Track and Field 3/13

The women’s indoor track and field team poses with the national championship trophy. Arkansas successfully defended its 2019 title with an event-high of 68 points over the weekend. 

The Arkansas women’s track & field team took first place in the NCAA Indoor Championships at the Randal Tyson Track Center over the weekend.

The women’s team won its sixth overall NCAA title and its third NCAA Indoor title. The Razorbacks became the first women’s team in history to secure a victory without a single individual or relay win during an NCAA Indoor Championship.

By the end of the championships, Arkansas totaled 68 points, creating an 11-point margin between the second place team, Texas A&M.

The final day started with the mile, in which seniors Krissy Gear and Kennedy Thomson combined to score 14 points. Gear placed second with a time of 4:32.37 and Thomson placed third, acquiring a career-best time of 4:33.95.

“We started the day with 10 points and knew we had some scoring ability because of all the events that we covered for today,” Arkansas women’s coach Lance Harter said. “I met with the milers, being the first event, and reminded them a lot of times momentum starts with the first event and has a positive flow for the rest of the meet.”

Texas A&M maintained the lead for the majority of the meet, but Arkansas managed to close the gap and then some. Three Razorbacks scored in the 3,000m, combining for 17 points, which was the game-changer for the Hogs and secured the national championship title for them before the meet was over.

Junior Lauren Gregory led the 3,000m athletes to victory, placing second with a time of 9:01.67. Seniors Katie Izzo and Abby Gray placed fourth and fifth, clocking times of 9:03.85 and 9:05.52, respectively. Gray acquired a new career best in the 3,000m and currently ranks eighth on the UA all-time list.

“We met with the 3k girls and said ‘Let’s take the pressure off the mile relay and make a statement here,’” Harter said. “If we can get ahead by 3 or 4 points, then we can put this meet away. They obviously over-achieved and the meet was over.”

The women’s team was able to defend its 2019 NCAA Indoor Championship title and ended the tournament by setting a school record in the 4x400 relay with a time of 3:28.07, surpassing the record Arkansas set two weeks earlier in the SEC Championships with a time of 3:28.50.

The Arkansas men’s track and field team totaled 22 points at the NCAA Indoor Championships, tying for seventh place with Alabama.

Notable performances over the weekend came from sophomore Phillip Lemonious, who set a career best, clocking 7.54 and placing fourth in the 60m hurdle final. Following behind Lemonious was junior Tre’Bien Gilbert, who placed eighth in the 60m hurdle, clocking 7.79.

“Phillip is just an outstanding athlete, improving like he did over the past few weeks,” Arkansas men’s coach Chris Bucknam said. “It shows his upside and we’re very proud of him as well as Tre’Bien Gilbert, who had a big breakthrough this year. It wasn’t the final he wanted, but it will go a long way going forward.”

Another Razorback who contributed points was senior Amon Kemboi, who placed fourth in the 3,000m with a time of 7:50.54. Along with Kemboi in the 3,000m, senior Gilbert Boit placed 11th with a time of 7:57.90.

Kemboi was not proud of his performance in the 5k the previous day, and keeping up with the runner in first place in the 3,000m was difficult for the athlete, Bucknam said.

“To see him come back and run like he did was very encouraging, Bucknam. “Again, it shows you the type of athlete he is. He was very disappointed with the 5k, and for him to rally in one day and come back, along with Gilbert, shows you the character of those guys.”

Junior James Milholen ran an anchor leg split of 45.64 in the 4x400 relay, coming close to knocking off Florida by 0.4 seconds. The Razorbacks clocked a time of 3:06.35, while the Gators clocked a time of 3:06.31.

“We battled all weekend, and James Milholen’s anchor leg on the 4×400 typified what we’ve been going through all year, coming from behind and trying to eek out every point we could,” Bucknam said. “I’m really happy with how our kids fought. We never gave up and finished in the top 10.”

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