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 three times.
Arkansas women win SEC again
Arkansas coach Lance Harter holds the SEC championship trophy after the Razorbacks won the team title at the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday, May 15, 2021, in College Station, Texas. (Photo by Craig Bisacre, Texas A&M Athletics)
The University of Arkansas women’s track and field team continues to dominate the SEC.
Arkansas won the title at the SEC Outdoor Championships on Saturday night in College Station, Texas, for its 20th title in the conference’s last 21 competitions in cross country, and indoor and outdoor track and field.
The No. 2-ranked Razorbacks won their latest championship with 127 points. No. 1 LSU was second with 120 1/2 points and Alabama third with 116.
“We might be a bit greedy,” Razorbacks Coach Lance Harter said with a laugh. “But it never gets old winning SEC championships.
“With the coaching staff that we have and the way we recruit, we just try to find kids that want to be great and have a lot of competitive drive and very much of a team-oriented spirit.”
The only SEC team to win a conference championship in cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field during the Razorbacks’ reign is Florida, which won the 2018 outdoor title.
Arkansas won its ninth SEC outdoor championship and its seventh triple crown — sweeping cross country, and indoor and outdoor track and field titles in the same school year.
LSU scored 26 points in the 400-meter hurdles — led by a 1-2 finish from Brittley Humphrey (56.14) and Milan Young (56.54) — to move into first place with 100 1/2 points through 17 of 21 events. Arkansas was second with 95.
The Razorbacks regained the lead with 18 points in the 5,000 and held on to win when the 1,600 relay team of Paris Peoples, Morgan Burks-Magee, Shafiqua Maloney and Tiana Wilson finished fourth in 3:29.38.
“I told the kids at our team meeting this morning, ‘Ladies, with us and LSU and Alabama, it’s going to come down to the final events — the 5,000 and the relay. I’m sorry, but that’s just reality,’ ” Harter said. “They just smiled and said, ‘OK, we accept the responsibility.’
“We knew that the 400 hurdles and the 200 were LSU’s big weapons, but that the 5,000 and relay were our aces at the end. Our kids rose up and took care of business and we were able cash in.”
Arkansas junior Katie Izzo took second in the 5,000 in 15:46.06, and the Razorbacks also got points from sophomore Lauren Gregory (fourth in 15:56.55), senior Devin Clark (sixth in 16:03.00) and junior Krissy Gear (seventh in 16.05.71).
Izzo also took second in the 10,000 on Thursday night.
“Katie’s coming on like gangbusters,” Harter said. “A lot of people have been scratching their heads asking where she’s been?
“We took a deliberate break after the indoor season to freshen her up a little bit. Now we’re starting to see the Katie Izzo of old. She’s running very well.”
Wilson, a sophomore from Hamburg, scored in four events for the Razorbacks on Saturday night. In addition to anchoring the 1,600 relay, Wilson took fifth in the 200 (22.72), seventh in the 400 (51.87) and ran on Arkansas’ third-place 400 relay team (43.81). She ran six races total in the meet, including preliminaries.
“Tiana was a workhorse for us all weekend,” Harter said. “But she’s a kid that is just going to give it her all, and she’s very much a team player.”
Freshman Daszay Freeman took third in the 100 hurdles (12.81) for the Razorbacks, with sophomore Yoveinny Mota fourth (12.91) and freshman Jayla Hollis seventh (12.97).
Maloney, a senior, took third in the 800 (2:05.56). Senior Jada Baylark was fourth in both the 100 (11.10) and 200 (22.69).
Arkansas had three scorers in the 1,500 with senior Carina Viljoen taking fourth (4:18.34), junior Kennedy Thomson fifth (4:18.99) and freshman Isabel Van Camp sixth (4:19.13).
Arkansas had two individual champions Friday night when sophomore Nastassja Campbell cleared a personal-best 14-10 3/4 to win the pole vault, and Gear set school and SEC meet records in winning the 3,000 steeplechase in 9:38.62.
Overall, 19 Razorbacks scored in 12 events.
“The kids really rallied around each other,” Harter said. “I think across the board we all were elated with the overall team performance.”
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