Wilson goes from small town to big stage

By: Bob Holt
Published: Sunday, April 25, 2021
Arkansas' Tiana Wilson runs Saturday, April 24, 2021, in Fayetteville. (Photo by Robert Black, via University of Arkansas Athletics)
Arkansas' Tiana Wilson runs Saturday, April 24, 2021, in Fayetteville. (Photo by Robert Black, via University of Arkansas Athletics)

FAYETTEVILLE — Tiana Wilson got the University of Arkansas’ first home outdoor track and field meet in two years off to a fast start Saturday at the John McDonnell Invitational.

Wilson, a Razorbacks sophomore from Hamburg, opened the running events at John McDonnell Field by winning the 200 meters in a personal-best 23.21 seconds, which ranks No. 8 on Arkansas’ all-time list.

“One of the nicest, most complimentary things that I get is from other coaches seeing Tiana run and going, ‘Oh my God, where did she come from? What country is she from?’ ” Arkansas women’s Coach Lance Harter said. “I go, ‘She’s from southeastern Arkansas.’

“They go, ‘Really? I never heard of her before.’ Tiana is one of those kids that was under the radar in the state of Arkansas and she’s come here and risen up.

“She’s a pleasant individual and she works really hard. She’s a very impressive athlete and a great competitor out there. She’s really fun to watch.”

The No. 2 Arkansas women’s team took the top four spots in the 200 with sophomore Yoveinny Mota taking second in a personal-best 23.42. She was followed by freshman Jayla Hollis in third (23.92) and junior Morgan Burks-Magee in fourth (24.03).

“A lot of times the first event establishes your momentum,” Harter said. “Obviously people get fired up going, ‘Hey, the 200-meter runners put on a nice show today. So let’s follow suit.’

“That just kind of carries over from event to event.”

The Razorbacks went 1-2 in the pole vault with senior Lauren Martinez and sophomore Nastassja Campbell each clearing 14 feet, 4 3/4 inches.

Martinez, who set her personal best, was the winner based on fewer misses at lower heights. Arkansas freshman Kaitlyn Banas cleared a personal-best 13-9 to take fourth.

Arkansas State University senior Bennett Pascoe, from Conway, won the 3,000 steeplechase in 8:38.12 to set school and meet records. He broke the 50-year-old ASU record of 8:52.44 run by Bob Gray in 1971.

University of Central Arkansas senior Zachary Jewell, from Mena, won the 200 in a personal-best 20.84. ASU sophomore Jermie Walker was third in 21.30.

Arkansas senior Nick Hilson, from Jonesboro, won the 400 hurdles in a season-best 50.75.

ASU junior Grace Flowers won the hammer (188-5) and took second in the discus (151-1). The Red Wolves also got a victory in the discus with junior Babette Vandeput throwing 173-9.

Chastery Fuamatu, an ASU junior from Gentry, took second in the hammer (179-7) and sophomore Evangelynn Harris was third in the discus (149-3).

In the women’s 1,500, Arkansas junior Katie Izzo was second (4:19.16), freshman Isabel Van Camp third (4:20.59) and junior Gracie Hyde, from Jonesboro, fourth (4:21.73) behind Alabama senior Esther Gitali, who won in 4:15.76.

The times for Izzo, Van Camp and Hyde were all personal bests.

Alabama sophomore Mercy Chelangat, the NCAA cross country champion, won the 5,000 in 15:17.79. Arkansas didn’t have any entrants in the race, Harter said, because the Razorbacks will focus on the 5,000 next weekend in Fresno, Calif.

Razorbacks junior Amon Kemboi took second in the 5,000 in 13:35.22 behind Tulsa senior Patrick Dever, who won in 13:28.08. Arkansas senior Gilbert Boit was fifth in 13:53.42.

Arkansas junior Logan Morris, a transfer from Clemson, took third in the women’s steeplechase in 10:07.80. Morris’ time is No. 8 on the UA’s all-time list and was just off her personal-best 10:07.13 when she took second at the 2018 ACC Championships.

UCA senior Jaron Hamilton was fourth in the men’s steeplechase in 8:59.42.

Former Razorback Erich Sullins, competing unattached, won the hammer with a meet record throw of 235-10, which qualifies for the United States Olympic Trials.

Arkansas freshman Ruben Banks was fourth in the hammer with a personal-best throw of 219-4.

Michael Carr, a former ASU All-American competing for Bell Athletics, cleared 17-5 1/2 to win the pole vault.

The University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff took second and third in the shotput with sophomore Deandre Fyffee (55-11 3/4) and freshman Danniel Bailey (49-1 3/4).

The meet will continue today with field events starting at 10 a.m. with the men’s discus, the decathlon resuming at 11 a.m. and running events starting at noon with the women’s 100 hurdles.

Today’s schedule includes the 400 and 1,600 relays.

Admission is $5 for adults and free for those 17 and under. Fans can sit in the east side stands and must wear masks.

Saturday had a announced attendance of 867, and it marked the first time this year Arkansas had fans at a meet. No fans were allowed during the indoor season because of covid-19 safety protocols.

“We haven’t seen crowds in a long time, so that was very much eventful for us,” Harter said. “Hopefully we’ll get a nice crowd again on Sunday.”

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