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.
Razorbacks men, women run away from Longhorns
Arkansas freshman Omar McLeod competes in the 60-meter hurdles during a dual meet against Texas on Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - What’s better for Arkansas than beating Texas?
Doing it twice.
That’s what happened Friday night, when the Razorbacks’ men’s and women’s track and field teams swept a dual meet against the Longhorns at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
The Razorbacks’ No. 1-ranked men’s team won the Arkansas-Texas Dual for the fifth consecutive year, pounding the No. 15 Longhorns 102-68.
Arkansas’ No. 7 women’s team beat No. 1 Texas 91-63.
Razorbacks men’s Coach Chris Bucknam has been stressing a return to more dual meets as part of the schedule for competitive reasons and to help increase fan interest.
“We’ve got a lot of improvement to make the next month, but I love going 1 on 1,” Bucknam said. “It feels a little bit like a boxing match.
“This is an important win for us. We enjoy this meet. It’s not complicated. It’s easy to follow.”
Freshman Omar McLeod led the Razorbacks with victories in the 60-meter hurdles (7.76 seconds) and 200 (21.09).
“Coming in as a freshman, I’m thinking like a senior athlete,” McLeod said. “Let’s go out there and represent.
“I know I’ve been training hard, so all I had to do was trust my training, go out there and have fun. It was a great experience. All I want to do is have fun, and the times will come.”
McLeod, from Kingston, Jamaica, has five victories in five races for the Razorbacks the past two weeks. Friday night marked only the second time he’s ever run a 200.
“His legs are a little bit tired from all the hard training he’s been doing, so that was a pretty good performance,” Bucknam said. “It’s just a sign of things to come.
“He’s handling this collegiate scene pretty good right off the bat. Just keep motoring along and keep a smile on his face, and he’s going to continue to make progress.”
McLeod had never run on an indoor track before coming to Arkansas, and he said it’s been an adjustment.
“I’m getting to like it,” he said.
Bucknam said Mc-Leod will run a lot faster as he gets used to running indoors.
“You can tell that he’s a great athlete, and he’s got a calm demeanor about him,” Bucknam said. “It will be fun to see what he does at the end of February and March.”
Arkansas senior Neil Braddy, from Fort Smith Southside, won the 400 in 46.36 and also anchored the 1,600 relay to a victory in 3:09.83.
“It’s a big deal for us to show we’re the No. 1 team in America,” Braddy said. “We take this meet very seriously. We know it’s a big deal for the fans as well as for us.”
Arkansas also got victories from senior Anthony May in the high jump (7-2 1/2) and triple jump (51-1 1/2), sophomore Jarrion Lawson in the long jump (25-7), junior Patrick Rono in the 800 (1:52.55), senior Stanley Kebenei in the mile (4:11.27) and senior Solomon Haile in the 3,000 (8:22.71).
Razorbacks sophomore pole vaulter Andrew Irwin, a two-time NCAA champion who is working his way back from a groin injury, took second, clearing 16-10. Bucknam held out distance runner Kemoy Campbell and horizontal jumper Raymond Higgs, both All-Americans, because of some minor ailments.
“We’ve got some cards we’ve still got to play,” Bucknam said. “Hopefully, they’ll be on the track by the end of the month.”
Arkansas and Texas’ women’s teams competed in a dual for the first time, and the Razorbacks could move into the top 5 in the next national poll considering their lopsided victory.
“That wasn’t Texas’ A team, they ran some people in odd events and didn’t really show their true lineup in many respects,” Arkansas Coach Lance Harter said. “But I was proud of our kids.
“It’s great momentum for the team as a whole to realize, ‘Hey, regardless of the rankings, on a given day it’s about head to-head competition.’ “
Arkansas freshman Regine Williams won the 200 in 23.48 and took second in the long jump at 19-4 1/2.
“Regine is a dynamo and has a great passion to compete,” Harter said.
The Razorbacks also got victories from junior Chrishuna Williams in the 400 (53.71), junior Jessica Kamilos in the 800 (2:13.21), senior Grace Heymsfield in the 1,000 (2:47.37), junior Dominique Scott in the mile (4:38.49), junior Kaitlin Flattmann in the 3,000 (9:44.05), junior Tamara Myers in the triple jump (41-8 1/2) and the distance medley relay team.
“It was just one event after another where we had really quality performances,” Harter said. “We probably were lined up a little bit better than Texas, but we’ll take the win.”
Sports, Pages 25 on 01/18/2014