Parker sets meet record as Arkansas women prevail

By: Henry Apple
Published: Saturday, January 26, 2019
Arkansas' Kiara Parker smiles Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, as she sees her time in the finals of the 60 meters during the Razorback Invitational in the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas' Kiara Parker smiles Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, as she sees her time in the finals of the 60 meters during the Razorback Invitational in the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Kiara Parker even surprised herself a little bit with her record-breaking performance Saturday afternoon.

The Arkansas senior turned in a time of 7.15 seconds to win the women’s 60 meters and break the meet record in that event during the Razorback Invitational in the Randal Tyson Track Center. Parker’s time eclipsed the previous mark of 7.17 set by Florida’s Shayla Sanders in 2016.

Parker’s record run came after she turned in the fastest time — 7.18 — during the preliminary heats. A pair of LSU runners, Sha’Carri Richardson and Kortnei Johnson, finished two-three at 7.20 and 7.22, respectively, while Arkansas’ Jady Baylark was fourth at 7.27.

“Everything went better than expected,” Parker said. “I wasn’t expecting to run 7.1 today, even though I knew it was coming. It was more I thought I would run 7.2 just to figure it out because that’s what I ran in the last meet. I guess it just happened.

“When I looked up at the scoreboard, I wanted to just shed tears. This has been my goal since my freshman year, and in the second meet of my senior year, I’m hitting it.”

Parker’s day wasn’t over at that point. She teamed with Payton Stumbaugh Chadwick, Baylark and Morgan Burks Magee to help Arkansas win the invitational portion of the 1600-meter relay with a time of 3:31.26, beating second-place Kentucky by almost a second.

Those performances led to a big day for the Razorbacks, who took the team title with 145.5 points. Oregon was a distant second with 101, followed by Kentucky with 86, LSU with 71 and Kansas State with 67.

“It was a big meet, and it was across the board,” Arkansas women’s coach Lance Harter said. “Our sprints, (assistant coach) Chris Johnson put on a clinic with the 60, the 60 hurdles and 200 (Friday) night. That was fantastic, and the vault always takes care of business.

“We come back with the pentathlon and welcome back Kelsey Herman, who had been off a year, and she opens up with a national qualifier. Our distance runners, we open with Taylor Werner in the 3,000 and our 2-milers ran crazy fast. Our hurdlers being one-two in the world - that’s rarefied air.”

Chadwick, a former Springdale Har-Ber standout, won the 60 hurdles in 8.01 seconds after she turned in an 8.02 during the earlier preliminary heat. That slight improvement was enough as teammate Janeek Brown finished at 8.02 and gave Arkansas a one-two finish.

Werner, meanwhile, blew away her competition in the invitational 3,000 meters as her time of 9:08.46 was almost 17 seconds better than the next runner. Herman then had the best performances in four of the five events in the pentathlon and finished with 4,189 points while Florida’s Amanda Froeynes was second at 4,066.

“Across the board, I think we had a lot of breakthroughs,” Harter said. “When I talk to the team, I will have to put things in perspective. I’ll have to tell them, ‘Ladies, we’re now the best in the SEC, but now we’re the best in the NCAA. Oh yeah, now we’re the best for the world.”

On the men’s side, Arkansas turned in a third-place performance with 74 points. Oregon had to hold off a late Florida charge to win the team title with 116 points while the Gators had 115.

The Razorbacks were led by the one-three finish in the heptathlon by Gabe Moore and Derek Jacobus. Moore maintained his lead by winning the 60 hurdles and defeated Kansas State’s Aaron Booth by a 5,865-5,819 margin, while Jacobus was third at 5,656. Preston Cates, meanwhile, picked up a win in the 3,000 with his time of 8:24.20.

“We had a good meet, off and on, with some events,” Arkansas men's coach Chris Bucknam said. “I think the kids that were out there had some good performances, but what you see is what you’re going to get.

“We’re not happy with third place, and hopefully we can continue to improve and close the gap on Oregon and Florida. We’ve still got some work to do.”

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