Shortly after the 2018 NCAA DI Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championships on March 9-10, the Razorbacks began preparing for next task for elite track programs: to capture the NCAA Outdoor Championships in early June.
For the UA women’s track and field team, its second-place finish will leave it in good position to be on the podium once again.
Junior Kiara Parker thinks the team’s unity will keep the team on track, she said.
“We are more of a family than ever before,” Parker said. “We grew closer as the season progressed, and that's something we had to work on a lot this year.”
Last year, the team fell second to the Oregon Ducks, as the Hogs were outscored in the championship 344.74 to 281.91. The Ducks won back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017, but this does not shake the Hogs’ confidence.
Three Razorbacks struck gold in the finals.
Senior Payton Chadwick became Arkansas’ second gold medalist in the 60-meter hurdles. She took first place with a time of 7.93, a personal best. She beat out Anna Cockrell from the University of Southern California by .004 seconds.
Junior Lexi Jacobus will also lead the team to a potential outdoor title this season. Jacobus placed first in the pole vault with a leap of 15-3 1/2. Her first indoor title was in 2016, but she took the throne once again.
Lastly, redshirt senior Taliyah Brooks won the pentathlon after back-to-back years of coming up short of the gold medal.
On March 28, she was awarded Southeastern Conference Field Athlete of the Week after her performance at the Texas Relays, where she placed first in her event. This was the second of the outdoor season.
Bryan Compton, who coaches the field and multi-event competitors, thinks the team's hard work will not go unnoticed, he said.
“If we can continue to work hard, we will finish that work,” Compton said. “Obviously, there are some things that got to happen for us. We have to continue to progress, but of course we see ourselves as contenders to win a national championship.”
Lately, the women’s team has controlled the field of competitors with dominating performances. To open the 2018 outdoor season, the Hogs competed in the Arkansas Spring Invitational, and Brooks and sophomore Jada Baylark broke schools records in their events.
Brooks bettered her own record in the long jump with a distance of 22-3 feet.
During the 4x100-meter relay, Baylark ran her third-leg race with an NCAA-leading time of 11.10, tying former Razorback and Olympian Veronica Campbell Brown. The contest ended with the Hogs winning five event titles.
Junior Carmen Sitz thinks the teams’ experience will help the Hogs be a top contender for the title, she said.
“This year I feel like the team has been way more unified and inclusive,” Sitz said.
Sitz thinks the level of depth the team has will lead to good things, she said.
“Lots of the younger girls are really stepping up this year and doing their part on the team,” Sitz said. “We still have our strong upperclassmen, but I feel like we have a lot more depth this year. This season has been a blast.”
The team’s next event is the John McDonnell Invitational on April 13-14 at the Randal Tyson Track Center.