Women missing 2 key outdoors cogs

By: Bob Holt
Published: Friday, March 23, 2018
Arkansas' Payton Stumbaugh (center) leads Valerie Thames of Missouri (left) and Alex Gochenour Saturday, April 22, 2017, in the 100-meter hurdles during the John McDonnell Invitational at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas' Payton Stumbaugh (center) leads Valerie Thames of Missouri (left) and Alex Gochenour Saturday, April 22, 2017, in the 100-meter hurdles during the John McDonnell Invitational at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The Arkansas Razorbacks' women's track and field team is going into the outdoor season ranked No. 1 nationally, but without two of its top performers with Payton Chadwick and Desiree Freier both redshirting.

Chadwick, who won the 60-meter hurdles at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, is redshirting to recover from a foot injury and also so she will be able to compete in both the indoor and outdoor seasons next year as a senior, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville women's Coach Lance Harter said.

Chadwick, a former Springdale Har-Ber standout, redshirted the 2017 indoor season because of a leg injury, then competed outdoors. She has earned five All-American honors at Arkansas since transferring from Oklahoma after her freshman year and has one season of eligibility remaining in both indoors and outdoors.

The SEC already has announced the 2019 SEC Outdoor Championships conference outdoor meet will be at Arkansas. Harter said the indoor meet also likely will be in Fayetteville with a new conference rule that to host the meet a facility must have a 200-meter banked track.

Only Arkansas and Texas A&M have those tracks, and the Aggies hosted the SEC indoor meet this year.

"The site of the indoor meet hasn't been officially announced," Harter said. "But right now it looks like we're hosting indoors as well as outdoors.

"It's very difficult to sit out somebody of Payton's stature because she can do so many events with the hurdles, the long jump and the relays. But this way she can compete at home in both the conference indoor and outdoor meets her senior year."

Freier, a junior who took fifth in the pole vault at this year's NCAA Indoor Championships, won't compete outdoors for personal reasons, Harter said.

"She just needs some time off," he said.

Freier redshirted indoors and outdoors last year because of a broken ankle, but Harter said Arkansas can apply for a sixth year of eligibility for her in 2020.

The Razorbacks still look to have a strong team outdoors without Chadwick and Freier competing.

Junior pole vaulters Lexi Jacobus and Tori Hoggard -- twin sisters from Cabot -- were 1-2 in the pole vault at the NCAA Indoors and senior Taliyah Brooks won the pentathlon. She'll compete in the heptathlon outdoors.

Arkansas also is strong in events that are held outdoors with the 10,000 meters, 3,000-meter steeplechase and 400-meter hurdles.

"It's always nice when people think highly of your program," Harter said of the No. 1 ranking announced in this week's coaches' poll. "I think part of that is the legacy we've established and a lot of respect for our athletes that obviously did a really good job last year and that are returning.

"I'm also enough of a realistic to know it will correct itself as the season goes on."

Arkansas' men's team, which is ranked No. 11 nationally, also will redshirt some key athletes outdoors because of injuries including All-American distance runner Alex George (leg stress fracture), All-American sprinter Rhayko Schwartz (ruptured Achilles tendon) and high jumper Jah-Nhai Perinchief (hamstring).

"We're still cautiously optimistic that we're going to be a really good team and we can a run at an SEC outdoor championship and contend for a national title," Razorbacks men's Coach Chris Bucknam said. "But that's several weeks away and a lot can happen between now and then."

The Razorbacks will host the Arkansas Spring Invitational today and Saturday at John McDonnell Field. Among the teams joining the Razorbacks are Arkansas Baptist, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma State.

Harter and Bucknam both said athletes who competed at the NCAA indoor meet will be held out this weekend and open the outdoor season next week when the Razorbacks compete at the Texas Relays and Stanford Invitational.

Sports on 03/23/2018

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