Hogs nip Tide at finish line
The men’s team race went down to the final event Saturday at the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships in Nashville, Tenn., and the Arkansas Razorbacks had just enough to hold off Alabama.
The Razorbacks finished fourth in the 1,600-meter relay to take the team title with 98 points.
Alabama was second with 93 points. Florida, Ole Miss and Texas A&M finished in a three-way tie for third with 76 points.
“We were able to pull it out, but we had to go deep to the well,” Razorbacks Coach Chris Bucknam said. “I love how our guys competed. We kept our cool and got the job done.”
The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville’s 1,600 relay of Kemar Mowatt, Jamarco Stephen, Eric Janise and Obi Igbokwe took fourth in 3: 04.94 to score the five points necessary to clinch the team title after the Razorbacks led the Crimson Tide 93-87 going into the event.
“We knew we had a good relay, but it’s different when you’re being chased as opposed to being the chaser, so there was a lot of energy for Alabama and those other schools,” Bucknam said. “Our guys hung in there and came through. They knew there was a lot on the line, and they ran really well.”
Jack Bruce anchored the Razorbacks to a second-place finish in the distance medley relay behind Ole Miss on Saturday after winning the 3,000 Friday night.
Bruce won the Razorbacks’ only individual title of the meet, but the Razorbacks scored in 14 of 17 events. They didn’t have any entries in the three events — the pole vault, weight throw and shot- put — in which they didn’t score.
“What a testament to my event coaches,” said Bucknam, referring to assistants Doug Case in the sprints and Travis Geopfert in the field events. “To score in that many events at an SEC meet is pretty impressive when you think about it.
“It just goes to show how well our guys are coached and the effort they put in. We’re a pretty unique program with our depth across the board.
“Guys really bore down and got after it. We’ve got a pretty self-aware team, and they knew every point counted.”
Arkansas senior Clive Pullen took second in the triple jump with a leap of 54-6. Junior Kenzo Cotton took third in the 60 (6.66) and fourth in the 200 (20.65). Igbokwe took fourth in the 400 (45.73) before anchoring the 1,600 relay.
The Razorbacks scored 12 points in the heptathlon with Gabe Moore (5,688) taking fourth, Brad Culp (5,630) fifth and Derek Jacobus ( 5,485) sixth. Andrew Ronoh took fourth in the 5,000 (14:02.36).
Alabama was a surprise challenger to the Razorbacks. Bucknam had expected Florida and Texas A&M to press Arkansas, not the Tide.
“We pretty much nailed what we thought we were going to do, but Florida and Texas A&M had some issues,” Bucknam said. “It seemed like Alabama was the team that picked up their points, and all of a sudden it got really close there at the end.”
Arkansas won its 22nd SEC indoor title in 26 tries since joining the conference. John McDonnell won 15 of 17 titles before retiring as the Razorbacks’ coach, and Bucknam has won 7 of 9.
“The league is pretty well balanced,” Bucknam said. “They come at you from every other school, so to win another SEC title is a good feeling.”