Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year twice.
A matter of timing: Hogs' Chadwick on track for busy Saturday
Arkansas' Payton Chadwick clears the final hurdle as she competes Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, in a preliminary of the 60-meter hurdles during the Southeastern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championship at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- If all goes as planned, University of Arkansas sprinter Payton Chadwick will run six races for the No. 1-ranked Razorbacks' women's track and field team this weekend when the SEC Outdoor Championships are held at John McDonnell Field.
Chadwick, a senior from Springdale and a 10-time All-American, hopes to be in the finals as well as preliminaries of the 100-meter hurdles and 200 and then run legs in the final of the 400 and 1,600 relays.
The four finals of the 400 relay, 100 hurdles, 200 and 1,600 relay will be held Saturday between 5:15 p.m. and 8:40 p.m. Prelims for the 200 are Thursday and for the 100 hurdles Friday.
"As crazy as it sounds, that's a light load for Payton," said Arkansas assistant Chris Johnson, who coaches the sprinters. "We'll just take it one race at a time."
Earlier in her career Chadwick -- whose last name was Stumbaugh before she married former Arkansas pitcher Cannon Chadwick -- competed in the pentathlon and heptathlon as well as ran open hurdle races or relays at the SEC and NCAA meets.
So six races over three days doesn't seem like too much of a workload considering that at the 2017 SEC outdoor meet Chadwick took second in the heptathlon after its seven events and then finished fifth in the 100 hurdles final after advancing in the prelims.
"It was nice to make the hurdles final," Chadwick said. "But you're so tired after also doing the multi events that you can't run your best race."
That feeling convinced Chadwick to talk to Johnson early in the 2018 indoor season about focusing on the sprints and giving up the heptathlon and pentathlon. Johnson listened and took the idea to Lance Harter, the Razorbacks' head coach.
"Coach Harter was a little harder to convince," Chadwick said. "At first he was kind of like, 'I don't know about that.' "
Harter said he was initially reluctant to have Chadwick stop doing multiple events in which she scored major points to help Arkansas win SEC team titles and also earned All-American honors.
"I was going, 'Wait a minute, we're giving up one of the best heptathletes in the United States to become a sprinter?" Harter said. "But Payton proved very quickly that she was more than capable of making it work."
A day after talking to Harter about focusing on the sprints, Chadwick ran 22.99 seconds in the 200 at the 2018 Razorback Invitational -- tying Taylor Ellis-Watson for the second-fastest time indoors in Arkansas history behind eight-time Olympic medalist Veronica Campbell-Brown's 22.43 in 2004.
"Coach Harter came up to me and said, 'OK, I think you can be a sprinter,' " Chadwick said.
Chadwick provided further proof she should focus on the sprints when she won the 60 hurdles at the 2018 NCAA indoor meet in 7.93.
"She's backed up that decision over and over again with great performances," Harter said. "No question it's worked out great."
Chadwick, who transferred to Arkansas after competing at Oklahoma her freshman year, helped the Razorbacks win the NCAA indoor title this season when she finished third in the 60 hurdles, third in the 200 and ran the anchor leg on the third-place 1,600 relay, accounting for 13 1/2 of Arkansas' 62 points.
"When you have the type of impact on a national meet like Payton did, that's so huge," Johnson said. "She's covered so much ground for us and been so dynamic in everything she does.
"She's going to be thoroughly missed next year."
Chadwick ranks in the top 10 all-time in 10 events for the Razorbacks indoors and outdoors.
"In terms of her career, we couldn't ask for much better than what she's given us," Johnson said. "She's been phenomenal."
Despite Chadwick's success indoors last year and this year, she said converting to the sprints from the multiple events hasn't been easy.
Redshirting the 2018 outdoor season helped her recover from plantar fascitis in her left foot, but it curtailed Chadwick's training.
"It's a whole different ballgame going from working on the sprints in the multi events to working on them in the open races," Chadwick said. "This is my first outdoor season as a sprinter, so it's difficult, but I'm learning a lot of new things. I obviously still have a lot of room to grow."
Chadwick said the biggest adjustment is working on making her technique in the sprints as sound as possible, especially her starts.
"I can't wait to see where this all goes when I get my start perfected," she said. "That's what I'm really working on."
Chadwick goes into the SEC meet ranked fifth in the 100 hurdles (12.97) and 19th in the 200 (23.27) this outdoor season, but Johnson said she's been going through heavy training.
"We've been working hard to get to this point," Johnson said. "Now that the postseason is here, I think you're going to see Payton do some special things outdoors."
After helping Arkansas win the SEC indoor title at home this year when she won the 60 hurdles, took second in the 200 and ran on the fourth-place 1,600 relay, Chadwick hopes to help the Razorbacks win again outdoors. It will be her final home meet with many family and friends in attendance.
"I don't ever really get to see them during the meet," Chadwick said. "But knowing they're there supporting me no matter the outcome, that's a special feeling."
Sports on 05/07/2019
SEC OUTDOOR TRACK AND FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS
WHEN Thursday through Saturday
WHERE John McDonnell Field, Fayetteville
DEFENDING CHAMPIONS Men: Florida; Women: Florida
PAYTON CHADWICK AT A GLANCE
EVENTS 100-meter hurdles, 200 meters, relays
HIGH SCHOOL Springdale Har-Ber
AGE 23 (born Nov. 29, 1995)
NOTEWORTHY — Ten-time All-American at Arkansas since transferring from Oklahoma after her freshman year … Won the 60-meter hurdles at the 2018 NCAA indoor meet and at this year’s SEC indoors … Scored 13 1/2 points at this year’s NCAA indoor meet by taking third in the 60 hurdles, third in the 200 and anchoring the 1,600 relay to a third-place finish … Competed in the heptathlon — taking second at the 2017 SEC meet — and pentathlon before focusing on the sprints last year … Redshirted the 2018 outdoor season because of a foot injury … Married Cannon Chadwick, a former Arkansas pitcher, in 2017 … Working on master’s degree in sports management after graduating last year with a kinesiology degree … Would like to work in an athletic department, but first wants to pursue a pro career in sprinting … three-time Gatorade Arkansas Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year … As high school senior won the state heptathlon title with 5,201 points … Also won four individual Class 7A state titles as a senior in the 100, 200, 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles.
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