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.
SEC Outdoors Day 1: UA duo finishes 1-2 in 10,000-meter run
Arkansas runners Sydney Thorvaldson (left) and Julia Paternain finish the women's 10,000 at the SEC Outdoor Championships on Thursday, May 11, 2023, in Baton Rouge, La.
The Arkansas women came up big in the 10,000 meters Thursday night in Baton Rouge, La., as the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships opened at LSU’s Bernie Moore Stadium.
Arkansas scored 21 points in the 10,000 with sophomore Sydney Thorvaldson winning in 35 minutes, 7.5 seconds, junior Julia Paternain taking second (35:07.76) and junior Nyah Hernandez sixth (35:48.84).
“That’s the first SEC title for Syd, and I think there’s many more down the road for her,” Razorbacks women’s Coach Lance Harter said. “Syd has just had a fantastic season, and I think she was very focused on the idea of winning a title.
“I think it would have been a very difficult challenge for somebody else to try to take it away from her.”
Thorvaldson and Paternain moved ahead of Tennessee’s Jasmine Fehr, who finished third, with about 3,000 meters to go.
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“We were very patient and let the Tennessee girl dictate the pace, and we just followed,” Harter said. “Then the race plan was, ‘When you make a move, just make it demonstrative,’ and both Syd and Julia worked together to pull away.”
Through three of 21 events being scored, Missouri leads the women’s team standings with 22 points with No. 3-ranked Arkansas in second with 21.
Arkansas junior Myles Richter took fourth in the men’s 10,000 (30:22.17), which was won by Alabama sophomore Victor Kiprop (29:58.43).
“I’m really proud of Myles’ effort,” Arkansas men’s Coach Chris Bucknam said. “He ran his best race of the year, and that’s all you can ask of your kids in the championship season.”
Arkansas senior Ayden Owens-Delerme is known primarily as a decathlete, but running the 400-meter hurdles in competition for only the second time, he ran 49.12 to advance to Saturday’s final.
It was the second-fastest qualifying time behind Georgia senior Caleb Cavanaugh (49.04), and the No. 3 time on Arkansas’ all-time list.
Owens-Delerme ran his first 400 hurdles race in a meet at LSU two weeks ago and finished in 50.28.
“I’ve coached an NCAA champion in the 400 hurdles,” said Bucknam, referring to Joey Woody winning the event for Northern Iowa in the 1997 NCAA meet. “But in all my years of coaching, I’ve never seen anyone take to it as fast as Ayden has.
“That’s a tricky event with the strike pattern between those 10 hurdles and you have to be precise, but he just did a great job of navigating it and made a great move going into hurdle No. 8 that really got him going.
“He’s got a great shot in the final, because he’s Ayden Owens-Delerme. We’ll see what happens on Saturday, but he’s put himself in contention for sure.”
Owens-Delerme, in an interview with the SEC Network after the race, said he was anxious to try the 400 hurdles.
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“I wanted to test my luck, test my training in something new,” Owens-Delerme said. “I’ve been doing the decathlon for so many years, and I think to become a true champion you’ve got to go out of your comfort zone.”
Owens-Delerme, who last year won the NCAA decathlon title and finished fourth at the World Championships, said running the 400 hurdles hasn’t been a difficult challenge.
“It’s pretty easy, man,” he said. “I’m used to the decathlon. It hurts the body, it hurts the bones, it hurts the tendons.
“This race [Thursday night] is just a training session. That’s all it is for me, and any decathlete I think would say the same thing.”
Also advancing to finals for the Razorbacks was junior Leroy Russell in the 800 (1:49.19)
Arkansas junior Britton Wilson, last year’s NCAA champion in the women’s 400-meter hurdles, led all qualifiers Thursday night in 53.76 to advance to the final along with senior Madison Langley-Walker (56.87).
In the heptathlon, Arkansas freshman Macy Owens is eighth through four events with 3,084 points.
Sophomores Nickisha Pryce (23.20) and Rosey Effiong (22.85) advanced to the 200 final for the Razorbacks. Senior Lainey Quandt advanced in the 800 (2:05.91).
Through three of 21 finals, the Razorbacks are 10th with five points in the men’s team standings, but the Razorbacks have plenty of scoring opportunities remaining. Georgia leads with 18 points.
Arkansas senior Daniel Spejche is fifth in the decathlon through five events with 3,962 points and junior Marcus Weaver is sixth with 3,955.
“Those guys are on a personal-best kind of pace for points,” Bucknam said. “It’s a grind out there because it’s really hot and humid and they’re competing in the middle of the day, but they’re right in the mix to score some good points for us.”
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