FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas men’s head coach Chris Bucknam announced Travis Geopfert’s return to the Razorbacks track and field program as an associate head coach following three years with Tennessee, where Geopfert served as associate head coach with the men’s and women’s teams.
Previously, Geopfert was an assistant coach with the Razorbacks for nine seasons with Bucknam and associate head coach Doug Case. The coaching trio of Bucknam, Case and Geopfert have worked together for 14 of the past 18 years at Northern Iowa (2003-2008) and Arkansas (2009-2018).
“My family and I are extremely excited to head back to Northwest Arkansas and to be back in the Razorback family,” said Geopfert. “It’s obviously a unique situation but an opportunity, professionally and personally, we just couldn’t pass up.
“Thank you to Coach Bucknam, Hunter Yurachek and Terry Prentice for extending our family this opportunity. I’d be lying if we didn’t feel like we are coming home and excited to raise our kids calling the hogs!”
On Geopfert’s return to the Razorback program, Bucknam stated: “I couldn’t be more excited to welcome the Geopfert family back to Arkansas. Travis was an integral part of our success for nine years with the Razorbacks and continued to have individual success at Tennessee. We look forward to seeing the impact he will have on our student-athlete’s success on and off the track.”
A pair of Tennessee athletes recently qualified for the Tokyo Olympics from Geopfert’s jumps crew. They include Carey McLeod (Jamaica), the only Olympic qualifier in both the long jump and triple jump, and Darryl Sullivan (USA) in the high jump.
Previous Olympians coached by Geopfert include Razorback greats Jarrion Lawson and Clive Pullen in 2016 as well as Raymond Higgs in 2012. Overall, Geopfert’s event area has included three Olympians in the long jump, two in the triple jump and one in the high jump.
Career best marks among those Olympians include a 28-1 ¾ (8.58) long jump for Lawson, 56-4 ¾ (17.19) triple jump for Pullen and 7-7 ¾ (2.33) high jump for Sullivan.
In 2016, Geopfert guided Lawson to become the program’s first recipient of the Bowerman award, which honors the top men’s collegiate track and field athlete. Lawson became the first athlete to duplicate Jesse Owen’s NCAA triple of winning the 100m, 200m, and long jump at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
A six-time NCAA champion, Lawson became the leading career scorer in the NCAA long jump. He placed fourth in the 2016 Rio Olympics long jump and claimed a silver medal in the 2017 World Championships.
At Arkansas, Geopfert was part of 18 SEC titles in track & field and cross country along with 17 NCAA top 10 finishes, which included a national championship in 2013 and four NCAA runner-up finishes.
Over his coaching career, Geopfert’s athletes have won 11 NCAA individual championships and earned 81 first-team All-America honors. On the conference level, Geopfert has generated 77 individual champions with 22 occurring in the SEC.
“I can’t deny my excitement to head back to Northwest Arkansas,” noted Geopfert. “The roots run deep there with family and friendships that go back over two decades. The university, the town, the community, and the people are all first class in every way. The history and tradition of Arkansas track and field is unprecedented and it’s a privilege to be a part of.”
With Tennessee, Geopfert contributed to a NCAA top 10 finish this recent indoor season as the Volunteers placed ninth in men’s team scoring. His jumps group supplied 33 of Tennessee’s 42 total points from the two NCAA Championships in 2021, producing 12 of UT’s 21 points at NCAA Indoor and all 21 points during the NCAA Outdoor where the Volunteer men finished 11th.
“It’s important for me to acknowledge my appreciation and respect for the University of Tennessee, Coach Beth Alford-Sullivan, the Tennessee coaches, staff and team,” stated Geopfert. “I value relationships tremendously and there are some amazing people that I was fortunate to work with and coach during our time in Knoxville.”
Coaching accolades for Geopfert include a pair of USTFCCCA National Assistant Coach of the Year honors and seven USTFCCCA Regional Assistant Coach of the Year honors. As head coach at Northern Iowa in 2009, Geopfert earned Missouri Valley Conference Head Coach of the Year honors for the indoor and outdoor seasons.
“As a team I’m ready for us to get after it on every front and continue the tremendous legacy that Coach McDonnell, Coach Bucknam, their coaches and student-athletes have built over the last 40 plus years,” said Geopfert. “My wife, Nicole, and I are thankful for this opportunity to reconnect with the coaches, the staff, our student-athletes, and their families.”