranks, Bucknam took the head coaching position at Arkansas on June 27, 2008, after a 25-year stint at Northern Iowa.
Following an SEC Cross Country Title, highlighted by individual SEC Champion Kemoy Campbell, the Razorbacks were led to their third NCAA South Central Regional Title under Bucknam’s guidance. Stanley Kebenei led Arkansas to the Regional Title, becoming the second NCAA Regional Individual Champion with Bucknam at the helm.
Since assuming the head coaching position at Arkansas, Bucknam has enjoyed tremendous success in the form of 14 Southeastern Conference championships, four NCAA regional titles, and multiple All-Americans as well as individual SEC champions but all pale in comparison to the achievement of his 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 12 times and national coach of the year one time.
Nationally, Bucknam’s guidance has led the Razorbacks to 14 top 10 finishes since his arrival in Fayetteville. His cross country squads have placed in the top 10 in twice in his tenure while track and field has 12 top 10s including two national runner-up finishes and a national title.
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 his student-athletes to 26 marks that have etched themselves on Arkansas’ prestigious all-time top 10 lists including two school records in the indoor distance medley relay and outdoor 10,000 meters.
The 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 two student-athletes on the Capital One Academic All-America squads over the past five years, including one this past season, had more than 60 named to the SEC Academic Honor Rolls, earned 35 United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) all-academic honorees and been included in the USTFCCCA team awards six times.
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.