No. 1 UA women look to get on run

By: Bob Holt
Published: Friday, February 22, 2019
Arkansas' Payton Chadwick competes Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, in the 200 meters during the Tyson Invitational in the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas' Payton Chadwick competes Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, in the 200 meters during the Tyson Invitational in the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- It was a strange feeling for Tori Hoggard and her teammates on the University of Arkansas women's track and field squad when the Razorbacks failed to win the SEC outdoor championship last spring.

"I'd been on teams that won five SEC track and field titles in a row," said Hoggard, a senior All-American pole vaulter from Cabot. "We were like, 'What is this? What is losing?'

At a glance

SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships

WHEN Today and Saturday. Events 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m.- 6 p.m. Saturday.

WHERE Randal Tyson Center, Fayetteville

DEFENDING CHAMPIONS Men (Alabama); Women (Arkansas)

TICKETS Reserved $35 for 2 days and $20 for 1 day. General admission $25 for 2 days and $15 for 1 day. Students and youth 17-and-under $15 for 2 days and $10 for 1 day.

TELEVISION 7 p.m. Sunday tape-delayed on SEC Network

LIVE STEAMING SEC Network-plus 3:30 p.m. today and 2:50 p.m. Saturday.

"We didn't know what that felt like."

When the Razorbacks finished tied for sixth outdoors in 2018 -- with a depleted team missing several key members who were injured or redshirting -- it ended Arkansas' streak of 12 consecutive SEC championships in cross country and indoor and outdoor track that started with the outdoor title in 2014.

"We knew we were missing a lot of our top athletes," Hoggard said. "But it still was disappointing not to win."

Arkansas looks ready to get on another SEC championship streak. They've already won their sixth consecutive SEC cross country title in the fall and they're ranked No. 1 nationally in track and field and favored to win the SEC indoor meet, which will be held today and Saturday at Arkansas' Randal Tyson Center.

"There's no doubt the target's on our back and it's pretty large," Arkansas Coach Lance Harter said. "So we'll see if we can hold people off."

The Razorbacks will be led by Hoggard and senior Lexi Jacobus, her twin sister. The two have combined to win five SEC vault titles -- four by Jacobus and one by Hoggard -- and scored 102 points in six SEC meets.

"They've been there, they've done that, they know how to succeed," Harder said. "They always can be counted on, and that becomes very infectious with the rest of the crew.

"With the twins, the sad part is that at the end of this year, they're going to be gone. But they've just done a fantastic job ever since they arrived."

Other key athletes for the Razorbacks include sprinters Payton Chadwick, Kiara Parker, Janeek Brown and Jada Baylark; distance runners Taylor Werner, Lauren Gregory, Devin Clark and Carina Viljoen; Kelsey Herman in the pentathlon; and Desiree Freier in the pole vault.

"We have the leadership this year, we have the experience, and we have the talent," Harter said. "That's a pretty lethal combination."

Arkansas is one of five SEC teams ranked in the top 15 along with No. 4 LSU, No. 6 Kentucky, No. 7 Florida and No. 14 Alabama.

"Obviously, you can't go into the meet just expecting to win," Hoggard said. "You have to go in and compete and do your job. I think we're all prepared to do that."

Harter said the coaching staff is trying to make sure the Razorbacks don't put too much pressure on themselves as the No. 1 team competing at home.

"Our approach is, let's just go out there and have fun and do what you're capable of," Harter said. "And if you do that, cumulatively the results will speak for themselves."

Arkansas is hosting the SEC indoor meet for the first time since 2016.

"We're super excited about that," Hoggard said. "It's always fun to compete in front of your home crowd, and especially at a meet of this caliber.

"There will be a lot of people there to support us, and it's going to be nice to put on a show for all of them."

Sports on 02/22/2019

Discussion

Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.