Only three final tune-ups separate Arkansas’ women’s track and field team from postseason competition, the first being this weekend’s SEC Relays in Baton Rouge, La.
The newly minted league relay bout will see nine of the best teams from around the country face off on April 28-29. Teams attending currently ranked in the top-25 include No. 1 Texas A&M, No. 3 Arkansas, No. 4 LSU, No. 8 Kentucky, No. 10 Alabama, No. 17 Ole Miss and No. 23 Tennessee.
4-x-100 Record Watch
Arkansas’ 4-x-100-meter relay team of Taliyah Brooks, Payton Stumbaugh, Daina Harper and Kiara Parker raced to a program record of 43.75 last weekend, relatively unchallenged by the field at the John McDonnell Invitational. The foursome’s new record could potentially improve this weekend, as they will line up against four out of the top-six fastest teams in the country including No. 2 LSU, No. 3 Texas A&M, No. 5 Kentucky and No. 6 Alabama.
Relays For The Win
Seven relays will be contested at Bernie Moore Track Stadium, all of which will be scored using the traditional track and field points scale (First = 10 points, second = 8 points, third = 6 points, fourth = 5 points, fifth = 4 points, sixth = 3 points, seventh = 2 points and eight = 1 point). The weekend will open with the sprint medley relay (200, 200, 400, 800) as well as the 4-x-800 on Friday evening and close with the 4-x-100, 4-x-200, shuttle hurdle, distance medley relay (1,200, 400, 800, 1,600) and 4-x-400 on Saturday afternoon.
Non-Relay Events To Watch
With several of the most-talented vertical jumpers in the country traveling to Baton Rouge this weekend, the pole vault competition is shaping up to be one of the highlights of the meet. The event will feature two national champions in Razorback sophomore Lexi Weeks and Alabama senior Lakan Taylor as well as five All-Americans from the 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships.
The horizontal jumps also look to be action-packed with 2017 NCAA indoor gold and silver medalists Sha’Keela Saunders (Kentucky) and Quanesha Burks (Alabama) entered in the long jump field of 19. A national bronze medalist in the event last year, Brooks will look to take on the jump titans in addition to her role on the track.
Coach Lance Harter Sounds Off
On the Relays: “Anytime we get to go to Louisiana and compete it’s great. They have a fabulous facility. We’re going into more of a relay-type format this year and what’s exciting is our 4-x-100 and our 4-x-400 are going to be the primaries and then it comes to the opportunity to run a distance medley relay or a 4-x-800 relay. Some of our middle distance runners are super excited about the opportunity to run with a baton in their hand outdoors because that never happens. So we’re looking forward to that”
Off the track: “The pole vault will be the featured event. Five of the best vaulters in the United States happen to be all in the SEC. We’re excited about that opportunity and I think there will be a lot of really good performances.”