FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – No. 1 Arkansas currently sits in second place with 30-points, trailing Alabama by five-points, as the Razorbacks captured three SEC titles on day one of the SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships at Randal Tyson Friday night.
“It was a great day,” said head coach Lance Harter. “The key to today was to advance as many people to the final as possible, and we were way above and beyond our expectations… and the finals that we were a part of tonight we got three 10’s. Cumulatively we couldn’t have asked for any more than we got today. Tomorrow is an opportunity to cash in, and I think with the momentum that was created today, there’s no reason it should slow down.”
Redshirt-Senior Kelsey Herman got things going for Arkansas as she competed in the women’s pentathlon. Herman opened the competition with a lifetime-best in the 60-meter hurdles clocking 8.29 scoring 1,064-pts. She followed up with marks of 1.73m (5-8) in the high jump, 12.31m (40-4.75) in the shot put, 6.10m (20-0.25) in the long jump and 2:20.81 in the 800-meters to finish with a total score of 4,330-pts – a lifetime-best – and a gold medal in the event. Herman is the fifth Razorback to win the pentathlon and second in a row following last year’s SEC and NCAA Champion Taliyah Brooks.
Taylor Werner is an SEC Champion! The junior absolutely ran away from the field in the 5,000-meters running 16:18.39 that was a full 10 seconds faster than the second-place finisher. This is the second SEC title at 5,000-meters for Werner pairing with her title from her freshman campaign in 2017.
“I was ecstatic for Taylor [Werner] for a couple reasons. She followed the race plan until the middle of the race when I told her ‘take off let’s get going’. Once she got going I told her to run as controlled as possible and make it as effortless as possible. She walked away from the field and walked away from the race with a lot of confidence and reconfirmation that she’s 100% healthy and back to her old self after having the back procedure last summer,” said Harter.
The women’s Distance Medley Relay struck gold for Arkansas once again. The relay of Devin Clark, Paris Peoples, Meghan Underwood, and Carina Viljoen went the distance for the Razorbacks turning in a time of 11:21.98 – six seconds ahead of second-place Florida.
While the three SEC titles highlighted action on Day one for the Hogs, Arkansas set themselves up for even more success tomorrow afternoon with how they competed in preliminary action on the track Friday afternoon.
Three Razorbacks will toe the line in tomorrow’s Mile final as Lauren Gregory, Carina Viljoen, and Maddy Reed turned in the No. 1, No. 3 and No. 4 times on the day during prelims. Gregory, the 2017SEC Cross Country Freshman of the Year, is competing in her first SEC Indoor Championships and is the favorite to capture the title tomorrow afternoon as she holds the top-time from prelims of 4:46.87.
Kiara Parker, Janeek Brown, and Jada Baylark will represent the Cardinal and White in the final of the 60-meters with Parker’s time leading the bunch. Parker ran 7.24 trailing only LSU’s Korteni Johnson who ran 7.19 in preliminary action. Brown (7.27) and Baylark (7.28) qualified as the fifth and sixth-fastest from prelims.
Arkansas advanced three to the 400-meter final led by Kethlin Campbell’s lifetime-best in the event at 52.82 that bested her performance of 52.99 last week at the Arkansas Qualifier and tied Chrishuna Williams for the ninth-best performance in program history. Campbell will be joined by Morgan Burks-Magee and Sydney Hammit who ran a personal-best as well crossing the line in 53.15.
Payton Chadwick and Brown stepped on the track for the prelims of the 60-meter hurdles and left with tickets to the finals in the event running the No.1 and No. 2 times on the day at 7.98 and 8.00, respectively.
Alex Byrnes is headed back to the SEC Indoor final in the 800-meters as she ran 2:07.37 to grab one of the two non-auto qualifying spots. Byrnes enters the final with the sixth-fastest time from prelims.
Chadwick and Parker, who punched their tickets in the 60-hurdles and 60-flat, returned to the track in the 200-meter prelims nabbing two more scoring opportunities for Arkansas as they ran times of 23.03 and 23.13, respectively, with Parker’s mark being a lifetime-best. Chadwick’s time was the second-fastest on the night while Parker’s mark finished as the fifth-best from prelims.
“Some people looked at us outdoors (last year), and after winning indoors we just looked like a shadow of ourselves in some respects, but we weren’t that far out of a title.” said Harter. “We just had some key injuries and I was not going to pull the redshirts of the kids we had on ice at the last minute. We had to deal with what we were capable of but we kind of had a smile on our face of ‘wait till you see our indoor/outdoor team’. I think our veterans are doing what we thought they were capable of, but some young ones followed them and are following the model that was set before them, and if we can continue to nurture that after our senior’s graduate we’ll have another class regenerate,” Harter finished
Arkansas will return to Randal Tyson for day two of the SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships tomorrow morning starting at 10:45 a.m.
For more information on Arkansas track and field including in-meet updates, follow @RazorbackTF on Twitter.