Weather demands Hogs make haste

By: Bob Holt
Published: Saturday, April 14, 2018
Arkansas' 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' Tori Weeks competes Saturday, April 22, 2017, in the pole vault during the John McDonnell Invitational at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas Razorbacks Lexi Jacobus and Tori Hoggard introduced a new track and field event Friday at the John McDonnell Invitational.

Speed vaulting.


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With lightning drawing close to McDonnell Field and thunder being heard in the distance, the twin sisters from Cabot wasted no time between their final pole vault attempts.

Both missed three attempts at 14 feet, 8 inches after clearing 14-0.

Jacobus took first because she cleared 14-0 on her first attempt. Hoggard was second because she cleared 14-0 on her second attempt.

"I took about a minute and a half between my last three vaults," Hoggard said. "It's kind of hard, because you've got to catch your breath and get your mind right, but today the weather just didn't allow it."

Jacobus knew the weather wouldn't allow them to take the normal break between attempts.

"We were both going boom, boom, boom to get it done," Jacobus said. "Before my last attempt, I heard a loud crash of thunder. At that point, I knew I had to rush."

Considering there also was wind and a light rain for Jacobus and Hoggard to deal with before the threat of lightning and thunder became a factor, clearing 14-0 didn't seem bad at all.

But Jacobus is a two-time NCAA champion and a 2016 United States Olympian with a best of 15-5 and Hoggard is a five-time All-American with a best of 15-1 1/2, so they're not satisfied with 14-0.

"Honestly, any time I jump 14 feet, it's not a great day," Hoggard said. "But with the weather you just kind of have to take it and roll with it and use it to get better.

"It'll definitely push me in practice next week, because I don't like the feeling. I don't want to have another meet like this."

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville assistant Bryan Compton, who coaches the field events, said it was a solid effort by the twins.

"They did good, but they know they're a lot better than that," Compton said. "We're in the middle of a heavy training session and we're just trying to get a little bit stronger."

Rylee Robinson, an Arkansas sophomore from Fayetteville who attended Shiloh Christian High School, cleared a personal-best 13-8 1/2, which will qualify her to join Jacobus and Hoggard at the NCAA West Regional.

"Watching Rylee in practice the last month, all of us knew that she was about to put together a big jump," Jacobus said. "I think she can go 14 feet. She just needs to put it all together. I'm really proud of her."

Before the lightning and thunder came, Arkansas' No. 1-ranked women's team and No. 11 men's team got in some fast times in the sprints and solid marks in the field events.

Arkansas took the top three spots in the women's 100 with wind-aided times by Jada Baylark (11.02), Kiara Parker (11.14) and Janeek Brown (11.19).

Baylark, a sophomore from Little Rock Parkview, also won the 200 in a wind-aided 22.91.

Earlier this season, Baylark won the 100 in a legal-wind time of 11.10 to tie Veronica Campbell-Brown's school record.

"That was a breakthrough mentally for Jada in the 200," Arkansas women's Coach Lance Harter said. "I think she's always respected the event maybe a little bit too much. Being as fast of a 100-meter runner as she is, she was ready to run a really good 200.

"Jada has proven her consistency. When the conditions aren't ideal, she's still putting national-caliber marks up there."

Brown won the 100-meter hurdles in a wind-aided 13.01.

Arkansas senior Kenzo Cotton, a 16-time All-American, had the top collegiate time in the men's 200 with a wind-aided 20.67 behind the winning time of 20.24 by former Razorback Marqueze Washington. Razorbacks freshman Kristoffer Hari was third in 20.75.

Washington also won the 100 in a wind-aided 10.03 with Arkansas sophomore Roy Ejakuekwu second in 10.14 and Hari third in 10.24.

"I thought our kids did a great job under the conditions," Arkansas men's Coach Chris Bucknam said. "There were many wind-aided times, but they still ran well and got their reps in.

"You become a better athlete and a better competitor when you do that. You need to put the effort in even when the conditions aren't perfect."

The Razorbacks took 1-2 in the long jump with aided marks by Rubin Owens (25-3 1/2) and Laquan Narin (24-11 3/4). It was the first time they long-jumped this season.

"The wind was actually too strong," said Arkansas assistant Travis Geopfert, who coaches the field events. "I honest to goodness think those guys would have jumped further it it hadn't been so windy. When the wind is blowing so hard, it's tough to be as good technically.

"That's where they struggled a little bit today, but they battled through it and got some good marks in. Going 1-2 is always fun in every meet."

Arkansas sophomore Brendon Rivera took second in the high jump in a personal-best 7-0 1/4.

"Brendon's coming around," Geopfert said. "Cracking that 7-foot barrier is a big deal. He's gotten focused on the process and we're seeing positive results from it."

Arkansas didn't run its 400-meter relay team because Kemar Mowatt -- a five-time All-American who won the SEC title in the 400 hurdles last year and took fourth at the World Championships -- has a sore ankle.

Razorbacks senior Gabe Moore had to drop out of the decathlon because of a foot injury.

"We only have one All-American decathlete. We only have one world-class 400 hurdler," Bucknam said, referring to Moore and Mowatt. "I hope people understand we need these guys healthy at the end of the year and we're not going to take any chances."

Sports on 04/14/2018


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