Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Records fall at Razorback Invitational
Arkansas' Chris Bailey runs the 400 meters during the Razorback Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Two Arkansas track and field program records fell Saturday during the Razorback Invitational at Tyson Track Center.
Chris Bailey ran 400 meters in 45.09 seconds to break Terry Gatson’s 18-year-old men’s program record of 45.29, and Ackera Nugent ran the 60 hurdles in 7.88 seconds to break the women’s program record of 7.93 previously set by Payton Chadwick in 2018.
Bailey ran a world-leading time for 2023.
“Chris is on a roll right now,” Arkansas men’s coach Chris Bucknam said in a video posted to the Razorbacks’ social media accounts. “He’s just a phenomenal competitor. We’ve seen it in practice. He’s a special athlete and loves to compete. I think it’s kind of the tip of the iceberg and there’s a lot more — it’s only the end of January. Coach (Doug) Case does a phenomenal job with that whole group and Chris has just lined up with the training really well, and he’s dialed in. I’m really excited about him.”
Bailey said he “shocked” himself with the time.
“I know the countless amount of time we put in here on the track every day,” Bailey said. “I’m trusting Coach Case and letting him take me to the promised land. It was amazing, enjoyable.”
Nugent ran the fourth-fastest 60 hurdles time by a female this year. The first-year transfer previously set the world under-20 record while running at the Tyson Center for Baylor.
“That’s really special to at my previous school have the record, now here have my record,” Nugent said. “It goes to show that I’m making progress with myself, I’m having growth as a young woman and that means a lot in the sport.”
The Arkansas women’s 1,600-meter relay team of Amber Anning, Nickisha Pryce, Paris Peoples and Rosey Effiong finished in 3:26.40 for the fifth-fastest time ever by a college team indoors.
It was the world’s second-fastest time recorded in the month of January, a little more than two seconds off the world record set by a Russian team in January 2006.
Effiong ran the anchor leg in 50.89 to help Arkansas hold off Florida, which was second in 3:27.58. Southern Cal, Texas A&M and LSU all ran times under 3:30.
The Razorbacks were missing one of their star sprinters, Britton Wilson, who was out with an illness.
“To have four girls run under 52.06, and also know that Britton was not in the lineup, you know we just had great performances one after another,” Arkansas women’s coach Lance Harter said. “It almost became contagious. I think if we can keep this momentum and stay healthy, we’re going to be a very formidable foe down the road.”
Amanda Fassold led a 1-2-3 finish for the Razorbacks in the women’s pole vault with a height of 14 feet, 7 1/4 inches. Fassold’s personal-best vault tied High Point’s Sydney Horn for the NCAA lead this season.
“I’ve been dealing with some minor injuries, so it was great to come back out there and be able to do what I know I can do with Coach (Bryan Compton) and all my teammates,” Fassold said. “The vibes today were amazing with the (1,600 relay) going on and everything. It was so much fun.”
Kaitlyn Banas, Grace Ridgeway and Bailee McCorkle all cleared 13-7 to finish second, third and fifth, respectively, for the Razorbacks’ women.
Arkansas’ Sydney Thorvaldson won the women’s 3,000 meters with a time of 9:11.47 and Lauren Gregory won the women’s mile in 4:31.88. Gregory’s time was just shy of Krissy Gear’s school-record time of 4:31.83 set in 2021.
Arkansas’ Matthew Lewis-Banks finished second in the men’s 60 hurdles final with a personal-best time of 7.72 and Philip Lemonious was third in 7.73.
“Coach Case said all along, ‘Keep an eye on him. He’s going to have a breakthrough,’” Bucknam said of Lewis-Banks, a former transfer from Indiana State. “This could have been a breakthrough for him. I’m just really happy for a kid that works so hard and puts a lot into it, and doesn’t ask for a thing; he just wants to be glad he’s out and he’s competing.”
Trey Cunningham, the NCAA champion in the 60 hurdles last season while running for Florida State, edged Lewis-Banks with a time of 7.60. Cunningham, the 2022 Bowerman winner, was one of several professionals who ran Saturday, along with other former Bowerman winners Christian Coleman and Abby Steiner.
Coleman ran 20.64 in the men’s 200 and 6.71 in the prelims for the 60 hurdles, and Steiner ran a world-leading time of 50.59 in the women’s 400.
Aleia Hobbs, a former LSU sprinter, ran the 60 meters in a world-leading time of 6.98 seconds.
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.