Steeple gold for Kibet, decathlon silver for Spejcher

OXFORD, Miss. – Late night racing produced another 16 points for the Razorbacks with Andrew Kibet leading a 1-3-7 finish in the 3,000m steeplechase with a career best time of 8:42.87 during the second day of the SEC Championships at the Ole Miss Track and Field Complex.

Another 13 points were added by the decathlon duo of Daniel Spejcher and Noah Swaby as they placed second and fourth in an extended decathlon that was delayed by over five hours due to inclement weather.

Through seven of 21 scored events the current team scores have Tennessee leading at 55, followed by Alabama (54) and Arkansas (45). The rest of the current top five schools includes Georgia (27) and LSU (20).

Kibet, the SEC runner-up in 2021, broke the facility record of 8:51.73 set in 2021 by Oklahoma State’s Ryan Smeeton. In the process he improved his previous best in the event from an 8:50.14 established in 2021.

This marked the 15th victory for Arkansas in the SEC steeplechase since winning the first title in 1995.

Carter Persyn also produced a PR with an 8:54.94 to place fifth while Emmanuel Cheboson clocked a season best of 8:59.81 to finish seventh.

The decathlon 110m hurdles were set to start at 1:45 p.m. but ended up being delayed until 7 p.m. due to lightning and thunderstorms that rolled through the area.

Once underway, Spejcher moved into second place with a 14.77 in the hurdles for 856 points. Swaby produced the best discus throw in the field with a 155-6 (47.40) effort for 816 points and that elevated him into sixth place.

Vaulting 15-3 (4.65) picked up 804 points for Spejcher and left him with a seven-point margin over Tennessee’s Yariel Soto. Swaby improved one more position as a 13-7.25 vault collected 659 points.

With another throwing event, Spejcher led the field with a career best toss of 188-11 (57.60) to improve his score to 7,068 points. That gave him a 147-point lead over Soto.

Swaby finished second with a mark of 183-11 (56.06) for 679 points. It kept Swaby in fifth place, but only six points behind John Murray of Auburn.

Closing with the 1,500m at 12:45 a.m., Swaby and Spejcher finished fourth and fifth in the race. Swaby clocked 4:45.51 for 646 points while Spejcher set a career best of 4:48.57 for 627 points.

Georgia’s Johannes Erm claimed the overall victory with 8,132 points as Spejcher totaled 7,695 points for the silver medal. Soto’s 7,600 finished third. Swaby held onto the fourth-place position with his tally of 7,302 as the Razorbacks totaled 13 points in the decathlon.

Qualifying races on Friday had four Arkansas hurdlers advancing in the 110m hurdles while another pair of Razorbacks advanced in the 1,500m.

Eric Edwards, Jr. of LSU led the hurdle field with a 13.43 and Arkansas had the next three fastest times from Phillip Lemonious (13.65), Tre’Bien Gilbert (13.70), and Ayden Owens-Delerme (13.80). Arkansas claimed four of the six automatic qualifying positions as Matthew Lewis-Banks ran 13.82.

Amon Kemboi and Elias Schreml advanced in the 1,500m. Kemboi ran 3:45.29, fourth best in the prelim round, while Schreml turned in a 3:45.42.

Just missing the final in the 100m was Roman Turner, who had a 10.42 while 10.41 was the last time qualifier. Racing in the 400m prelims, James Milholen (46.47) and Brandon Battle (46.75) were 10th and 13th among a field of 33.

Ryan Brown placed ninth in the long jump final with a leap of 24-6.5 (7.48) with John Baker 14th at 24-1.5 (7.35).