Romaine Beckford completes second sweep of NCAA titles

EUGENE – Romaine Beckford completed a sweep of NCAA high jump titles during an undefeated season in 2024 with a winning height of 7 feet, 5 inches (2.26) on Friday at Hayward Field.

The Razorback 4 x 400m relay finished in second place with a school record time of 2:58.83 to close out the meet. Texas A&M won the race in a world-leading time of 2:58.37 while Florida finished third in 2:58.98.

It marks the first time in NCAA Outdoor history three relay teams produced sub 2:59 times in the same race. This is the four time for Arkansas to place second in the NCAA Outdoor 4 x 400m relay. Previous years include 2000, 2013 and 2017.

Florida’s six points in the relay secured the team title with 41 points while Auburn, who didn’t have a 4 x 400m relay, placed second with 40 points. They were followed by USC (33), Alabama (32), and Texas A&M (31) among the top five.

Houston (30.5) finished sixth with Arkansas (30) placing seventh in team scoring. The rest of the top 10 included Virginia (26), Georgia (25), Kansas (22), and Miami (22).

The seventh place finish for the Razorbacks combines with a fourth place finish in NCAA Cross Country last fall as well as an NCAA Indoor runner-up.

That earns Arkansas the USTFCCCA John McDonnell Program of the Year for 2023-24. The Razorbacks were tied with Northern Arizona (2nd cross country, 4th indoor) heading into the NCAA Outdoor Championships. The Lumberjacks finished in a tie for 23rd in Eugene.

Beckford, who also swept the NCAA titles a year ago while with South Florida, finished ahead of two jumpers who cleared 7-3.75 (2.23) in the competition. Nebraska’s Tyus Wilson claimed second place while Arkansas Pine Bluff’s Caleb Snowden placed third.

The 7-5 clearance was a season best for Beckford and moves him to the No. 6 position on the UA all-time outdoor list. Opening at 6-11.5 (2.12), Beckford cleared three bars on first attempts. Then he required second attempts at 7-3.75 (2.23) and 7-5.

When he was the lone competitor remaining, Beckford had three attempts at 7-7.75 (2.33), which is the Paris Olympic standard.

Arkansas had the world-leading 4 x 400m relay time heading into the NCAA Championships with its school record of 2:59.03 from the SEC Championships.

The Razorback foursome supplied some amazing splits with TJ Tomlyanovich leading off with a 45.94 followed by a 44.91 from Lance Lang. At that stage Florida (1:30.18) led over Texas A&M (1:30.80) with Arkansas (1:30.18) in third. A third leg carry of 44.81 by Steven McElroy kept the Razorbacks in third behind Florida (2:15.08) and the Aggies (2:15.17).

Then the anchor legs put on a show. Texas A&M’s Auhmad Robinson split 43.20 while Razorback James Benson II challenged with a 43.17 and Florida’s Jenoah McKiver split 43.90.

Benson’s 43.17 is world-class on any level. It’s the fastest ever in a NCAA final, and second all-time among collegians behind a 43.06 by USC’s Michael Norman in the 2018 NCAA West.

Benson ranks fourth in the world all-time behind the 42.94 world best set by Michael Johnson at the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany along with Jeremy Wariner’s 43.10 at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan.

Texas A&M’s 2:58.37 registers the No. 4 performer and No. 5 performance on the collegiate all-time list. Arkansas is the No. 6 performer and No. 9 performance with the 2:58.83.

With a crew of four Americans comprising the Arkansas relay, they become the third fastest U.S. collegian relay behind Florida’s 2:58.53 from 2022 and a 2:58.82 by Georgia in 2023.

Lang competed in two sprint finals earlier, placing eighth in the 200m (20.67) and ninth in the 100m (10.15), where first and ninth place were separated by 0.2 of a second.