Surprise win puts UA in 1st

By: Bob Holt
Published: Sunday, May 13, 2018
Arkansas' Kyle Hosting runs the first leg of the 4x800 meter relay during the National Relay Championships on Saturday, April 28, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas' Kyle Hosting runs the first leg of the 4x800 meter relay during the National Relay Championships on Saturday, April 28, 2018, in Fayetteville.

Kyle Hosting just completed a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, but he didn't go through graduation ceremonies Saturday because he was competing for the Razorbacks at the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

"Kyle had to miss his graduation, but I'd say it worked out fine," Arkansas Coach Chris Bucknam said. "He gave himself a nice graduation present."

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Hosting, a senior from Decorah, Iowa, engineered an upset in the 3,000 steeplechase, winning the race at Tennessee's Tom Black Track in Knoxville, Tenn., in 8:55.56.

"Kyle's a guy that's been hurt a lot -- he redshirted last year because he was injured -- and he's kind of been in the shadows," Bucknam said. "Now he's the SEC champ. I'm thrilled for him."

Hosting's victory put Arkansas in the lead of the team race through seven of 21 finals with 39 points. Texas A&M is second with 35 points followed by Florida (34), Alabama (33) and Georgia (30).

"We're right where we need to be and so is Florida and so is Alabama," Bucknam said. "So it's just going to be who steps up the best [Sunday]. We've got to have a great finish."

Hosting -- who finished seventh in the mile at the SEC indoor meet earlier this year -- ran just his second steeplechase Saturday. His first was at the Mount San Antonio College Relays in Walnut, Calif., on April 19 when he ran 8:53.73.

"We put him in the steeplechase and he caught on pretty quick," Bucknam said. "After he ran pretty well out in California, we said, 'OK, we think we found you a good event.' "

Hosting ran a strong tactical race to win the SEC title, Bucknam said, and broke to the lead with about 600 meters to go.

"Kyle ran very smart and just put the hammer down at the end and won by a pretty good margin," Bucknam said. "We thought he could get in the top five -- maybe even the top three -- but to win? That was a very nice surprise."

Junior Kyle Levermore also scored for the Razorbacks in the steeple chase, taking sixth in 9:05.31.

Arkansas junior Gabe Moore was in first place in the decathlon by 97 points going into the last event, but he couldn't hold off Georgia senior Kari Saluri.

Saluri ran the 1,500 meters in 4:30.35 to win with the decathlon with 7,934 points, edging Moore by 33.

Moore finished with 7,901 points after running the 1,500 in 4:51.18. Arkansas senior Derek Jacobus finished fourth with 7,555 points, giving Arkansas 13 in the decathlon.

In the decathlon's other events Saturday, Moore ran the 110 hurdles in 14.69, threw the discus 158-4 and the javelin 189-2, and cleared 14-9 in the pole vault.

Jacobus ran the hurdles in 15.76, threw the discus 122-10 and the javelin 180-5, cleared 15-1 in the pole vault, and ran 4:29.13 in the 1,500.

Arkansas junior Cameron Griffith ran the top time in the 1,500 preliminaries at 3:47.03 to advance to the final. Razorbacks senior Jack Bruce was among several runners to fall in his heat of the 1,500, but Bucknam said judges decide to advance all of them to the final.

"There's supposed to be 10 guys in the 1,500 final and now there's going to be 20," Bucknam said. "It's going to be a very crowded race and anything can happen. It's going to be like the Kentucky Derby."

Also advancing for the Razorbacks were senior Kenzo Cotton (10.17) in the 100, junior Obi Igbokwe (46.00) in the 400, and senior Larry Donald (13.93) in the 110 hurdles.

The Razorbacks women's team got on the scoreboard with 11 points in the 3,000 steeplechase, placing Arkansas 10th in the team race through six of 21 finals.

Ole Miss leads with 50 points and is followed by Texas A&M (42), Florida (37) and Tennessee (25).

Arkansas sophomore Devin Clark took fourth in the steeplechase in 10:08.88. Sophomore Rachel Nichwitz was fifth (10:23.00), and senior Regan Hime seventh (10:31.67).

The Razorbacks, who have won 12 consecutive SEC titles in cross country and indoor and outdoor track, don't realistically have a shot to make it 13 in row, Coach Lance Harter said. Arkansas has several key athletes who are redshirting.

"I think right now it's probably a battle between LSU and Texas A&M for the team title," Harter said. "We're probably striving to stay in the top five.

"If we can do that with this crew, then we've done just fine. We know we're not at full strength, but we'll take advantage of the opportunities that we have."

Arkansas senior Nikki Hiltz, the defending champion in the 1,500, has been recovering from a knee injury and competed for the first time this outdoor season Saturday. She ran 4:21.50 to advance to the final.

"Nikki was spectacular," Harter said. "She just started running on the ground on Monday, and it wasn't very far. The race today, that's the farthest she's run this outdoor season. That was a very pleasant surprise to watch her do that well."

Sophomore Carina Viljoen (4:24.88) also advanced for the Razorbacks in the 1,500.

Jada Baylark, a Razorbacks sophomore from Little Rock Parkview, ran 11.23 in the 100 and didn't make the final. Arkansas junior Kiara Parker ran 11.22 to advance.

Freshman Janeek Brown (12.99) and senior Taliyah Brooks (13.08) advanced for Arkansas in the 100 hurdles, and freshman Morgan Burks Magee (52.99) advanced in the 400.

Sports on 05/13/2018

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