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Arkansas favored to win SEC again
Arkansas' Katie Izzo leads a pack of runners during the Arkansas Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, at Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Nine SEC women’s track and field teams are ranked among the top 25 nationally, including the University of Arkansas at No. 1, Texas A&M at No. 2 and Georgia at No. 4.
But the Razorbacks are heavy favorites in a loaded conference to continue their SEC domination.
Arkansas has won 18 of the past 19 SEC women’s cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field meets and shows no signs of letting up going into the 2021 SEC Indoor Championships that begin today and run through Saturday at the UA’s Randal Tyson Track Center.
The Razorbacks are going for their seventh consecutive SEC indoor title. They have won 10 indoor titles overall.
“Winning the SEC means a lot to us,” Arkansas Coach Lance Harter said. “We’ve won some titles and we want to keep doing it. If you’ve got them down, let’s try to keep them down.”
Senior distance runner Katie Izzo leads the Razorbacks. She won the 3,000 and 5,000 meters last year and is the conference leader in both events this season.
Other SEC leaders for Arkansas are Krissy Gear in the mile and the distance medley relay team, but the Razorbacks should score well in most of the distance, middle distance and sprint races as well as the pole vault.
“We don’t want to take anything for granted, but we’re in our home facility, which has proven over the course of the season to be an unbelievably fast track,” Harter said. “So we’re looking forward to doing bigger and better things than we have so far this season.”
The Razorbacks won all five of their regular-season meets as well as four cross country meets last fall, topped by their latest SEC title.
“We definitely have a target on our back as we’ll go in as the favorite,” Harter said. “We’ll just have to take advantage of the scoring opportunities we have, and I think we have a lot of bullets to fire.”
Women’s events today include the distance medley relay, pentathlon and weight throw.
Arkansas will be led in the sprints by Rosey Effiong, Paris Peoples and Jada Baylark, and in the pole vault by Bailee McCorkle, Nastassja Campbell and Mackenzie Hayward. G’Auna Edwards is among the top contenders in the pentathlon.
Saturday’s running schedule has just an hour between the mile and 3,000, events in which the Razorbacks have several runners doubling. Among Arkansas’ entrants in the mile and 3,000 are Gear, Lauren Gregory, Kennedy Thomson and Gracie Hyde.
“The mile and 3,000 definitely are our strengths, so having them so close on the schedule tightens up the scoring,” Harter said. “People that might have been favored in those races now kind of have to pick and choose which one they really want to emphasize. They might still run both, but it’s going to be very much of a challenge.
“It’s about how deep in the well do you have to go in the mile to be able to jump back in for the 3,000 soon thereafter.”
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