FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – First day action at the SEC Indoor Championships for the Razorbacks included a fourth-place performance by freshman Ruben Banks in the weight throw along with team points from the distance medley relay.
Banks produced one of the best marks ever by a freshman in the conference weight throw with an impressive toss of 71-0.75 (21.66). Banks hit that mark in the first round and was stationed in third place through the first three rounds. After the final three rounds, Banks dropped one position to place fourth.
“I was really happy with today given this is my first SEC Championship,” said Banks, who set the Arkansas school record earlier this season with a mark of 71-4.25 (21.75). “It was more of trying to get a feel for everything. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and having solid competition was really good to throw in.”
The previous best mark by a SEC freshman over the past dozen years was 70-1 (21.36) by Florida’s Thomas Mardal in 2018, who won Thursday’s competition with a meet record heave of 79-3.25 (24.16).
Banks matched the freshman conference mark of Walter Henning, who won the ACC title at North Carolina with a throw of 71-0.75 (21.66) in 2008 before transferring to LSU and setting the SEC meet record of 78-1 (23.80) in 2010.
“With my big throw I just think I had really good energy coming into it,” noted Banks. “There were small fixes I needed to do. But I felt that I slowly declined with the rest of my throws. Going into nationals I need to stay calm. Even though I’ve been competing here all season, the energy was definitely different today. I imagine it will be even higher at nationals.
“Thomas Mardal’s throw is really remarkable. I’ve never seen a throw like that in person. He’s a phenomenal athlete.”
Running in the distance medley relay for Arkansas were Reese Walters (3:02.06), Rhayko Schwartz (48.82), Jadon Bartholomew (1:51.13) and Andrew Kibet (4:01.37). The Razorbacks finished seventh with a time of 9:43.38.
The first day of the heptathlon has three Razorbacks stationed among the top seven. Markus Ballengee leads the trio with 3,280 points in second place, trailing leader and defending champion Kyle Garland of Georgia (3,454) by 174 points.
With 3,110 points Daniel Spejcher is in fifth place while Etamar Bhastekar is seventh with 3,003 points.
Ballengee’s day included a 7.00 in the 60m (882 points), 23-5 ¼ (847) in the long jump, 48-10 ¾ (784) in the shot put and 6-5 (767) in the high jump. Spejcher led the shot put portion of the event with a 50-1 ¾ (807) mark. Bhastekar collected 907 points with a 6.93 in the 60m.
Friday’s action includes the continuation of the heptathlon at 10 a.m., field events at noon, and prelims in running events starting at 2 p.m. The final of the 5,000m will be at 3:15 p.m.