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.
NCAA West Prelims report:
Boyd sets UA mark in javelin
Arkansas' Amethyst Boyd throws the javelin during the NCAA West Preliminaries on Thursday, May 29, 2014 at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- It was a good birthday for Arkansas senior Amethyst Boyd on Thursday at the NCAA West Preliminaries.
Boyd, who turned 22, celebrated at John McDonnell Field by setting an Arkansas record in the javelin with a throw of 163-3 to take seventh and advance to the NCAA Championships, held June 11-14 in Eugene, Ore.
Boyd, who took seventh at the SEC meet two weeks ago with a 154-7 throw, had her record-setting throw on her first attempt Thursday. Her previous best was 156-5.
"That was a very pleasant surprise," Razorbacks Coach Lance Harter said of Boyd advancing. "She's been throwing well. She threw well at the conference meet. She just needed another 8 or 10 feet, and she got that today.
"She stuck it out there on her first throw and it held up and now she's got her ticket to the national meet. She might get another great throw there and steal some points for us."
Boyd transferred to Arkansas last year from South Plains (Texas) Junior College.
"She's always trained hard and done everything we've asked of her," said Arkansas assistant Bryan Compton, who coaches the field events. "We're awful proud of her."
Kansas sophomore Sydney Conley, who won several state titles at Fayetteville High School in the 100 meters and long and triple jumps, took fifth in Thursday's long jump at 20-6 1/4 to advance to the NCAA meet.
"It's always nice coming home and seeing your family and friends," Conley said. "I just wanted to make sure I made it on to the next round.
"That's all that really mattered to me. I don't care if it was 12th place -- hey, I'm in there."
The top 12 in each event at the NCAA prelims advance.
"I just want to get it done when it counts, and that's at nationals," said Conley, who took fourth in the long jump at this year's NCAA indoor meet with a 20-7 3/4 leap to earn her first All-American honor. "I'm feeling good about nationals."
Conley, who went a personal-best 21-4 earlier this season at the Kansas Relays, said rain that fell during the long jump wasn't a big problem.
"We needed some goggles out there at the beginning, but everybody felt the same," she said. "We got through it."
Former Razorback Mike Conley, Sydney's father who won the 1992 Olympic gold medal in the triple jump, watched her Thursday from the stands.
"She's a competitor," Conley said. "She reminds me a lot of myself."
Arkansas State seniors Sharika Nelvis and Justin Whitfield advanced in the first round of the 100 meters to tonight's quarterfinals.
Nelvis, who won the 60-meter hurdles at this year's NCAA indoor meet and is a 23-time Sun Belt Conference individual champion, ran 11.65 in Thursday's 100. She is running in the 100-meter hurdles at 5:30 tonight, about an hour before the 100 quarterfinals.
Whitfield ran 10.47 to advance.
Arkansas freshman Omar McLeod, who won the 60-meter hurdles at this year's NCAA indoor meet, had a disappointing showing in the 400-meter hurdles, taking fifth in his heat and 27th overall in 51.87.
It was McLeod's third 400-hurdle race this season after he was sidelined by a hamstring injury sustained at the Texas Relays. He fell in his 400-hurdle heat at the SEC meet and didn't advance.
"He needed that race and the SEC final as preparation for this," Arkansas assistant Doug Case said. "When you miss that much work, it's hard to be at your peak right now and really do it."
Case said he's confident McLeod will come back strong in the 110 hurdles tonight.
"He should be fine, because that's not as condition-oriented as that 400," Case said. "That's a monster."
McLeod also will run on Arkansas' 400 and 1,600 relays.
Sports on 05/30/2014