Impressive Razorback signing class totals 21 additions for upcoming season
FAYETTEVILLE – The signing class for Arkansas men’s track and field for the 2021-22 season totals 21 new Razorbacks. The impressive array of talent is joining a team that earned program of the year accolades in 2020-21 and swept all three SEC Championships to complete its 16th conference triple crown.
“I’m thrilled with the class we have coming into our program, and appreciate the hard work of our staff,” said Arkansas men’s head coach Chris Bucknam, who is beginning his 14th season with the Razorbacks. “They’ve done a phenomenal job putting this class together.
“It represents our emphasis on being a broad-based program with the event areas this group covers. I’m thrilled that these student-athletes have chosen the University of Arkansas to continue their education and pursue their athletic ambitions. When they come to Fayetteville the two biggest assets are their time and effort, and that’s what they are going to get from us, as coaches and staff, in return.”
Headlining the incoming class are Ayden Owens, a decathlete who scored 8,238 points this season and placed second in the NCAA Championships with Michigan, along with a pair of elite prep sprinters in Brandon Battle of Edwardsville, Illinois, and Connor Washington from The Woodlands, Texas.
Owens was named Big 10 Field Athlete of the Year in 2021 as he won the conference decathlon title with his career best score, breaking the meet record and Michigan school record. His decathlon score ranks 15th on the 2021 world list. Owens was also a bronze medalist in the heptathlon at the NCAA Indoor Championships hosted by Arkansas.
Battle completed a sweep of Illinois state titles in the 100m, 200m, and 400m this season while Washington sped to a winning time of 20.39 in the Texas 6A 200m along with a wind-aided 10.00 as runner-up in the 100m.
Washington’s 200m best ranks second among high school marks this season and his 100m equals the top mark under all-conditions in 2021 while equaling the third best prep mark all-time. Battle’s 46.48 in the 400m ranks fourth this season.
Washington also ran third leg on the The Woodlands College Park 4×400 relay that claimed the state title in 3:13.37, the outdoor leader for 2021 and second fastest this season. He anchored the relay to victories in Area (3:13.69) and Region (3:13.74) meets in qualifying for the state meet.
Ten of the Razorback newcomers are collegiate transfers, who have experience competing in national or conference championships. Event areas covered by the incoming group include sprints (6), hurdles (5), middle distance (5), distance (2), jumps (2), throws, and multi-event.
International athletes joining the Arkansas Razorbacks world-wide brand include Jamaica’s Devontie Archer, Mats Hauge of Norway, Sweden’s Adam Landén, and Elias Schreml of Germany.
Archer’s best of 50.43 in the 400m hurdles ranks fifth on the world U20 list for 2021, while a 46.39 in the 400m is third best among Jamaica juniors and 21st on the world list.
Landén, who competed on the high school level with IMG Academy in Florida, was the lead-off leg of the winning 4×400 relay at the adidas Indoor Nationals where IMG posted a time of 3:13.33, the top prep time this season.
Additions to the Razorback roster also include Reuben Reina, an Arkansas state champion at 1,600m and 3,200m who established the fastest prep mile in Arkansas history at 4:07.53 in Nashville, which ranks 17th in the nation for this season. He also posted a 4:07.69 in the Brooks PR Invitational this summer.
Reina follows an impressive collection of family members who have competed for the Razorbacks. His father, Reuben, a 1992 Olympian, was a two-time NCAA champion, eight-time All-American and member of six NCAA Championship teams with the Razorbacks.
Ben Shearer, younger brother of current Razorback Josh, ranks fifth on the 2021 high school list in the 3,000m with an 8:14.66, ranks 10th with a two-mile time of 8:48.90, and 14th in the mile at 4:07.40.
Arkansas Razorbacks Signing Class 2021-22
Ayden Owens | Wexford, Pennsylvania | North Allegheny HS | Michigan & USC
Competing at Michigan, named Big 10 Field Athlete of the Year in 2021. NCAA silver medalist in decathlon with score of 8,114 points, after setting career best and Michigan school record of 8,238 points to win Big 10 title with a meet record. His decathlon score ranks 15th on the 2021 world list. Bronze medalist in heptathlon at NCAA Indoor with score of 5,995 points, after claiming Big 10 title with score of 5,751.
Competing at USC in 2019, won Bryan Clay Invitational decathlon with score of 8,130. Bronze medalist in 110m hurdles at Pac-12 Championships with a career best 13.76, also member of winning 4×400 relay and bronze medal 4×100 relay.
Connor Washington | The Woodlands, Texas | The Woodlands College Park
2021 State 6A champion at 200m with a career best of 20.39. Silver medalist in 100m with a wind-aided time of 10.00, matching the winning time but separated by 0.001 of a second (9.998 to 9.999). Under all-conditions, Washington’s 10.00w equals the third best performer and performance on the high school all-time list.
College Park finished third in team scoring for the State 6A division as Washington supplied 23 of the 38 points. He also ran third leg on the winning 4×400 relay (3:13.37), an outdoor high school leading time for 2021. Washington anchored the 4×400 relay to victories during the Area (3:13.69) and Region (3:13.74) meets in qualifying for the State meet.
As a sophomore in 2019, won 100m title at AAU Junior Olympics while finishing second in 200m. Bronze medalist in 400m at 2019 UIL state meet with a 47.46, after setting PR of 47.43 in winning Region II-6A title.
Brandon Battle | Edwardsville, Illinois | Edwardsville HS
Won sprint triple crown in 2021 Illinois state meet, winning 100m, 200m and 400m. Indoors, claimed 200m and 400m double at Illinois Meet of Champions. Went undefeated outdoors in the three sprint events in his senior season, which included 15 races overall. Personal best marks include 10.61w in 100m, 21.46 in 200m, and 46.48 in 400m.
James Benson II | Charleston, Illinois | Salmen HS | Southeastern Louisiana
Competed at Southeastern Louisiana. Bronze medalist in 400m at 2021 Southland Conference Championships, member of silver medal 4×400 relay and fourth place 4×100 relay. Finished third in 400m at Texas Relays in 46.12 after a 46.05 in prelims. In 2020, Southland Indoor silver medalist in 400m and finished fourth in 200m. Bronze medalist in 400m at 2019 AAU Junior Olympics. Career best marks include 20.79 in the 200m, 46.05 in the 400m, and 1:23.45 in 600m.
Phillip Anderson | Jonesboro, Arkansas | Nettleton HS | Arkansas-Little Rock
Ran career best 47.70 to win 400m at Miami Hurricane Invitational while competing at Arkansas-Little Rock. Member of bronze medal 4×400 relay at 2021 Sun Belt Indoor Championships and fifth-place distance medley relay. In 2020, ran on silver medal 4×400 relay at Sun Belt Indoor. Coached by Razorback alum Derek Jacobus.
Won 400m at 2019 Arkansas Meet of Champions with a then PR of 49.34 after pair of silver medals at Arkansas 5A state meet in the 200m and 400m. Also won 400m title at 2019 Arkansas Indoor state meet.
Adam Landén | Rydebäck, Sweden | IMG Academy, Bradenton, Florida
Recently represented Sweden in the European U20 Championships in Estonia. Member of IMG 4×400 relay that won adidas Indoor Nationals in 3:13.33, the top prep time in 2021. In 2019, placed third in 400m and fourth in 200m at Swedish U18 Championships. Career best marks include 10.85 in 100m, 21.61 in 200m, and 48.97 in 400m. Posted a career best of 34.82 in 300m indoors to win 2021 Virginia Showcase. In adidas Indoor Nationals, finished sixth in 200m and seventh in 400m.
TJ Tomlyanovich | Cedar Falls, Iowa | Cedar Falls HS
2021 Iowa state champion in 400m with a career best of 47.54, runner-up in 800m with a PR of 1:53.08. Also ran anchor leg of winning 4×400 and sprint medley relays in state meet. Anchor leg of winning 4×400 and 4×800 relays at 2021 Drake Relays.
Devontie Archer | Jamaica | Excelsior HS
Silver medalist in 400m hurdles at Jamaica Junior Championships (51.69) and Boys & Girls Championships with career best 50.43, which improved his previous best of 50.88 from 2020. Ran first leg on winning 4×400 relay at Boys & Girls Championships. Also established career best mark of 46.39 in 400m during 2021. In 2019, produced a world youth leading time of 51.20 as runner-up in Boys & Girls Championships. Also, silver medalist in Jamaica U18 and NACAC U18 meets in 2019.
Matthew Lewis-Banks | Hazel Crest, Illinois | Homewood-Flossmoor HS, Flossmoor, Il | Indiana State
Three-time Missouri Valley Conference champion in hurdles at Indiana State. Swept MVC titles in 2021 with victories in 60m hurdles and 110m hurdles. Also won 2020 MVC Indoor 60m hurdle title. Runner-up in 2019 at both MVC meets. Career best marks include 6.92 in 60m, 7.85 in 60m hurdles, and 13.78 in 110m hurdles. In high school, placed second in 2018 Illinois state meet in 300m hurdles and fourth in 110m hurdles.
Boaz Madeus | Trenton, New Jersey | Nottingham HS, Hamilton, NJ | Rutgers
Competed at Rutgers, producing best marks of 50.79 in 400m hurdles, 1:02.67 in 500m, and 1:17.99 in 600m. Member of winning distance medley relay in 2020 IC4A Indoor Championships. Advanced to 2018 NCAA Championships in 400m hurdles and 4×400 relay, after placing fourth at Big 10 Championships and running on silver medal 4×400 relay. Won 500m title in 2018 IC4A Indoor and finished fifth in 600m at Big 10 Indoor. Represented Haiti at the 2018 World U20 Championships as well as CAC Games and NACAC Championships.
As a prep, won 2017 AAU Junior Olympics title in 400m hurdles with a 51.92. Indoors, won 400m (48.61) title at 2017 USATF Youth Indoor Championships. Claimed 400m hurdle title in 2016 New Balance Nationals.
Brevin Sims | Chattanooga, Tennessee | Chattanooga School for the Arts & Sciences | Syracuse
Named 2020 Tennessee Gatorade Athlete of the Year. Career best marks in high school included 7.76 in 60m hurdles, 13.68 in 110m hurdles, and 37.02 in 300m hurdles. His 7.76 ranked No. 1 in the U.S. for the season and is the Tennessee state record. The 13.68 is a Tennessee state record and he also holds the Tennessee State meet record of 13.80. A nine-time state champion and 15-time state medalist. Claimed four consecutive state titles in 60m hurdles, three in the 110m hurdles, and two in the 300m hurdles. Competed indoors at Syracuse in 2021, placing sixth in 60m hurdles (7.93) at ACC Championships.
Blanchard Montgomery IV | McKinney, Texas | McKinney HS | Purdue
Competed at Purdue in 2019, setting best marks of 8.07 in 60m hurdles, 14.08 in 110m hurdles and 51.07 in 400m hurdles. Earned MVP honor for McKinney high school as a senior in 2018. As a sophomore in 2016, finished fourth in 5A state meet with a then PR of 37.39 in the 300m hurdles. Repeated 37.39 career best in 2017.
Reuben Reina | Springdale, Arkansas | Har-Ber HS
Senior campaign included pair of Arkansas 6A state titles in 1,600m and 3,200m while establishing state record in 1,600m (4:09.86) in winning Arkansas Meet of Champions and becoming fastest miler in Arkansas history with a 4:07.53 in Nashville, which ranks 17th in the nation for this season. He also posted a 4:07.69 in the Brooks PR Invitational this summer. Set career best of 8:58.82 in 3,200m during 2021 season. Won 2020 Arkansas Indoor state title at 3,200m. Member of cross country team which finished as runner-up in 2020 Arkansas 6A state meet.
Family history with Arkansas track and field includes parents Reuben and Joell, sister Valerie, and two uncles. Father, a 1992 Olympian, was two-time NCAA champion, eight-time All-American and member of six NCAA Championship teams with the Razorbacks.
Mats Hauge | Norway
Silver medalist in 1,500m at 2020 Norwegian Championships, which were held in September due to pandemic. Personal best marks include 1:50.02 in 800m, 3:39.69 in 1,500m, 3:57.25 in mile, set in 2020 along with an 8:01.20 in 3,000m set in 2021. In 2018, claimed Norway U22 title in 1,500m and finished second in 800m a week after placing third in Norway senior meet.
Leroy Russell | Scarborough, Ontario, Canada | Eagles Landing HS, McDonough, Ga. | Indiana State
Competed at Indiana State from 2019 to 2021, producing best marks of 1:50.19 in 800m, 3:53.18 in 1,500m, and 4:16.49 in mile. Competed in 800m and 1,500m at 2021 Missouri Valley Championships. Indoors, finished fourth in 800m at MVC Championships and ran on runner-up distance medley relay.
In high school, finished fifth in 3,200m at 2019 Georgia 5A state meet, ninth in 1,600m. Set high school best marks of 4:24.44 in 1,600m, 9:52.13 in 3,200m.
Jack Williams | Fayetteville, Arkansas | Fayetteville HS
In 2021 Arkansas 6A State Championship, placed fourth in 3,200m and fifth in 1,600m. Ran mile in 4:18.67 for seventh in Kansas City. Career best marks include 4:18.16 in 1,500m and 9:12.84 in 3,200m. During cross country season as a senior, won Arkansas state title and was runner-up in Arkansas vs. Oklahoma All-Star meet. In 2020, placed second in 3,200 and finished third in 1,600m at Arkansas Indoor state meet.
Anthonie Alvarez | Springdale, Arkansas | Har-Ber HS
Won 800m title at 2021 Arkansas 6A state meet and placed sixth in 1,600m. Personal best marks include 1:54.24 in 800m, 4:24.24 in 1,600m. In cross country, placed 13th in 2020 Chile Pepper Festival, 29th in Arkansas state meet.
Elias Schreml | Germany
Established a career best of 13:58.48 in the 5,000m during 2021 season. Also has career best times of 3:43.21 in 1,500m, and 8:05.49 in 3,000m. In senior meet, finished fifth in 3,000m with his PR at 2020 German Indoor Championships. Claimed gold in 3,000m at 2019 European U20 Championships. Competes with club team LG Olympia Dortmund, and captured German U20 titles in various distance – 10,000m (2018), 3,000m indoor (2019) and 5,000m (2019).
Ben Shearer | The Woodlands, Texas | The Woodlands Christian Academy
TAPPS state cross country champion as a junior and senior while team claimed four consecutive state team titles. Career best marks include 4:07.40 mile,8:14.66 in 3,000m, 8:48.90 two-mile, and 14:39 over 5,000m in cross country. Among 2021 national high school list, ranked fifth in 3,000m, 10th in two-mile and 14th in mile.
Triple TAPPS state champion at 800m, 1,600m and 3,200m in 2021. During 2019 season, finished as runner-up in those three events at TAPPS state meet.
Jalon Simpson | Kalamazoo, Michigan | Portland HS, Portland, Michigan | Olivet Nazarene University
2019 NAIA national champion in javelin with a career best throw of 232-11 (70.99) after a runner-up finish in 2018 and fourth in 2017. Claimed three Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference titles in the javelin, finished second in weight throw in 2020 after pair of fourth-place finishes. Linebacker as member of football team at Olivet Nazarene, earned All-Conference honors twice, second-team All-American and served as team captain twice.
Christian Matamoros | El Paso, Texas | Burges HS | Arkansas-Little Rock
During freshman season at UA-Little Rock, set the indoor high jump record of 6-11 (2.11) in claiming silver medal at 2020 Sun Belt Indoor Championships and was named Most Outstanding T&F Athlete at Little Rock. Finished fourth at 2021 Sun Belt Indoor. Coached by Razorback alum Derek Jacobus.
In high school, cleared 6-8 in 2018 to win district title. Cleared a best of 6-7 as a sophomore and senior. Placed seventh in UIL 5A state meet in 2019, after clearing 6-7 to place second at Region I-5A.