Razorback Invitational field loaded with top SEC teams

Chris Bailey competes during the Arkansas Invitational on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Track and field teams from all of the Power 5 conferences will compete today and Saturday at the Razorback Invitational hosted by the University of Arkansas at the Randal Tyson Center.

The Razorbacks will be among six SEC teams competing along with Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss and Texas A&M.

The Pac-12 will be represented by USC, Stanford, Arizona State and Oregon State.

Baylor, Iowa State and Oklahoma State from the Big 12 are in the field along with Florida State from the ACC and Iowa from the Big Ten.

BYU, which will join the Big 12 next year, also is among the 16 teams competing.

“We’re super excited,” Arkansas women’s Coach Lance Harter said. “This meet includes 16 of the best programs in the U.S. It’s exceptional and every event has a premium in performance capability.”

Harter said there are numerous athletes competing this weekend who will qualify for the NCAA Championships to be held March 10-11 in Albuquerque, N.M.

“We’re trying to make sure our young people and newcomers have been fairly warned they’re going to jump right into the fire when it comes to competition,” Harter said.

Tonight’s feature race for the UA women will be the distance medley relay against a loaded field that includes Stanford, Oklahoma State, Florida, BYU, Kentucky, Florida State and Oregon State.

“There are seven or eight teams that can produce times to qualify for NCAA Indoor,” Harter said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the collegiate record [10:58.98 by Tennessee in 2009] is broken, but it won’t be us. It should be a great race.”

Saturday’s 400 will feature current collegiate leader Bailey Lear of USC and Florida’s Taliatha Diggs, the defending NCAA Indoor and Outdoor champion.

In the 1,600 relay, which caps Saturday’s events at 4:30 p.m., current collegiate leader and defending NCAA champion Arkansas will run against Florida, LSU and Texas A&M.

Arkansas pole vaulter Amanda Fassold, last year’s SEC champion outdoors and the NCAA runner-up, will compete Saturday along with Razorbacks Kaitlyn Banas, Bailee McCorkle, Marin Chamberlin and Grace Ridgeway.

In men’s competition on Saturday, Razorbacks junior Lexington Hilton will run in the 3,000 after winning the mile two weeks ago at the Arkansas Invitational in a career-best 3:58.70 in his UA debut.

Hilton sat out last year after transferring from Arkansas State University.

“Lex is kind of an unknown and has been doing a lot of training over the past year,” Arkansas men’s Coach Chris Bucknam. “The 3,000 is probably going to be an incredibly fast race with the Stanford kids in there.

“I think [Hilton] will stick his nose in there and run with the best guys in the country. How it ends we’ll see. He’s been a huge boost to our program.”

Arkansas senior Carey McLeod, an All-America transfer from Tennessee, will long jump today.

Razorbacks competing in the heptathlon today and Saturday include Tennessee transfer Yariel Soto Torrado, Daniel Spejcher, Noah Swaby and Marcus Weaver.

Ralford Mullings, an All-America transfer from Arizona State, makes his Arkansas debut today in the shot put joining teammates Jordan West and Roje Stona, who finished first and third at the Arkansas Invitational.

Arkansas’ 1,600-relay team will compete on Saturday against Baylor Florida, and USC.

“It’s a phenomenal track meet and it gets real this weekend,” Bucknam said. “It’s game on now.”

In addition to the collegians, men’s professionals competing include Bowerman winners Christian Coleman in the 60 and 200 meters and Trey Cunningham in the 60 hurdles.

The women’s competition will feature professionals in Bowerman winner Abby Steiner in the 400 along with Bowerman finalist Anna Hall, competing in the 400, 60 hurdles and high jump.

Delilah Muhammad, an Olympic and World Championships gold medalist in the 400 hurdles, will run in the 200 while Shamier Little, a World Championships silver medalist in the 400 hurdles who trains in Fayetteville, will run the 400.


WHEN Friday and Saturday. Events begin at 12:15 p.m. Friday with the women’s pentathlon. Events Saturday begin at 9 a.m, but the top events will be held from 12:30-4:30 p.m.

WHERE Randal Tyson Track Center, Fayetteville

WHO Teams include Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, USC, Arizona State, Stanford, Florida State, Oregon State, Baylor, Iowa, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and BYU.