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 four times and has been inducted to the Arkansas Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame.
Razorbacks win SEC in Harter's final indoor meet at home
Arkansas women’s head coach Lance Harter celebrates with his team, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, following the Razorbacks’ championship sweep at the Southeastern Conference 2023 Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas women’s track and field team made sure to christen Lance Harter Track with another SEC title.
Arkansas won its ninth consecutive SEC Indoor championship Saturday at the Randal Tyson Center, where earlier this week the track was named in Harter’s honor.
The No. 2-ranked Razorbacks won going away with 130.5 points with No. 3 Florida taking second with 84.
Harter, in his 33rd and final year as the Razorbacks’ cross country and track and field coach, is retiring in June after the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Arkansas won its 44th SEC title under Harter, including its 13th for indoor track and field to take sole possession of first in the conference. The Razorbacks had been tied with LSU with 12 indoor titles for the most among conference teams.
“What our kids did as a whole was really special to say the least,” Harter said. “It just seemed like things started snowballing for us.”
Arkansas senior Lauren Gregory won the mile and 3,000 meters on Saturday after anchoring the distance medley relay to a third-place finish Friday night when she took the baton with the Razorbacks in 11th after Katie McCune fell on the leadoff leg.
“I think we all knew it needed to happen,” Gregory said of the Razorbacks making sure to win on Harter’s big weekend. “No one was messing around.”
Gregory won the 3,000 about 90 minutes after winning the mile.
“It’s always hard coming back,” Gregory said. “You have some adrenaline, but the 3,000 is so long you’ve got to grit it out. But it was worth it to get the win.”
Gregory won the mile in a meet record 4 minutes, 31.96 seconds, breaking the mark of 4:32.49 by Dominique Scott for the Razorbacks in 2015.
Gregory took the lead on the first lap and kept it the rest for the race as she held off South Carolina sophomore Silan Ayyidiz, who was second in 4:32.19.
In the 3,000, Gregory took the lead with a kick on the final lap.
“Lauren is really starting to come into her own,” Harter said. “Her finishing kick is starting to mature. That’s been four years in the making.”
Sophomore Britton Wilson anchored the Razorbacks’ 1,600 relay to a victory in 3:27.57 after she took second in the 800 in 2:02.13.
“I was a little bummed with getting second in the 800,” said Wilson, who moved from the 400 because Arkansas is so loaded in that event this season. “So I really wanted to go out there and win this relay.”
Wilson was joined on the relay by sophomore Joanne Reid and juniors Rosey Effoing and Amber Anning as they combined for Arkansas’ third consecutive victory in the event at the SEC Indoor meet.
Five Razorbacks scored in the 400 with Anning taking second in a school-record 50.68 — to break the mark of 50.88 Wilson ran last year — Effiong fourth (51.64), Reid fifth (51.76), sophomore Nickisha Pryce sixth (51.83) and senior Paris Peoples eighth (52.28).
“To have five of us in the final was unbelievable,” Anning said. “I know we’re the best 400 school in the nation, and it was great to contribute that much to the team title.”
Arkansas sophomore Ackera Nugent took second in the 60-meter hurdles in a school-record 7.81 and was third in the 60 in 7.20.
Razorbacks freshman Sydney Thorvaldson was fifth in the 3,000 (9:17.94) and senior Gracie Hyde seventh (9:24.68; 8). Sophomore Sydney Billington tied for sixth in the high jump (5 feet, 103/4 inches).
The 1,600 relay victory capped the meet and a perfect weekend for Harter that began with Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek announcing Thursday night at a gathering of more than 400 celebrating Harter’s career that the indoor track was being named after him.
“We wanted to do it for Coach Harter and make it special for him,” Wilson said of winning the SEC title. “We knew how much it meant to him.
“So it was cool for us to all to come together and send Coach Harter out on a high note.”
Harter said it was humbling to hear that the Razorbacks were so committed to winning the team championship for him.
“I think that’s really special,” Harter said. “That shows the character of this team.
“But as a coaching staff, we never talked to them about me at all. We were so busy trying to coach the kids up.”
Harter’s signature is now embedded on the inside of the track’s oval near the finish line.
“[The SEC Network] kept doing interviews on the new Lance Harter emblem on the track,” Gregory said. “I couldn’t stop looking at it.
“I’ve been here 100,000 times, but that’s new. It just adds something else to the experience.”
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