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 performs as 'guiding light' for UA women
Arkansas' Britton Wilson runs in the 400 meters at the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships on May 13, 2023, in Baton Rouge, La.
Make it a double-double for Arkansas junior Britton Wilson at the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
The only female to win the 400 meters and 400 hurdles at the SEC meet, Wilson has now done it twice after repeating her singular feat on Saturday in Baton Rouge, La.
First Wilson won the 400 meters in 49.13 seconds, setting a collegiate record for the second consecutive day after she ran 49.40 in Friday’s prelims.
Then Wilson won the 400 hurdles in 53.28 to re-set a facility record at LSU’s Bernie Moore Stadium and break the 53.76 she ran in the prelims.
Wilson helped lead the No. 3-ranked Razorbacks to the team title with 134 points. Florida, ranked No. 2, was second with 112 points.
There was supposed to be an hour between the 400 and 400 hurdles, but the break became 90 minutes because of a lightning delay.
“God is so good,” Wilson said with a smile during an interview posted on Arkansas’ Twitter account. “I was over there praying [for a delay]. Getting the extra 30 minutes was nice.
“I have a lot to be happy about, so I feel very blessed.
“I think having my internal motivation is what really gets me going at meets, because I feel like it’s always me against me.
“I’m not really focused on who else is in the race or what my lane is. It’s just, execute in the race and do what I need to do.”
Wilson has flourished under the coaching of Arkansas assistant Chris Johnson the last two years since she transferred from Tennessee.
Last year in addition to Wilson’s SEC titles, she won the NCAA 400 hurdles title and finished fifth at the World Championships and won a gold medal on the United States’ 1,600 relay.
“The bond that she and Chris Johnson have, the trust, the two of them just keep raising the bar,” Arkansas Coach Lance Harter said in an interview with the SEC Network. “Not only at the collegiate level, but at the world level.
“We’re so privileged to her for being somewhat of our guiding light, and we have others … It just keeps going from event to event.”
Arkansas’ women won their 45th SEC championship, all under Harter, who is retiring as cross country and track and field coach at the end of the outdoor season after 34 years.
Johnson, who has coached Arkansas’ sprinters and hurdlers the last 12 years, will replace Harter as head coach.
The Razorbacks won their 10th SEC outdoor title after winning their 11th indoors earlier this year.
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“I think it’s been labeled ‘Harter’s Last Lap,’ ” Harter told the SEC Network, surrounded by the Razorbacks. “I’m just so honored that they put this year together to make my exit as special as possible.”
Arkansas junior Ackera Nugent took second in the 100 hurdles in 12.43 and was edged by LSU junior Alia Armstrong, who won in a meet record 12.40. Razorbacks senior Madison Langley-Walker was eighth in 13.22.
Nugent came back in the 100 and took fourth in 11.13.
The Razorbacks scored 16 points in the 400 with sophomores Aaliyah Pyatt taking sixth (51.42), Nickisha Pryce seventh (51.49) and Rosey Effiong eighth (52.05).
Arkansas’ 1,600 relay team of senior Paris Peoples, Pyatt, sophomore Joanne Reid and junior Amber Anning finished second in the 1,600 relay to Texas A&M to cap the meet.
The Aggies won in 3:27.64 with the Razorbacks running 3:27.91.
In the 1,500, Arkansas freshman Heidi Nielson took seventh (4:22.56) and senior Katie McCune eighth (4:23.73).
“We’re super excited about the momentum we created this weekend to go to the regional meet and then on to the national championships,” Harter told the SEC Network. “It was a total team commitment.
“We scored in every event that we entered and it was a situation of great pride and momentum with each other.”
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