SEC OUTDOOR TRACK AND FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS:

Twins separated from top SEC spot

By: Bob Holt
Published: Saturday, May 11, 2019
Arkansas pole vaulter Tori Hoggard competes during the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Friday, May 10, 2019, at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville.
Photo by Charlie Kaijo
Arkansas pole vaulter Tori Hoggard competes during the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Friday, May 10, 2019, at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Someone finally beat University of Arkansas senior Lexi Jacobus in the pole vault at the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

It wasn't her twin sister, Tori Hoggard, either.

Vanderbilt junior Kristen Denk cleared 14 feet, 31/2 inches on her first attempt to win the vault Friday night at John McDonnell Field.

Hoggard and Jacobus took second and third, respectively. The Cabot natives both cleared 14-3 1/2 as well, but Hoggard did it on her second attempt and Jacobus on her third.

Denk, Hoggard and Jacobus all missed three attempts at 14-7 1/2.

Jacobus had won three consecutive pole vault conference titles outdoors. No other vaulter has won more than two SEC outdoor titles in the 21 years since the conference added the event for women in 1998.

Jacobus and Hoggard won six of eight SEC indoor and outdoor pole vault titles over the past four years, with five by Jacobus and one by Hoggard. Denk joined Kentucky's Olivia Gruver, who won indoors in 2018, as the only vaulters other than the twins to win an SEC title since 2016.

Arkansas assistant coach Bryan Compton, who coaches the vaulters, said the twins have been dealing with injuries the entire outdoor season.

"They're tough kids, and they made the best of it," Compton said. "We'll try to piece it together and hopefully get through regionals and see what we can do at nationals."

Along with Arkansas junior Desiree Freier tying for fourth in the pole vault by clearing 13-11 3/4, the No. 1-ranked Razorbacks scored 181/2 points in the vault.

"The major goal is to put up as many points for my team as possible, and I was able to contribute six," Jacobus said. "So I'm happy about that."

Hoggard said she realizes the twins -- both with numerous All-American honors -- have set a high bar for themselves.

"I know people were expecting one of us to win," Hoggard said. "But over the last four years at every single SEC meet we've placed in the top three. I think that's a pretty good accomplishment."

Jacobus, who has been slowed by back and groin injuries, competed for the first time since the Texas Relays to open the outdoor season.

"I hadn't vaulted in practice until this week," she said. "I did a little bit on Monday just trying to get back in the groove of things."

Hoggard said she has been dealing with ankle and groin injuries.

"I've been taking it easy this week, just trying to rest," she said. "But I honestly felt confident coming into this meet. Things just didn't click tonight the way I was hoping. Taking second place is still pretty awesome."

Arkansas junior Devin Clark capped Friday night's events by winning the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 9:55.86. Razorbacks Coach Lance Harter said it was Clark's first steeplechase in a year as she continued to recover from an Achilles tendon injury.

"I think Devin winning is a huge indication she can do some things at the national level," Harter said. "This is a huge vote of confidence for her."

Auburn leads the team race through eight of 21 finals scored with 41 points. The Razorbacks are in second with 34.

Texas A&M is tied for fifth with 31 points, but Harter said he expects the Razorbacks and Aggies to battle for the team title with both having so many entrants in today's events.

"It's us and Texas A&M, as best I can tell," Harter said. "A&M's having a great meet. We're firing everything we possibly can fire, it's just a matter of whether we're going to have enough to be able to offset them.

"I think the two of us can go over 100 points, and then we'll probably make it exciting all the way to the mile relay."

Arkansas got sixth-place finishes Friday night from sophomores Rachel Nichwitz in the steeplechase (10:29.41) and G'Auna Edwards in the long jump (20-101/2).

Arkansas sophomore Janeek Brown (12.84) and senior Payton Chadwick (12.91) advanced to the 100 hurdles final. Brown and Chadwick also will run the 200 final and on the 400 relay, and Chadwick will anchor the 1,600 relay as well.

Redshirt freshman Lauren Gregory had the top qualifying time in the 1,500 (4:18.79) and led a group of five Razorbacks who advanced to the final along with senior Sydney Brown, juniors Taylor Werner, Carina Viljoen and Maddy Reed, and freshman Meghan Underwood.

Arkansas senior Kiara Parker led all qualifiers in the 100 by running 11.24, and sophomore Kethlin Campbell ran 52.03 in the 400 to advance.

Jacobus and Hoggard said they hope to be ready for the NCAA West Regional.

"We'll just keep nursing these injuries and get back to it," Hoggard said. "That's the plan."

Sports on 05/11/2019

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