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.
NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships:
Razorbacks will have strength in numbers at Austin
Arkansas' Janeek Brown (center) leads Tonea Marshall of LSU and Payton Chadwick (left) as they compete Saturday, May 11, 2019, in the 100-meter hurdles during the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville. Visit nwadg.com/photos to see more photographs from the meet.
FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas women's and men's track and field teams made sure to take care of business at the NCAA West Prelims in Sacramento, Calif., over the weekend.
Arkansas' No. 1-ranked women's team will have a national-leading 17 scoring opportunities at the NCAA Championships June 5-8 in Austin, Texas, after having 13 athletes advance in 10 events at the West Prelims.
Janeek Brown: 100-meter hurdles, 200, 400 relay
Payton Chadwick: 100 hurdles, 200, 400 relay
Kethlin Campbell: 400, 400 relay, 1,600 relay
Kiara Parker: 100, 400 relay, 1,600 relay
Taylor Werner: 5,000, 10,000
Devin Clark: 3-meter steeplechase, 5,000
Lexi Jacobus: pole vault
Tori Hoggard: pole vault
Desiree Freier: pole vault
Carina Viljoen: 1,500
G’Auna Edwards: long jump
Morgan Burks-Magee: 1,600 relay
Paris Peoples: 1,600 relay
Traveon Caldwell: 400-meter hurdles, 1,600 relay
Roy Ejiakuekwu: 100, 400 relay
Rashad Boyd: 200, 400 relay
Gilbert Boit: 10,000
Cameron Griffith: 1,500
Gabe Moore: decathlon
Kris Hari: 100
Nick Hilson: 400-meter hurdles
Erich Sullins: hammer
Josh Oglesby: 400 relay
Tre’Bien Gilbert: 400 relay
Rhayko Schwartz: 1,600 relay
John Winn: 1,600 relay
Hunter Woodhall: 1,600 relay
The Razorbacks' men's teams will have 11 scoring opportunities in Austin after advancing 14 athletes in eight events.
"If we had to write a script prior to the meet, it pretty much went according to the plan," Arkansas women's Coach Lance Harter said. "We're very pleased with our ability to advance.
"Now it's a process of regrouping, getting some rest and let's go get ready for what we can expect in Austin."
Three Arkansas seniors advanced in the pole vault with twin sisters Lexi Jacobus -- a four-time NCAA champion -- and Tori Hoggard along with Desiree Freier.
Sophomore Janeek Brown and senior Payton Chadwick both advanced in the 100-meter hurdles and 200 as well as running legs on the 400 relay. Brown ran 12.17 in the 100 hurdles and a personal-best 22.47 in the 200. Chadwick ran 12.83 and 23.07.
Sophomore Kethlin Campbell advanced in the 400 and ran legs on the 400 and 1,600 relays and senior Kiara Parker advanced in the 100 and with both relays.
In the distance races sophomore Taylor Werner advanced in the 10,000 and 5,000 and junior Devin Clark advanced in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and 5,000.
The only setback for the Arkansas women, Harter said, came when redshirt freshman Lauren Gregory had to drop out of the 5,000 because of a foot injury.
But Clark ran a personal-best 15:38.74 in the 5,000 -- improving by 22 seconds over her top time previously -- to help compensate for Gregory's injury.
"We have a lot of contenders in Austin," Harter said. "No doubt about it."
Harter said he expects Arkansas and Southern California to compete for the team title in Austin as they did at the NCAA indoor meet earlier this year when the Razorbacks won the title and the Trojans were second.
"USC has put together a formidable team outdoors as well," Harter said. "I see [the Trojans] as our main competition."
Arkansas' men's 400 relay advanced to Austin despite having to make a late replacement and put freshman Tre'Bien Gilbert onto the third leg because Kris Hari had a tight hamstring.
Razorbacks Coach Chris Bucknam credited assistant Doug Case with quickly putting together a revamped relay with Josh Oglesby, Rashad Boyd, Gilbert and Roy Ejiakuekwu that ran 39.64.
"Coach Case did a phenomenal job, switching that relay up 30 minutes before the race," Bucknam said. "Gilbert had never been on the relay, but he ran a great third leg and got the stick from Boyd and got it to Ejiakuekwu and put us in a position to win that heat and secure a good lane down in Austin."
The Razorbacks will be led in Austin by juniors Gilbert Boit in the 10,000 and Cameron Griffith in the 1,500 and senior Gabe Moore in the decathlon.
Boit just missed making the 5,000 final. He finished sixth in his heat in 14:07.99 -- one-hundreth of a second by BYU's Clayton Young for the final quality spot.
"Gilbert's in great shape, but it was a mad dash to the finish and he kind of got boxed in with 200 meters to go," Bucknam said. "He had to get out and around some people, and it cost him a qualifying spot. But he's a contender in the 10,000."
Bucknam said the Razorbacks will take a strong team to Austin.
"We've got 11 scoring opportunities and anything can happen at this stage of the game," he said. "I feel like we've taken another step forward this year."
Arkansas fell out of the coaches' top 25 poll last week despite finishing third at the SEC meet.
"We feel like we're a top 10 team," Bucknam said. "That's our goal as we go into the finals in Austin.
"At this stage of the game, the only poll that matters to me now is how we finish at the national championship when it's all said and done."
Sports on 05/27/2019
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.