Twins cap UA's title with duel

By: Bob Holt
Published: Sunday, February 24, 2019
Arkansas' Lexi Jacobus (right) and her twin sister Tori Hoggard hug Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, as they compete in the pole vault during the Southeastern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championship at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas' Lexi Jacobus (right) and her twin sister Tori Hoggard hug Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, as they compete in the pole vault during the Southeastern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championship at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas women's track and field team won the title at the SEC Indoor Championships going away with 151 points -- 81 more than runner-up Texas A&M -- but there was still some drama involving the No. 1-ranked Razorbacks on Saturday at the Randal Tyson Track Center.

Which Arkansas twin sister would win the pole vault?

Lexi Jacobus outlasted her sister -- Tori Hoggard -- and won by clearing an SEC meet record 15 feet, 4¼ inches.

Jacobus then missed three attempts at 15-7¼, which would have set an NCAA record.

"Getting the SEC record was on my mind," Jacobus said. "The collegiate record is still in my mind. I was really hoping I'd get it done today, but I'll get another chance [at the NCAA meet] in two weeks."

Both sisters, who are seniors from Cabot, cleared 15-1 Saturday on their final attempts -- first Hoggard, then Jacobus.

After Jacobus stayed alive by clearing 14-10 and 15-1, she cleared 15-4¼ on her first attempt to break the meet record of 15-4 set by Kentucky's Olivia Gruver last year.

Hoggard, who cleared her first five heights on first attempts, then missed three times at 15-4¼.

"Tori was killing it," Jacobus said. "She looked awesome. I owe it to her getting over that 15-1, because when she cleared it, that got my energy back up."

Hoggard would have won the SEC title if her sister had missed her final attempt at 15-1, but she celebrated by clapping for her.

"When I cleared it, Lexi knew she had to go out there and do the same," Hoggard said. "I think that's how we compete. It just works for us that way."

The twins pushing -- but also cheering for -- each other is a common sight for Arkansas assistant Bryan Compton, who coaches the field events.

"I see it every day in practice whether they're jumping, sprinting or lifting weights," Compton said. "They're always going at each other. They've done that all their lives.

"But they always want the best for each other, too."

Jacobus was one of four individual champions for Arkansas on Saturday, along with senior Payton Chadwick in the 60-meter hurdles (8.02), junior Taylor Werner in the 3,000 (9:15.57) and freshman Lauren Gregory in the mile (4:39.50).

The Razorbacks scored the most points at an SEC indoor meet since the conference expanded to 14 teams in 2013. It was the second-highest total ever behind the 187½ Tennessee scored in 1987 when there were eight women's teams.

Arkansas scored more points than second-place Texas A&M (70) and third-place Alabama (67) combined.

"We did an amazing job," said Chadwick, who is from Springdale Has-Ber and also took second in the 200 and ran on the Razorbacks' fourth-place 1,600 relay. "We blew out our competitors.

"I'm trying to say that in a nice way, but we blew them out."

Arkansas won its fifth consecutive SEC indoor title and ninth overall. It also was the 35th SEC championship under Razorbacks Coach Lance Harter in cross country, and indoor and outdoor track since the 1991-92 school year.

"I think what makes it even more special is that we probably exceeded our own expectations," Harter said. "It wasn't just in one group, it was all the way across the board."

Arkansas began Saturday's events by scoring 24 points in the mile with Razorback Carina Viljoen in second and Maddy Reed in third behind Gregory. The mile shot Arkansas to the team lead for the rest of the meet.

"Our milers really made a statement and got everybody else fired up," Harter said. "I think that once we got going, that snowball just kept rolling."

Werner, who had to cut her indoor season short last year and missed the outdoor season because of a back injury, scored 20 points along with a victory in the 5,000 on Friday night. She shared the meet's high-point award with Florida senior Yanis Davis, who won the long and triple jumps.

"It was definitely a hard year," Werner said. "To come back and feel great is truly a blessing."

The Razorbacks also got strong performances from sophomore Janeek Brown (second in the 60 hurdles and fifth in the 60) and senior Kiara Parker (fourth in the 60 and seventh in the 200).

"We knew that we had a special team coming into this meet," Jacobus said. "Everyone went out and did what they know how to do to help us pull in a lot of points."

Jacobus won her fifth SEC pole vault title. Hoggard has won a title as well. The twins have scored a combined 120 points in seven SEC meets with this year's outdoors still to come.

"Tori and I are competitive, but we also want each other to do so well," Jacobus said. "It's a twin thing."

Sports on 02/24/2019


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