Ranked #1, UA women’s indoor track off to strong start
Nate Allen Sports
FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas’ nationally No. 1 NCAA Indoor track women ran away with the 10-team Razorback Invitational that Arkansas’ men’s and women’s teams hosted at the Randal Tyson Indoor Track.
Though team scores don’t mean much in meets besides the conference and NCAA championships (Arkansas hosts the SEC Indoor Feb. 22-23 while the NCAA Indoor awaits March 8-9 in Birmingham, Ala.) Coach Lance Harter’s women dominated with 145.5 points to 101 for runner-up Oregon with Kentucky 86 LSU, 71 and Kansas State, 67 third through fifth.
Oregon’s men edged Florida, 116-115 with Coach Chris Bucknam’s Razorbacks men third, 74, followed by LSU, 62, and fifth-place Mississippi State, 47.
In Saturday’s women’s 60-meter hurdles, Razorbacks women Payton Chadwick and Janeek Brown not only ran away with their meet event but from the world and Arkansas 60-meter dash winner Kiara Parker set a school record tied for best in the 2019 world.
Chadwick’s 8.01 and Brown’s 8.02 1-2 finish Saturday rank best in the world so far for 2019, it was announced.
Chadwick, clocking an 8.02 60-meter hurdles prelim Saturday morning, blistered a 22.97 200 meters Friday night in a photo finish second to Kentucky’s Abby Steiner, also officially 22.97, then capped Saturday running a leg on Arkansas’ victorious 4 x 400 relay.
Chadwick’s hurdles races Saturday didn’t start nearly like they finished.
“I didn’t execute my start but I executed between hurdles,” Chadwick, growing up Payton Stumbaugh while attending Springdale Har-Ber before marrying former Razorbacks pitcher Cannon Chadwick, said. “That’s what saved me today and my teammate, Janeek Brown, really pushed me today. Once I get that start with the rest of my race, there’s no telling what I can run.”
Arkansas’ Parker first eclipsed former Razorbacks Olympic gold medalist Veronica Campbell’s UA record running a 7.17 60-meter dash in the morning prelim then broke it and tied for the current 2019 world’s best by winning the final in 7.15.
“I’m honestly kind of shocked!” Parker said of her day at the races. “I knew I could do it but I just didn’t think it would come so soon.”
Arkansas’ Taylor Werner won the 3,000 (9:08.46) by nearly 17 seconds over Iowa State runner-up Cailie Logue.
Chasing Oregon defending NCAA champion Jessica Hull, 4:31.03, in the mile, Razorbacks Lauren Gregory, a freshman, and junior Carina Viljoen accomplished “huge PR’s,” Harter placing second and third in 4:32.92 and 4:33.38.
Friday Arkansas All-American twin sisters Lexi Weeks Jacobus Tori Weeks Hoggard of Cabot plus Arkansas’ Desiree Freier, also a senior All-American, and also already qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships, placed first, second and fourth in the women’s pole vault.
Jacobus, Hoggard and LSU’s Lisa Gunnarson all cleared 14-9 1-2.
Fewer misses determined the 1-2-3 finish. Freier vaulted 14-5 1-2 for fourth.
Kelsey Herman of Crossett won Friday’s women’s pentathlon totaling 4,189 points for the five events in one encompassing the 60-meter hurdles, shot put, high jump, long jump and 800-meter run.
“Oh, my gosh it’s coming together!” Harter exclaimed. “This is the real deal.”
For Bucknam’s men, rebuilding from losing a large senior class last year, the weekend’s highlights included Gabe Moore and Derek Jacobus advancing to the NCAA Indoor off their 5,865 and 5,556 first and third place points in the 2-day heptathlon, Erich Sullins, (65-10 1-4) wining Friday night’s 35-pound weight throw, and Cameron Griffith running Saturday his first sub 4-minute-mile, 3:59.68 overtaken at the last by Oregon star miler Cooper Teare, 3:59.21.
“It’s four seconds faster than he ran last year at this time and it’s his first sub 4-minute mile,” Bucknam said, noting the mile speed feeds into the plan to run Griffith in the 3,000 at the NCAA Indoor. “ This was his first race because he missed a week of training because his foot was a little sore. So a pretty good opener. It bodes well as we move forward. Big performances by Gabe and Derek Jacobus too.”
With NCAA qualifying apparently assured, Moore and Jacobus can work on individual events before their next heptathlon at the SEC Indoor.
“Only nine points off my heptathlon PR (personal record),” Moore said. “So to be at the end of January it’s looking pretty good.”