FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – On the heels of an historic NCAA title for the women and a national championship runner-up finish for the men at last weekend’s NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., Arkansas has vaulted to its highest ranking of the year in the 2015-16 Learfield Directors’ Cup.
Arkansas is ranked No. 21 in the standings released Tuesday morning by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of America (NACDA). The Razorbacks have earned a total of 820 points in the competition, moving up five spots from the previous standings released earlier this month.
Arkansas ranks fourth among Southeastern Conference (SEC) programs and is one of six SEC programs in the Top 25 of the current standings. The Directors’ Cup tracks the nation’s most successful intercollegiate athletics programs for their performances throughout the year. The final Directors’ Cup standings will be released at the conclusion of the College World Series.
Arkansas added a new chapter to its rich track and field history last weekend when it captured its first women’s outdoor track and field national championship. Coach Lance Harter’s squad earned its second national championship in as many years, after winning the 2015 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship. Senior Dominique Scott-Efurd concluded her extraordinary Razorback career by winning both the 5K and 10K. Freshman Lexi Weeks completed an NCAA pole vault sweep, capturing the outdoor title after winning the indoor title last March. The national championship netted Arkansas 100 points in the Directors’ Cup standings.
The Razorbacks also scored big earning 90 points for their men’s track and field national runner-up finish. Led by an epic 31.5 point individual performance by Jarrion Lawson, Arkansas finished second overall in the team competition trailing national champion, Florida, by only six points. Lawson did something at the NCAA meet that hadn’t been done in 80 years. The senior won three individual events (100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and long jump) at an NCAA Outdoor Championship becoming the first to do so since track and field legend Jesse Owens accomplished the feat in 1935 and 1936.
Both the Razorback men’s and women’s golf teams advanced through NCAA Regionals to earn berths in the NCAA Golf Championships in Eugene, Ore. Playing in its fifth NCAA championship tournament in the past eight years, the men’s team finished 12th overall in the field and tallied 64.5 points. The Razorback women’s team also challenged for a spot in the team match play competition before finishing tied for 12th in stroke play on the same golf course. Arkansas picked up 63.75 points in the Directors’ Cup standings for the women’s golf finish.
A return to the NCAA Tournament by the men’s tennis team also added 50 points to the Razorbacks’ ledger. Arkansas earned a tournament berth for the first time in a decade and won its first round match against Wichita State before falling to host Oklahoma State in the second round. The Razorback women’s team also earned a postseason berth in Stillwater, Okla. Arkansas lost its opening round match, but tallied 25 points for the NCAA appearance.
One of the most consistent performers in the Razorback program, the gymnastics program advanced to its 13th-consecutive NCAA Regional in 2016. Arkansas finished just short of qualifying for the NCAA Championship, but did earn 59.25 points for its NCAA regional finish.
The Razorback men’s track and field team earned 90 points with a second place finish at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Birmingham, Ala. The SEC champion Hogs racked up 39 points, including 10 points apiece from individual event national champions Lawson (long jump) and Clive Pullen (triple jump).
Arkansas’ women’s track and field team also made a late run to earn national championship runner-up honors and netted 90 points for the Directors Cup at the NCAA Indoors. The Razorbacks earned their second-highest finish at the national indoor meet and finished in the top three at the NCAA meet for the third time in program history. Weeks highlighted the meet by becoming the first freshman to win the NCAA women’s pole vault title. Arkansas finished with a total of 50 points, just three points shy of the national championship team total.
Arkansas earned a total of 187.5 points in the fall segment of the competition. The Hogs earned 45 points after capping the football season by winning its second-consecutive bowl game with a 45-23 victory over Kansas State in the 2016 AutoZone Liberty Bowl. The Razorbacks won for the sixth time in their last seven games, finishing the season with an 8-5 record.
After both the Arkansas men’s and women’s teams won the SEC Cross Country Championship in October, the two squads earned Top-10 finishes at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Louisville, Kentucky. The men’s cross country team capped its season with a sixth-place finish at the NCAA meet. Arkansas earned 73.5 points for the finish, placing it among the Top 10 nationally in three of the past six seasons. Arkansas women’s cross country raced to a ninth-place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championship. This is the second-consecutive season the Razorbacks finished among the 10 best programs in the nation in women’s cross country.
Arkansas earned a program record 16th-place finish last year in the 2014-15 Learfield Directors’ Cup. The Razorbacks finished the academic year with a program record 912.5 points, besting the previous point total of 830 in 2012-13 by more than 82 points.
Arkansas has earned a spot among the nation’s Top 30 programs in seven of the past eight years. In addition to last year’s 16th-place overall finish, the Razorbacks recorded Top-30 finishes in 2007-08 (24th), 2008-09 (25th), 2010-11 (24th), 2011-12 (20th), 2012-13 (21st), and 2013-14 (28th).
The Directors’ Cup program has been tracking the success of the nation’s top intercollegiate athletics programs since 1993-94.