Razorback 4×400 relay victorious with second fastest time in school history

FAYETTEVILLE – Fast times and stellar performances continued into the second day of the Tyson Invitational with Arkansas winning the 4×400 relay in 3 minutes, 28.39 seconds to produce the second fastest time in school history.

In individual races, Shafiqua Maloney produced a collegiate-leading time of 2:01.74 to defeat a trio of 2:04 finishers behind her while Jayla Hollis finished third in the 200m with a career best time of 22.99 that equals Taylor Ellis-Watson at No. 3 on the UA all-time list.

“I’m very proud of the weekend,” said Arkansas associate head coach Chris Johnson. “In the relay I was hoping Florida could challenge us, but they had an injury and it’s unfortunate, I’m sure they will be back in the conference meet. The conference meet is going to be stacked with us, Florida, Kentucky, and Texas A&M.

“The 800m went as expected with Shafiqua leading from start to finish. That was our gameplan and she executed the race pretty good. I’m very proud of Shafiqua, who was just off her PR by five tenths of a second. Hollis with a 22.99 is big for her, we’re ecstatic about that performance.”

Expecting a challenge from Florida in the 4×400, the Razorbacks had a spectacular start from Britton Wilson as she split 51.88 and was followed by Hollis with a 51.93 second leg carry. Well ahead of the field as Florida did not finish, Paris Peoples split 53.00 and Rosey Effiong closed out the victory in 51.98 as Iowa finished second in 3:32.38.

Arkansas’ talent depth in the 4×400 enabled a second unit to win another section and place third overall in 3:32.53. The Hog foursome included Joanne Reid (54.58), Jayla Baylark (52.92), Maloney (51.63), and Ashanti Denton (53.39).

“When you look at the conference and national meets with the schedules, depth is going to be helpful,” said Johnson. “We didn’t run Morgan Burks-Magee this weekend as well and Shafiqua split 51.6 on the second squad.

“To run those type of times by ourselves, I think we can compete with the best in the country, if not be the best.”

Maloney, who holds the UA record at 2:01.22, challenged the meet record of 2:01.00 set in 2001 by Jearl Miles-Clark in her victory. Splits for Maloney included 29.11, 30.71 [59.82], 31.17 [1:30.99], and 30.75. Florida State’s Ruby Stauber followed in 2:04.51 ahead of 2:04.56 by Iowa’s Mallory King and a 2:04.70 by Michael Rose of LSU.

“I think it was a pretty good race,” said Maloney. “2:01 was definitely easier than the one I ran at nationals last year. So, that was pretty encouraging. I just followed the race plan my coach game me and that was the result.

“There’s always room for improvement and we’ll go back to the drawing board to get prepared for the SECs and nationals.”

The Tyson Invitational meet record of 22.51 held by Veronica Campbell since 2004 remained intact with Florida’s Talitha Diggs winning in 22.75 over a 22.81 by LSU’s Favour Ofili.

“Coach Johnson does a good job letting me know what needs to be done before I get into the race,” stated Hollis, who improved her previous best of 23.16, which ranked No. 8 on the UA all-time list. “Then I focus on executing. I feel like in the future I will be running way faster, because there is a lot I can improve on.”

The only two times ahead of Hollis in Arkansas history are the school record of 22.43 by Veronica Campbell set in 2004 and a 22.97 by Payton Chadwick in 2019.

Finishing behind the 22.99 by Hollis were a LSU pair of Amber Anning (23.27) and Leah Phillips (23.29) while Razorback teammates Reid (23.25, No. 10 UA) and Baylark (23.36) placed sixth and seventh. Career best times were established by Yoveinny Mota (23.75) and Daszay Freeman (23.93).

“Joanne ran 23.3 and as a freshman to go out and run that fast on top of her 400 yesterday is fantastic,” added Johnson.

A career best leap of 40-10.5 (12.46) by Alexis Torn placed her at No. 8 on the Arkansas all-time list. Sydney Billington placed sixth in the high jump at 5-7.5 (1.72), the same height that determined places third through seventh.

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