After Arkansas men’s track and field head coach Chris Bucknam’s Razorbacks finished third at the NCAA Championships last season, and Lance Harter’s women’s team finished third in the Terry Crawford Program of the Year standings for 2012-13, it is without question Arkansas has some of the top talent in the nation.
There is a nice mixture of talent on each team. Distance runners, sprinters, jumpers, you name it. But Arkansas also features some international flavor on its rosters.
The women’s team includes five members from outside the United States, three representing the Bahamas, one from Trinidad & Tobago and one from South Africa.
The men’s team, with 12 members, features quite a bit more flavor away from the mainland.
While all are talented in their own ways, several of the international team members stand out. Sprinter/hurdler Ivanique Kemp, distance runner Stanley Kebenei and jumper Raymond Higgs are three members that help their teams go. Here’s some more background on those standouts.
Stanley Kebenei – Distance
Kebenei, a native of Nakura, Kenya, is entering his first season with the Razorback track and field team. Standing at 5-feet-7-inches tall, Kebenei is the perfect fit for Bucknam’s distance squad.
The highly recruited international stud was quite the junior college standout. Prior to becoming a Razorback, Kebenei racked up award after award at Iowa Central.
In his freshman and sophomore seasons at Iowa Central, Kebenei was nothing short of fantastic. In just those two seasons, Kebenei was a nine-time National Junior College Athletic Association All-American and led his teams to three championships.
At the 2011 NJCAA Indoor Championships, Kebenei came out on top with first-place finishes in the mile as well as 3,000- and 5,000-meter races.
And again in 2011 at the outdoor championships, he nabbed three more titles, this time in the 1,500-meter, 5,000-meter and 3,000-meter steeplechase en route to leading his team to a runner-up national finish.
During his sophomore season in 2012, Kebenei took home more hardware, finishing as the national champion in the 1,000- and 5,000-meter runs.
Ivanique Kemp – Sprinter/Hurdler
It isn’t very often that a college program sends runners to the Summer Olympic Games and has success. But that’s exactly what happened with Harter, Arkansas and Ivanique Kemp.
Representing her home country of The Bahamas, Kemp traveled to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London and competed very well.
Kemp competed in the 100-meter hurdles, getting through to the semi-finals with a time of 13.51. In the semi-finals Kemp ran a 13.56, finishing last.
But before her days wearing the cardinal and white, or as an Olympian in London, Kemp made her presence felt on the international scene.
Kemp competed in the 2009 Pan American Games and the World Junior Championships in 2010. To go along with her international experience, Kemp saw success at Seton Hall before making the decision to transfer to Arkansas.
After leaving Seton Hall for Fayetteville before the 2011 season, Kemp immediately made an impact on Harter’s squad.
To begin her Razorback career, Kemp nabbed back-to-back victories in the 60-meter hurdles at the Arkansas Invitational and Virginia Tech Invitational.
In three seasons with the Razorbacks, Kemp is a three-time All-American and a 2012 All-Southeastern Conference competitor. But it doesn’t stop there. Kemp broke the school’s indoor record in 2013 with a time of 8.13 seconds in the 60 meter hurdles.
Kemp is looking to better her selections to the All-American and All-SEC second teams in 2013 and, with her talent,that is a good possibility.
Raymond Higgs – Jumper
Much like Kemp, the highlight of senior Raymond Higgs’ track and field career was participating in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, representing The Bahamas in the long jump.
Higgs is a two-year letterwinner at Arkansas. After redshirting during the 2010 indoor and outdoor season and sitting out the 2012 indoor season, Higgs was exceptional in 2011 and the 2012 outdoor season.
By the time his sophomore season was over, Higgs had been named an SEC All-Freshman Indoor and Outdoor selection, a 2012 All-SEC selection and a three-time All-American.
Higgs had a great year in 2011, tallying all five of his personal bests in one year. Higgs picked a good time to set a personal best in the outdoor long jump in 2011, jumping a stunning 26-feet-9-inches at the SEC Championships.
Then, two days later, Higgs tied a personal best in the high jump at the SEC Championships, jumping seven-feet and one-half inches.
He is without a doubt one of the leaders for the field portion of this team, and looks to have continued success in 2014.