Razorbacks complete mission, sweep 2024 NCAA titles

EUGENE – No. 1 Arkansas completed its mission in spectacular style on the final day of the NCAA Championships at Hayward Field on Saturday, winning the team title with 63 points over 59 for Florida.

Razorback women’s head coach Chris Johnson secured a sweep of NCAA Championships during the 2024 indoor and outdoor seasons in his first year as head coach of the program. Arkansas bettered Florida by five points (55-50) for the NCAA Indoor title in March.

It marks the ninth NCAA Championship for the women’s team and the 51st overall national title for the Arkansas track and field programs.

Entering the final day with two points from a seventh-place finish for Sydney Thorvaldson on Thursday, the Razorbacks accumulated 61 points on the final day. The point production included Arkansas scoring in seven events from the 12 entries they had on Saturday.

Texas finished third in team scoring with 41 points, followed by host Oregon (40.5), Ole Miss (38), and LSU (31).

The Razorbacks created plenty of history along the way with 29 points in the 400m off a first-ever 1-2-3-4 sweep in any NCAA event, scoring the most points by either a men’s or women’s team.

Arkansas surpassed the 24 points Texas women scored in the 400m in 1996 with a 1-2-3 finish. UTEP men totaled 28 points in the 10,000m during the 1981 NCAA meet while Florida State women scored 27 points in the 200m off a 1-2-3-6 finish in 1984.

Nickisha Pryce won the 400m in a collegiate record  and world-leading time of 48.89, which also breaks the Jamaican national record of 49.30 set in 2000 by Lorraine Fenton. Pryce, who finished third in the 2023 NCAA final, entered the meet as the collegiate leader with a 49.32 from winning the SEC title.

Kaylyn Brown became the fastest 19-year-old ever in the world as she finished in second place with a time of 49.13, which equals the previous collegiate record set by Razorback Britton Wilson last year.

Brown bettered the previous world best by a 19-year-old of 49.42 set by Germany’s Grit Breuer in 1991 as a silver medalist in the Tokyo World Championships.

In the history of the NCAA Outdoor Championships six freshmen have claimed a 400m title, but none have ever produced a time better than the 49.13 Brown established as runner-up. The previous best freshman time in the NCAA final was 49.57 by Texas A&M’s Athing Mu in 2021 when she broke the collegiate and American U20 record.

This was the sixth sub-50 second performance by Brown this outdoor season. The one outlier was a 51.17 in the first round of the NCAA West. Her average time among the six 49-second races is 49.70.

Amber Anning clocked 49.59 for third, just off her career best of 49.51, and Rosey Effiong joined her teammates with a sub-50 second time in fourth place with a 49.72 that ranks No. 8 performer on the collegian all-time list.

The four sub-50 second times to sweep the 400m final add up to a 3:17.33 in a 4 x 400m relay

For an encore, the Razorback foursome delivered a world-class finish in the 4 x 400m relay, where Arkansas needed to finish first or second for the team title while third place would leave them tied with Florida for the overall team championship.

The Gators didn’t have a team in the 4 x 400m relay after moving into the team lead with 59 points over Arkansas’ 53 after Parker Valby won the 5,000m, the second to last event in the meet.

A winning time of 3:17.96 in the relay was mind-blowing and left the crowd in awe as it clinched the team title. It bettered the collegiate record of 3:21.92 that Arkansas set in the recent NCAA West meet. Runner-up to the Razorbacks were Tennessee at 3:23.32 with Texas third in 3:23.68.

The splits for the Hog foursome included Anning (50.52), Effiong (49.21), Pryce (49.19), and Brown (49.04) as they controlled the race from the start and steadily increased its lead to 5.36-second margin.

Other sub-50 second splits included Brianna White of Tennessee (49.58), Georgia’s Aaliyah Butler (49.18 on 2nd leg) with the Bulldogs fourth in 3:24.26, and South Carolina’s JaMeesia Ford (49.16) while placing sixth in 3:24.86.

On the world all-time list, Arkansas ranks as the No. 4 performer with the No. 10 performance. The three countries faster than the Razorbacks include the Soviet Union with a 3:15.17 from the 1988 Seoul Olympics, followed by the United States at 3:15.51 from the same Olympic Games with East Germany third best with a 3:15.92 from 1984.

The countries on the all-time world list now behind the scintillating time by Arkansas include Russia (3:18.38, 1993), Jamaica (3:18.71, 2011), Great Britain (3:20.04, 2007), Czechoslovakia (3:20.32, 1983), Poland (3:20.53, 2021), and the Netherlands (3:20.72, 2023).

Starting the final day with the 4 x 100m relay, the Razorbacks finished fourth in 42.71 behind a trio of SEC schools. Ole Miss won the race in 42.34 and were followed by LSU (42.57) and South Carolina (42.63).

Finishing behind Arkansas were Texas Tech (42.87), Baylor (42.98), and Texas (43.06).

Rachel Glenn collected bronze in the 400m hurdles with a time of 54.11, contesting the event after competing in the high jump. USC’s Jasmine Jones broke the meet record with a 53.15 victory while defending champion Savannah Sutherland of Michigan placed second in a career best of 53.25.

Glenn, the NCAA Indoor high jump champion while equaling the collegiate record, tied for 13th in the high jump with a clearance of 5-11.5 (1.82).

Laura Taborda challenged the Razorback school record in the 3,000m steeplechase with another career best. She placed fifth in 9:35.47, moving to No. 2 on the UA all-time list behind a 9:34.76 by Logan Jolly from 2022.

Entering the NCAA Championships with a then career best of 9:50.86, Taborda improved to 9:48.48 in the semifinal and then sliced 13 seconds off in the final.

Destiny Huven moved to No. 5 on the UA all-time list in the 100m hurdles as she produced a time of 12.81 from lane nine in finishing fifth for four additional team points.

Finishing sixth in the 800m after being tripped at the 600m mark, Sanu Jallow clocked 2:01.07. She led the field through 400m at 58.02, with LSU’s Michaela Rose (58.22) and Stanford’s Juliette Whittaker (58.34) each a stride back.

Whittaker claimed the race in 1:59.61 with her teammate Roisin Willis runner-up in 2:00.17. Rose finished fourth in 2:01.03.