Five victories for No. 2 Arkansas at LSU Invitational, Gear wins 1,500m in Clovis
BATON ROUGE, La. – No. 2 Arkansas claimed three victories while finishing as the top collegian in two additional events during a productive day of competition at the LSU Invitational held inside Bernie Moore Stadium on Saturday.
Arkansas hurdlers swept the top four places in the 100m hurdles, with two current Razorbacks and a pair of alums. Taliyah Brooks produced a 12.73 victory (0.9 wind) while Daszay Freeman (12.93) and Yoveinny Mota (12.95) followed in second and third place as the top two collegians. Payton Chadwick was fourth in 12.98. Jayla Hollis posted a 13.39 to finish eighth in the race and 10th overall.
The performances by Freeman and Mota were career best times and moved them to No. 3 and 5, respectively, on the UA all-time list. For Mota, who equaled the Venezuelan national record with a 12.97 earlier this season, the 12.95 broke that mark and secured the national record. Freeman improved her previous best of 12.96.
Tiana Wilson hammered another victory by improving her previous best by half a second in the 400m. Wilson clocked an outdoor collegiate-leading 51.21 to defeat Florida’s Taylor Manson (51.58). Morgan Burks-Magee placed sixth with a 53.32.
Of the eight finals Wilson has contested this outdoor season, she has won six of them over three events, winning a pair of races each at 100m, 200m, and 400m. Wilson now ranks No. 5 on the UA all-time list.
With No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Arkansas in the same meet, the pole vault came down to current outdoor collegiate leader in Razorback Nastassja Campbell against NCAA Indoor champion Lisa Gunnarsson of LSU.
When they both cleared 14-8 ¼ (4.48) they were the lone two vaulters remaining. However, Campbell needed three attempts to make the bar while Gunnarsson required two. At the previous height of 14-4 ½ (4.38), Campbell held the advantage having made it on her first attempt while Gunnarsson needed two tries.
Both had three attempts at 14-10 ½ (4.53), but neither was successful. So, Campbell remains the outdoor leader at 14-9 ½ while Gunnarsson is second best at 14-9.
Lauren Martinez, who had won three consecutive meets, finished third with a bar clearance of 14-0 ½ (4.28) while three additional Razorbacks finished 6-7-8. They included Bailee McCorkel (13-6 ½ | 4.13), Mackenzie Hayward (13-0 ¾ | 3.98) and Kaitlyn Banas (13-0 ¾ | 3.98).
Shafiqua Maloney battled for a win in the 800m as her 2:04.69 edged out the 2:04.98 by Lorena Rangel Batres of LSU. Paris Peoples ran 2:08.44 for sixth while Josie Carson raced in another section and finished 12th overall with a 2:11.41.
In the final event on the track, the Razorbacks ran 3:30.62 to earn the victory in the 4×400 relay with a foursome of Maloney, Burks-Magee, Wilson, and Paris Peoples. The win was decisive against Ole Miss (3:44.04) and Alabama (3:45.04).
Jada Baylark posted an 11.34 (wind 1.3) as the top collegian in the 100m behind an 11.01 for Aleia Hobbs and an 11.09 for Mikiah Brisco, both of whom are LSU alums. The next collegian behind Baylark was Brandee Presley of Ole Miss (11.47).
In the 200m, a 23.09 (0.0 wind) placed Baylark third as well and she was the second-best collegian behind LSU’s Symone Mason (23.04) while the winning time was 23.01 from Cyrstal Emmanuel of Athletics Canada. Baylark was just off her 23.00 career best from 2018.
Another section of the 200m was claimed by Mota in 23.23 (0.3) while Brooks fourth in 23.45. Overall, Mota finished fifth and Brooks ninth.
The 4×100 relay opened the running session for Arkansas as they finished third in 44.62 with a foursome of Mota, Wilson, Hollis, and Baylark. Athletics Canada won the race in 43.77 with Florida runner-up in 43.97. Ole Miss finished behind the Razorbacks in 44.66.
Arkansas alum Sparkle McKnight improved her time in the 400m hurdles for this season with a 56.38 victory over a 56.88 from Deonca Bookman and 56.93 by Cassandra Tate.
West Coast Relays | Clovis, California
In late night racing, which finished even later than scheduled due to a blackout, Krissy Gear produced a victory of 4:09.00 in the Invitational 1,500m. The career best time for Gear, improving her previous best of 4:21.21, makes her the No. 9 performer among U.S. collegians and No. 2 on the UA all-time list.
Gear defeated a field of runners which included BYU’s tandem of Whittni Orton (4:09.31) and Anna Camp (4:11.63) and Colorado’s Micaela Degenero (4:13.28).
“The blackout made me more excited for the race, and I thought the lights out made it more fun,” said Gear. “I was super thrilled to toe the line with BYU again. They’ve been crushing it this season, so I was looking forward to that. Realizing I was right behind Whittni got me fired up and gave me more confidence, because I just kept trying to tell myself, ‘I belong up here’.”
Razorbacks in the race included Carina Viljoen (4:14.85) and Isabel Van Camp (4:17.57 PR), they placed 10th and 13th. In another section of the 1,500m, Maddy Reed placed eighth in 4:23.38 with Quinn Owen (4:25.74) and Meghan Underwood (4:26.81) placing 11th and 12th.
Gear currently ranks second on the 2021 collegiate list behind a 4:08.38 by Colorado’s Sage Hurta, which was set the previous weekend. She was just shy of the Razorback school record of 4:08.65 set by Dominique Scott in 2015, while passing Nikki Hiltz (4:09.14) and Christin Wurth (4:10.49).
“The result was extremely encouraging because I opened my outdoor season with a very lackluster time and race,” noted Gear, who broke the UA indoor record in the mile earlier this year. “So, naturally, I was thrilled to be able to turn around four weeks later and improve my time and racing abilities.
“As for moving up the all-time list at Arkansas, I definitely have those same fangirl feelings I did when I surprised myself and ran 4:31 in the mile indoors and put my name up there around the likes of Dom and Nikki.”
Five Razorbacks in the Invitational 5,000m were led by Katie Izzo, who finished seventh in 15:41.33, moving to No. 4 on the UA all-time list. Lauren Gregory followed in 15:48.38 to place 12th while Logan Morris produced a career best of 15:57.66 in finishing 15th. Abby Gray (16:05.62) and Devin Clark (16:06.83) placed 20th and 22nd.
Kennedy Thomson ran 2:06.40 for third place in the Invitational 800m while Gracie Hyde finished sixth in the 3,000m steeplechase with a 10:05.56. In a debut race at 10,000m, run on Friday morning, Corie Smith posted a time of 34:54.25 to place eighth while Adoette Vaughan clocked 36:25.29 to finish 12th.