Bob Holt is a sports reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he sits on the board of directors for the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year four times and has been inducted to the Arkansas Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame.
Wilson in 2 event finals, sets meet’s 400 record
Arkansas' Britton Wilson competes at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Austin, Texas, on June 8, 2024.
Arkansas junior Britton Wilson stayed on schedule in her bid to become the first female athlete to sweep titles in the 400 meters and 400-meter hurdles at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Wilson advanced to Saturday night’s finals in both events as she had the top times in Thursday night’s semifinals in Austin, Texas.
First Wilson set the NCAA meet record in the 400 by running 49.36 seconds. She broke the previous meet record of 49.57 run by Texas A&M’s Athing Mu in 2021.
Thirty minutes after the 400 semifinals, Wilson ran 54.67 in the 400 hurdles — an event she won at last year’s NCAA meet.
“I feel really good about it,” Wilson said of her 400 race in an interview with ESPN. “It felt really nice and easy. I’m looking forward to the final.”
Wilson, the collegiate record-holder in the 400 at 49.13 which she ran in winning at the SEC meet four weeks ago, was asked about wearing tape on her left leg.
“Just dealing with a shin injury,” she said. “Trying to keep it under wraps. I’m doing good. I’m going to be OK.”
Three Razorbacks advanced to the 400 final with sophomore Nickisha Pryce qualifying with the third-fastest time (a personal-best 50.31) and sophomore Rosey Effiong having the seventh-fastest time (50.69).
Arkansas junior Ackera Nugent won her heat of the 100-meter hurdles in 12.55 to advance to the final. LSU junior Alia Armstrong had the top tie at 12.54.
Nugent ran the leadoff leg on the Razorbacks’ 400-meter relay that finished in a 43.10 — the No. 3 time on Arkansas’ all-time list — to advance to the final. Also running on the relay were freshman Arian Linton, sophomore McKenze Kelley and Effiong.
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Texas’ 400 relay ran 41.55 to break its own collegiate record of 41.89 set earlier this season.
Arkansas junior Amanda Fassold, this year’s NCAA Indoor champion in the pole vault and the runner-up outdoors last year, failed to score as she missed all three attempts at her opening height of 13 feet, 1 1/2 inches.
Fassold won the SEC title when she cleared 14-3 1/4.
The Razorbacks didn’t score in the pole vault in what traditionally has been a strong event for them as junior Mackenzie Hayward finished tied for 13th and junior Kaitlyn Banas finished 16th.
Hayward cleared 13-1 1/2 and 13-7 1/4, but missed three attempts at 14-1 1/4. Banas cleared 13-7 1/4 and missed three attempts at 13-7 1/4.
Arkansas State University senior Pauline Meyer advanced to the final of the 3,000-meter steeplechase by running 9:51.86 for the eighth-fastest qualifying time.
Meyer is Arkansas State’s first female athlete to qualify for an NCAA track final since hurdler Sharika Nelvis in 2014.
Failing to advance to the 400 final for Arkansas were sophomore Joanne Reid (51.84) and senior Paris Peoples (51.87).
Arkansas senior Madison Langley-Walker didn’t finish her heat of the 100 hurdles and didn’t run in the 400 hurdles.
No. 1-ranked Texas, No. 2 Florida and Harvard are tied for first through two of 21 finals scored with 10 points each. Auburn and Stanford are tied for fourth eight points each.
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