Women pile up points, lead by 45½

By: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Published: Saturday, May 13, 2017
Arkansas sophomore Tori Weeks competes Saturday, April 22, 2017, in the pole vault during the John McDonnell Invitational at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas sophomore Tori Weeks competes Saturday, April 22, 2017, in the pole vault during the John McDonnell Invitational at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville.

The Arkansas Razorbacks scored more points in the heptathlon Friday at the SEC Outdoor Championships in Columbia, S.C., than second-place Ole Miss has through the meet’s first two days.

Razorbacks took the top four spots in the heptathlon, good for 29 points, as junior Taliyah Brooks won with a school-record 6,099 points followed by junior Payton Stumbaugh (6,023), senior Leigha Brown (5,852) and sophomore Kelsey Herman (5,820).

The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville leads with 73 points going into today’s final events. Ole Miss has 27.5 points.

“I’m excited we scored so many points for the team,” Brooks said. “I thought we had a real good overall group effort.

“It’s actually really cool, because we’re all good at different events. So if someone is down in some event, then we all do our best to pick each other up.”

Arkansas also dominated in the pole vault with twin sisters Lexi and Tori Weeks — sophomores from Cabot — both clearing 14 feet, 7¼ inches to take first and second and sophomore Desiree Freier clearing 14-4 for third as the three combined for 24 points.

It was the second consecutive SEC outdoor title for Lexi Weeks, who also won at the NCAA outdoor meet last year and competed in the Olympics for the United States.

Lexi Weeks won because she cleared 14-4 on her first attempt while Tori Weeks — who won the SEC indoor title this year with her sister taking second — cleared that height on her third attempt.

Both Weeks sisters missed three attempts at 15-1 ½.

“I don’t care which one of them wins as long as they’re 1-2,” Arkansas Coach Lance Harter said. “They were both great.”

Brooks won the heptathlon long jump (21 feet) and high jump (5-10¾) and was second in the 200 meters (23.88 seconds) and 100 hurdles (13.14) while setting personal-bests in all four events.

“My time in the hurdles was probably the highlight,” she said. “I haven’t been doing very well in the hurdles the past two years. I’ve been falling a lot, so I was really excited I ran a good time and made it through the race.”

Stumbaugh had the top marks in the 200 (23.22), 100 hurdles (13.00) and 800 (2:15.91). Brown had the top mark in the shot-put (43-8).

Harter said he expected big points in the heptathlon, but not to take the top four spots.

“That’s never been done before in the SEC. I think it might not ever be repeated,” Harter said. “To have two kids over 6,000 on the same team is rarified air. Then having two right behind them is incredible.

“There’s a lot of good competition out there, but our kids posted such high marks that it made for a supreme challenge for the opposition to try to chase them.”

Brooks, the Razorbacks’ sixth SEC heptathlon champion, broke her previous school record of 6,075 points set at this year’s Texas Relays.

“I wasn’t really thinking about the record, but I guess it comes along with it,” Brooks said. “So I’m happy with that. I’m looking forward to making it even bigger at nationals and USAs.”

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