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.
SEC Outdoors Day 2: Vaulters lead the way for UA women
Arkansas pole vaulter Amanda Fassold competes during the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Friday, May 12, 2023, in Baton Rouge, La.
The University of Arkansas women’s pole vaulters piled up the points on Friday night at the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Baton Rouge.
The Razorbacks took four of the top five spots, led by junior Amanda Fassold’s victory, to score 25 points.
Fassold cleared 14 feet, 3 1/2 inches to win her second consecutive SEC Outdoor title after transferring from Azusa (Calif.) Pacific.
Texas A&M sophomore Heather Abadie also cleared 14-3 1/2, but Fassold won because she had fewer misses at lower heights.
Arkansas junior Mackenzie Hayward also cleared 14-3 1/2, a personal best, and finished third. Razorbacks junior Marin Chamberlain and senior Kaitlyn Banas both cleared 13-9 1/4 to finish fourth and fifth.
“Coach [Bryan] Compton just has that knack of having those kids always ready when needed,” Arkansas women’s Coach Lance Harter said of his assistant who coaches the vaulters. “To have them all score fifth or higher is a credit to Bryan and to the athletes themselves obviously. They just all did a fantastic job.
“Amanda has got a little bit of a wrist issue, but she did her best to fight through it.”
The Razorbacks scored 14 points in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with Gracie Hyde, a junior from Jonesboro, taking second (10:03.05) and junior Laura Taborda, a transfer from Ole Miss, finishing third (10:07.19) despite both falling with about 600 meters go in the race.
The Razorbacks were running 1-2, Harter said, when Ole Miss senior Kristen van den Berg made a move for the lead.
“When the Mississippi girl started challenging us, Laura tripped and fell, and it happened so fast that Gracie fell on top of her,” Harter said. “So here’s the two of them squirming around on the track, trying to get back up and regroup and give chase.”
Van den Berg won in 9:56.56.
“It was, ‘OK, let’s get up and get what we can,’ ” Harter said. “We were able to hold onto second and third, and fortunately nobody got hurt. Both Gracie and Laura are fine physically.”
Arkansas junior Britton Wilson ran 49.40 in the 400 meters prelims to break her own collegiate record. She set the record of 49.41 earlier this season.
“Britton looked absolutely fantastic,” Harter said. “She made it look effortless. It was just amazing. She is so strong that she’s able to put these incredible performances together time and time again.
“It’s a real credit to her talent, and then also to how [assistant coach] Chris [Johnson] has brought her around. Because their training has been phenomenal.”
Wilson will attempt to repeat her double of winning the 400 and 400 hurdles at last year’s SEC meet.
Also advancing in the 400 for the Razorbacks were sophomores Aaliyah Pyatt (personal-best 51.34), Nickisha Pryce (51.43) and Rosey Effiong (51.53). Junior Ackera Nugent advanced in the 100 (11.16) and 100 hurdles (wind-aided 12.49). Senior Madison Langley-Walker also advanced in the 100 hurdles (wind-aided 13.07).
Arkansas freshman Macy Owens finished eighth in the heptathlon with 5,162 points.
Through eight of 21 finals being scored, the No. 3 Razorbacks lead with 61 points with Ole Miss in second with 45.
Freshman Heidi Nielson (4:24.01) and senior Katie McCune (4:24.07) advanced to the 1,500 final for the Razorbacks.
“We’ve advanced the majority of people that we’d hoped for,” Harter said. “Now it’s a situation where we just have to take advantage of the opportunities to score as high as possible.”
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