NCAA INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS:

Vaulters, team out of top 4

By: Richard Croome Special to the Democrat-Gazette
Published: Sunday, March 12, 2017
Lexi Weeks (left) and Tori Weeks of Arkansas speak Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, during the pole vault competition in the Razorback Invitational in the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Lexi Weeks (left) and Tori Weeks of Arkansas speak Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, during the pole vault competition in the Razorback Invitational in the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The Oregon women were on pace to break the points record at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, so there was little chance the Arkansas Razorbacks were going to push the defending champions on the final day.

Little chance became no chance at the Gilliam Indoor Stadium on Saturday when Arkansas' trio of sophomore pole vaulters had to sit down and watch while four others battled for medals.

Defending champion Lexi Weeks was the first out at 13 feet, 9¼ inches and tied for seventh. Desiree Freier was sixth with a clearance of 14-1¼, which was what SEC champion Tori Weeks cleared to place fifth.

"They were disappointed, and there were a lot of tears," Arkansas women's track and field Coach Lance Harter said. "That's the nature of that event: It's a matrix to try to figure itself out as far as poles and speed and everything else, and when things go wrong ...

"People from the outside looking in are going, 'What happened to our vaulters.' They didn't have a perfect day by any means, an off day, and we'll correct those things. Fourteen [feet] is a regular for them, and unfortunately it happened ... at the indoor nationals."

The three scored 8½ points in an event the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville had hoped to record more than 20 points.

Two vaulters -- winner Laken Taylor of Alabama at 14-7¼ and Kentucky's Olivia Gruver -- were beaten by the Weeks twins two weeks earlier at the SEC meet.

Arkansas settled for fifth overall with 32.5 points, 51.5 behind Oregon, which defended its title and won for the seventh time in eight years. Oregon's 84 points shattered Texas' record of 71 points at a national women's indoor meet.

"You always like to go home with hardware, but we got fifth in the nation, and there are a lot of programs that that would be a career high," Harter said.

Georgia, which led after the first day with 41 points, was second, collecting all 51 of its points in field events. Alabama and mile relay winners USC passed the Hogs in the final event for third and fourth with 37 and 35 points, respectively.

Arkansas has finished in the top four in four of the past seven seasons.

The day started well for the Razorbacks with senior Therese Haiss and junior Nikki Hiltz both running personal bests in the mile to place fifth and sixth with times of 4:34.54 and 4:34.57, respectively.

"I could see the Hog on her back and said don't let it get too far away," Hiltz said of Haiss.

The two picked up seven points in a race neither was predicted to score.

"That was not predicted on the from chart, and they rose to the challenge and did a fantastic job," Harter said.

Sports on 03/12/2017

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