NCAA OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS:

Record breakers shut out UA men

By: Bob Clark Special to the Democrat-Gazette
Published: Saturday, June 9, 2018
Southern California's Rai Benjamin wins the men's 400 hurdles in 47.02 seconds on the third day of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship at Hayward Field on Friday, June 8, 2018, in Eugene, Ore. (Andy Nelson/The Register-Guard via AP)
Southern California's Rai Benjamin wins the men's 400 hurdles in 47.02 seconds on the third day of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship at Hayward Field on Friday, June 8, 2018, in Eugene, Ore. (Andy Nelson/The Register-Guard via AP)

EUGENE, Ore. -- Records were falling fast and furious Friday at the NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field, often in races where Arkansas entrants found themselves left behind.

Kemar Mowatt in the 400-meter hurdles, Obi Igbokwe in the 400, and the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville's 400 and 1,600 relays couldn't keep up with winners who set collegiate records.

Mowatt was the top individual finisher for the Razorbacks as the men's portion of the meet concluded, taking fourth in the 400 hurdles in a season-best time of 48.83 as Rai Benjamin of USC won in a collegiate and field record of 47.02.

"It's not bad, but my standards for myself are pretty high," said Mowatt, third in this meet in 2017 and fourth in the World Championships last summer. "I was hoping to get top two.

"I kind of died coming off the [last] curve. I was just not able to finish the way I wanted to."

Also scoring for the Razorbacks were Igbokwe with a sixth-place finish in the 400, Kenzo Cotton with a seventh-place finish in the 200 and Cameron Griffith with an eighth-place finish in the 1,500.

Arkansas added a fourth-place finish in the 400 relay in 39.01, where Houston won in a collegiate record time of 38.17, and the Razorbacks were sixth in the 1,600 relay in 3:04.53 while USC set a collegiate record of 2:59.00.

Cotton ran on both relays, making him a 19-time All-American during his University of Arkansas, Fayetteville career.

Arkansas finished 12th in the men's team standings with 19 points. Georgia won the team title with 52 points, 10 more than runner-up Florida as six SEC teams finished in the top 10.

Igbokwe's time of 45.16 came in a 400 in which USC's Michael Norman also set the collegiate and field records, winning in 43.61.

"I underperformed big time," Igbokwe said. "I didn't perform as well as I'd hoped or expected to."

The Arkansas junior ran 44.94 in Wednesday's semifinals, and said "it was a real smooth race, I ran like I should have. I could have run much faster that day."

In the final, Igbokwe said: "I came out way too slow. Catching up to the guy [in the lane outside of me] so quickly threw me off. I thought I went out too fast and I relaxed.

"By the time I realized [Norman] was way out in front, it was way too late."

It was a mad dash to the finish for Griffith to score in the 1,500. The Arkansas junior had to fight his way to the outside coming off the final turn and was clocked at 3:45.747 with Justine Kiprotich of Michigan State awarded seventh in 3:45.744 and Oregon's Sam Prakel sixth in 3:45.73. The winner was Wisconsin's Oliver Hoare in 3:44.77, meaning the eight scorers were within one second of each other.

"I knew it was going to be a tough race going into it. The depth of the field was pretty unreal," Griffith said. "A field that deep, you know it's going to be quick at the end. I'm just glad I got a point for the team."

All 12 runners ran in a tight pack almost the entire race, leading to some contact that involved Griffith, who fell back to last place with about 600 meters left.

"I had to step onto the infield to avoid getting tripped up," he said of losing ground to the leaders. "That's going to happen when it's tactical like that. I'm glad I could stay on my feet."

Sports on 06/09/2018

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