RAZORBACKS NCAA OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS REPORT:

Baylark happy with sole mark

By: Bob Holt
Published: Wednesday, June 6, 2018
Jada Baylark (left) and Kiara Parker of Arkansas run in the women's 100-meter dash Friday, April 27, 2018, during the National Relay Championships at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Jada Baylark (left) and Kiara Parker of Arkansas run in the women's 100-meter dash Friday, April 27, 2018, during the National Relay Championships at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Jada Baylark said it feels good to have the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville's women's record in the 100 meters to herself.

Baylark, a sophomore from Little Rock Parkview, opened the outdoor season March 24 by running 11.10 seconds at the Arkansas Spring Invitational to tie the school record set by Veronica Campbell-Brown -- a three-time Olympic gold medalist -- in 2004.

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Baylark had run some good races since then, but nothing approaching the UA record.

Then on May 26, Baylark ran 11.04 at the NCAA West Prelims in Sacramento, Calif., to break her tie with Campbell-Brown and stand alone atop Arkansas' list for the 100.

"I had a feeling I ran fast, but I didn't really know until I looked at the scoreboard," Baylark said. "I was definitely happy, because it had been March since I'd run 11.10. It's kind of been a rough season since then.

"Not necessarily rough. I just haven't been running as fast as I wanted to run. It feels good to finally run fast again."

Baylark will run the 100 semifinals at the NCAA Track and Field Championships on Thursday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. She'll also run on the Razorbacks' 400 relay team. The finals in both events are set for Saturday.

After pulling up in the 200 at the West Prelims because of a leg cramp, Baylark said she's feeling 100 percent healthy.

"I feel like I have more confidence in myself going into the national meet," she said. "I've put myself in position to be one of the best."

Brooks out

Arkansas senior Taliyah Brooks, who finished third in the heptathlon at the NCAA championships last year, won't compete in the event this week because of a heel injury she suffered earlier this season.

Razorbacks women's Coach Lance Harter confirmed Brooks will complete only in the 400 relay.

Tough ending

Razorbacks senior Jack Bruce finished second in the 5,000 meters at the NCAA championships last year, but he won't be in the race this week.

Bruce had the third-latest time (13.28.56) this season going into the West Prelims, but he ran 14:19.02 and finished 34th.

"It just wasn't Jack's day," Arkansas men's Coach Chris Bucknam said. "I have explanation for it. He just had a bad race.

"The guy's devastated because he was one of the favorites going into the race. He was up in the front and cruising along. The last lap-and-a-half when things happen he's usually right there, but he said there was nothing in his legs.

"I just feel so bad for Jack, but we're not going to let one race define his career. He was an All-American for us and carried our distance program the last couple years with some great efforts and high NCAA and conference finishes."

Looking for more

Arkansas senior sprinter Kenzo Cotton is a 16-time All-American. He hopes to add to that total this week.

"I'd be pretty happy to have as many as I possibly can to cap off my career," he said.

Cotton will compete in at least three events -- the 100, 200 and 400 relay.

"It's definitely not fun, especially at Eugene you have to run fast every race," Cotton said of having so many races. "You can't just chill and try to get through the rounds like you might at another meet. You almost have to [run a personal best] just to make it to the finals."

It's possible Cotton also could run on the 1,600 relay.

"You just have to deal with it," he said. "It's the team over my personal ego."

Doubling up

Arkansas juniors Lexi Jacobus and Tori Hoggard -- twin sisters from Cabot -- hope to do the same thing Thursday as they did at the NCAA Indoor Championships when they went 1-2 in the pole vault.

Hoggard said while she always roots for her sister to do well, she wouldn't mind if their order is reversed from the NCAA Indoors.

"I think I'd prefer that, yeah," Hoggard said with a laugh. "I think we're happy either way if we go 1-2, but it would be nice to edge her out this time.

"She's won three times, so now it's my turn now."

Jacobus has won three NCAA titles -- indoors in 2016 and this year, and outdoors in 2016 -- and is a five-time All-American. Hoggard is a four-time All-American.

Laying in the weeds

Arkansas' men's team is ranked No. 13 nationally, but Coach Chris Bucknam said the Razorbacks can make some noise led by Kemar Mowatt in the 400 hurdles, and 400 and 1,600 relays; Kenzo Cotton in the 100, 200 and 400 relay; Cameron Griffith in the 1,500; the 400 relay team; and Gabe Moore in the decathlon.

Arkansas has qualified eight individuals and two relays in nine events.

"We're kind of laying in the weeds, but we've got a good contingent of athletes covering a wide variety of events," Bucknam said. "That's the name of the game -- having opportunities. We've got some pretty good athletes.

"We try to compete for national championships. That's what our focus is on beginning in the fall. Everything we do in September is focused on this week in June."

Florida is the No. 1-ranked men's team. Texas Tech, Georgia, Alabama and Texas A&M round out the top five.

Women's rankings

Arkansas' women's team is ranked No. 9. Georgia is ranked No. 1. The top five also includes USC, Oregon, Kentucky and Florida.

"Indoors we were picked somewhere between sixth and ninth and we ended up second," Razorbacks Coach Lance Harter said of his team's runner-up finish to Georgia. "If we can grab a trophy [by finishing in the top four], that would be truly remarkable."

Sports on 06/06/2018

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