SEC OUTDOOR TRACK AND FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS:

Hamstring hobbles Moore's strong run

By: Scottie Bordelon
Published: Saturday, May 11, 2019
Arkansas decathlete Gabe Moore competes during the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Thursday, May 9, 2019, at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas decathlete Gabe Moore competes during the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Thursday, May 9, 2019, at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Gabe Moore isn't sure why certain things happen, but he is a firm believer in things happening for a reason.

The University of Arkansas senior, one of the favorites in the decathlon at the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships going into the weekend, did not score in two events after suddenly straining his right hamstring Friday afternoon at John McDonnell Field.

After recording a personal best in the discus (161-10), Moore held a 221-point lead over second-place Karel Tilga of Georgia with only three events remaining -- the pole vault, javelin and 1,500-meter run. Then, in his first run at the pole vault, Moore said he felt his hamstring grab at him.

"I took a pretty commanding lead, and probably would have won the meet by about 200 points in front of the home crowd as a senior," said Moore, who still finished fifth in the decathlon with 6,345 points. "This was the last one, so, pretty disappointing. It's a strange thing, injuries. You just never know when they're going to happen.

"It's part of the game, part of the sport, and I've just got to get it stronger and be ready in a month to go."

It appeared as if Moore's day was finished after pulling up short at the pole vault, but he was able to participate in the javelin. His throw of 153-5 was good for sixth place and earned him 541 points.

His fifth-place finish in the decathlon scored four points for Arkansas. Razorbacks freshman Daniel Spejcher finished seventh with a score of 5,960, contributing two points to the Razorbacks' team total.

"It's just kind of a crappy situation, but God has a plan for everything, though," Moore said. "I was trying to get some points for the team and I was glad I was able to do that."

Following Moore's injury, several athletes and coaches from multiple schools approached him to offer words of encouragement. Moore said he appreciated all of the support.

Travis Geopfert, a former Arkansas assistant now at Tennessee who recruited the Freeport, Fla., native to Fayetteville from South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, and Moore shared an emotional embrace as Moore left the track Friday.

"There's a lot of respect in the decathlon between the athletes and coaches, too," he said. "Everybody that you see, there's a lot of good people in the sport at these universities. People telling me to get healthy and 'See you at nationals.' People told me they wanted to see me win.

"That's always nice, you know, having people in your corner."

Moore, who this weekend was aiming to become the second Razorback to win the SEC decathlon title (Kevin Lazas, 2012), said the injury resulted in "some serious bruising," but could have been worse. The plan now is to rehab and prepare for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Austin, Texas, which are set for June 5-8.

"We've got four and a half weeks to kind of get him healthy again," Arkansas Coach Chris Bucknam said. "He's a gutty performer and a gutty kid. I'm heartbroken for him because that SEC title slipped out of his hands."

Moore added, "I want to be ready to go [for nationals]. This is my last go-around."

Arkansas sprinters Shakiel Chattoo and junior Carl Elliott advanced to today's 110-meter hurdle final by running identical times of 13.79. Sophomore Hunter Woodhall advanced in the 400 (46.56), and Cameron Griffith (3:49.40) and Ethan Moehn (3:53.09) both qualified for the 1,500 final.

Senior Sam Kempka placed seventh in the shot put with a personal best throw of 61-2, and junior Laquan Nairn finished seventh in the long jump (25 1/2).

Bucknam said he believes the meet is a five-team race entering today's action. Florida leads with 37 points, followed by Georgia with 34, Arkansas and Mississippi State each with 32 and Alabama, LSU and Tennessee with 28 each.

LSU has the edge, Bucknam added, but it doesn't take much to bring everyone back to even.

"All that has to happen is one mishap by somebody," he said. "All it takes is one error -- somebody false starts, drops a stick in the relay, falls down in a race. ... It's not a play-around track meet. Anything can happen.

"You might think you're out of it, look like you're 20 points out of first place, then next thing you know you're back in it. Just got to keep plugging away."

Sports on 05/11/2019

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