BATON ROUGE, La. — Conditions were hot and muggy on Friday afternoon in Baton Rouge and apparently just right for the No. 3 Arkansas women’s track and field team to secure some improved performances at the SEC Relays.
A phenomenal showing in the 4-x-800-meter relay, courtesy of Ceara Watson, Carina Viljoen, Nikki Hiltz and Therese Haiss, highlighted the day. Watson led off for the group, jockeying for a better position on the first lap before kicking past her conference rivals down the home stretch on lap two. Viljoen raced close with Texas A&M for the majority of her leg but made sure to hand off the baton to Hiltz with a lead – a lead that grew stronger from Hiltz to Haiss. The quartet set a stadium record with their winning time of 8 minutes, 33.97 seconds.
All-American quarter-miler Daina Harper shaved .39 seconds off of her personal best to win the 400 with the third-fastest time in the NCAA this year. Harper rounded the track in 51.38 and won the race by almost a two-second margin. Junior Regan Ward also captured an event title, winning the steeplechase in a season’s best time of 10:19.99. Ward’s performance ranks her among the top-20 best in the NCAA West region.
Additional Notable Performances
Sophomore Kiara Parker raced to a solid all-conditions best in the 200, finishing sixth with 23.23. Parker moves up to No. 25 in the NCAA West.
Junior Payton Stumbaugh clocked a lifetime best in the 200 of 23.59 and a season’ best in the 100 hurdles of 13.13. Stumbaugh finished second in the hurdles, only trailing Olympian Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Kentucky.
Sophomore Damajahnee Birch improved on her season’s best, crossing the finish line as the runner-up in the 400 hurdles in 57.44. She remains at No. 6 on the NCAA West region performance list.
Day two for the Razorbacks will begin with the women’s pole vault at 11:30 a.m. CT. With two national champions in the mix, fans can expect exciting displays of athleticism.
Head Coach Lance Harter Sounds Off
On Day One of the SEC Relays
“We’re elated with Payton Stumbaugh and the hurdles. She beat a very, very competitive field of SEC individuals. We came back in the 4-x-800 and had a real runway performance that was truly an all across the board effort. Rachel Nichwitz had a breakthrough performance in the steeple and picked up a big PR and Regan Ward did a great job winning the race and improving on her PR for the year. Daina Harper had an outstanding day in the 400. She just continues to show her overall development and has come so far as athlete. She literally gets better with each meet.”
200 Meters: 6. Kiara Parker – 23.23, 13. Payton Stumbaugh – 23.59
400 Meters: 1. Daina Harper – 51.38, 5. Sunkietra McCallister – 54.41
5,000 Meters: 3. Logan Bishop – 17:29.83, 6. Kelsey Schrader – 17:49.07
100 Meter Hurdles: 2. Payton Stumbaugh – 13.13
400 Meter Hurdles: 2. Damajahnee Birch – 57.44
Steeplechase: 1. Regan Ward – 10:19.99, 2. Rachel Nichwitz – 10:34.00
Sprint Medley Relay: 6. Baylark, Herman, Hammit, Byrnes – 3:59.82
4-x-800 Meter Relay: 1. Watson, Viljoen, Hiltz, Haiss – 8:33.97 (stadium/meet record)
High Jump: 3. Taliyah Brooks – 1.75m/5-8¾, 7. Leigha Brown – 1.70m/5-7
Long Jump: 10. Ashlee Moore – 5.97m/19-7