FAYETTEVILLE — In their Twilight Invitational tuneup Friday evening at John McDonnell Field, Arkansas All-American women’s pole vaulters Lexi Weeks, Tori Weeks, the sophomore twin sisters from Cabot,and Desiree Freier announced themselves ready for the Razorbacks’ team title defense at the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships Thursday through Saturday in Columbia, S.C.
Lexi Weeks, the defending SEC Outdoor and defending NCAA Outdoor champion and a 2016 U.S. Olympian, won Friday’s vault on fewer misses at 14-11.
Tori Weeks, the last winter’s SEC Indoor champion, also vaulted 14-11, her personal best outdoors, while Freier vaulted 14-3 1-4.
The three vaulters and their coach, Bryan Compton couldn’t be found after Friday’s vault, but Associate Head Coach Chris Johnson, acting as head coach for this meet with Coach Lance Harter mentoring 1,500-meter runners Nikki Hiltz and Therese Haiss at Friday’s Payton Jordan Invitational at Palo Alto, Calif., said Compton was more than pleased eve as the Weeks twins both missed stepping to 15-1 1-2.
“I talked to Bryan,” Johnson said. “He’s excited about them going into the conference meet. Obviously they are important to what we do, and not to put added pressure on them, but if they just go out and execute and do what we know they can do they are going to be fine. And Desiree jumped over 14-0. In terms of getting ready for the conference and postseason we are going in the right direction.”
Most of the distance runners took the night off while Johnson’s sprinters ran the cobwebs out one last time before the SEC meet.
“It was a tuneup,” Johnson said. “We weren’t worried about time tonight. The times come when you execute when the big time comes.”
Almost because Payton Stumbaugh ran too well on the second leg to leave the competing Rogers State, Tulsa, Oklahoma State teams too far behind to press the third and fourth legs, the women’s 4 x 100 relay in beautiful weather clocked 44.31 after setting the school record of 43.57 in blustery conditions last week in Baton Rouge, La.
Coach Chris Bucknam, whose Razorbacks men defend their SEC Outdoor title Thursday through Saturday in Columbia, S.C., also took it easy on the distance runners Friday and tuned up the sprinters and jumpers in their SEC quest.
Men’s milestones reached Friday included Razorbacks quarter-milers Eric Janise, Jamarco Stephen, Carlton Orange, and John Winn, clocking personal outdoor bests 46.39, 46.56, 47.07 and 47.57 finishing first, second, third and fifth, men’s sprints coach Doug Case said.
Junior Kemar Mowatt, whose 49.04 leads all 2017 collegians in the men’s 400-meter hurdles, but also strives be a SEC scorer in his off event, the 110-meter high hurdles, clocked a season’s best 13.94.
That ranks eighth in the SEC which would score a point if he places eighth the 110-highs in Columbia, S.C.
“We might need that point,” Bucknam said anticipating a down to the wire team battle with Alabama and Texas A&M.
Arkansas long jumper Travonn White leaped a Razorbacks’ best 25-8 while Ken LeGassey, 7-0 1-2, and Rubin Owens, 6-11 1-2.
placed 1-2 in the high jump.
Men’s field events coach Travis Geopfert lauded White, “He got a good jump and hopefully will give us a good start starting the SEC meet off in the long jump. LeGassey is coming into rhythm in the high jump and Owens, 6-11 1-2. He jumps that at Conference he’s going to score.”
Both teams train through Monday while completing UA final exams before flying to South Carolina.