Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
JOHN MCDONNELL INVITATIONAL:
Razorbacks find thrower in Randall
Arkansas coach Chris Bucknam watches during the Razorback Invitational Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas has scored points in a lot of events in winning SEC track and field championships, but it’s been a while since the Razorbacks got much production in the discus and shot put.
Devin Randall hopes to change that.
Randall, a redshirt sophomore from Bartlesville, Okla., had personal bests in winning the discus (181-6) and taking second in the shot put (56-83/4) Saturday at the McDonnell Invitational.
Razorbacks Coach Chris Bucknam said those marks should qualify Randall for the NCAA West Regional, which will be held in Fayetteville on May 29-31, and could score at the SEC meet, held May 15-18 in Lexington, Ky.
“Down the road, I think Devin can throw over 200 feet in the discus and over 60 feet in the shot,” Bucknam said. “Those are big throws. That’s like running a 4-minute mile.”
Randall, 6-4 and 290 pounds, committed to sign a football scholarship with Tulsa as a defensive end his senior year at Bartlesville High School, then changed his mind and came to Arkansas for track.
“I just really wasn’t that interested in playing football in college, and track was really starting to pick up for me,” Randall said.
Because he was committed to play football, Randall said he didn’t get much interest from track programs. He wound up picking Arkansas over Missouri.
“Switching over to track in college was a little bit of a change, but I’m pretty comfortable with it now,” Randall said. “I don’t miss playing football.”
Randall said he didn’t consider trying to compete in football and track and field at Tulsa.
“Not many people get the privilege to do that,” he said. “I figured it was just going to be football.”
Arkansas field events coach Travis Geopfert recruited Randall.
“Travis was talking about him saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got a line on a good thrower in Oklahoma. Let’s see if we can’t get him,’ ” Bucknam said. “Devin understood the big picture, what we had going here.
“I think he liked the feel of our program and felt he could be a little bit of a pioneer as far as attracting some other good throwers.
“He’s a smart kid. He’s an engineering student.
We’re thrilled to have him. He’s starting to make some big gains.”
In other events Saturday, Arkansas senior Anthony May won the triple jump (52-3 1/4) and took second in the long jump (25-0 1/2); junior Andrew Irwin won the pole vault (17-81/2); senior Raymond Higgs won the long jump (25-2 1/4); junior Patrick Rono won the 800 meters (1:49.68); freshman Aidan Swain won the 3,000 (8:57.78); freshman Larry Donald won the 400 hurdles (52.63); and the team of freshman Omar McLeod and seniors Travis Southard and Neil Braddy won the 1,600 relay in 3:13.31. Senior Kevin Lazas won Friday’s javelin with a 204-0 throw.
Freshman Regine Williams led Arkansas’ women’s team with victories in the 100 (11.29), 200 (23.72) and 400 (54.43). She also ran a leg on the Razorbacks’ winning 400-relay team.
“Regine’s a consummate competitor,” Arkansas Coach Lance Harter said. “It’s a confirmation that she’s just getting stronger and stronger. She’s going to be very special.”
Arkansas took the top three spots in the 1,500 with sophomore Dominque Scott (4:19.72), senior Grace Heymsfield (4:20.47) and junior Diane Robinson (4:23.23).
Razorbacks junior Sandi Morris won the pole vault (14-7 1/4); sophomore Alex Gouchenour won the 100 hurdles (13.48); junior Kaitlin Flattman won the 3,000 (10:09.65); and junior Tamara Myers won the triple jump (42-7 1/2).
Sports, Pages 30 on 04/13/2014