Written by Shawn Price
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A two-day team scored Razorback Invitational is the next stage for the No. 1 Razorbacks as they host a pair of top 10 teams in No. 3 Georgia and No. 6 Southern California amid a field that also includes Colorado, Iowa State, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Oregon.
Friday (5:30 p.m. CT): SEC Network+ Friday
Saturday (12:30 p.m. CT): SEC Network+ Saturday
Live Results: Razorback Invitational results
The line-up of schools competing this weekend at Randal Tyson Track Center normally would indicate a strong distance field along with an elite level distance medley relay. However, the women’s distance medley was canceled when the field became limited due to various circumstances.
“The mile, 3k and 5k are going to be heavily matched between Ole Miss and ourselves,” said Arkansas women’s head coach Lance Harter. “Oregon’s distance women are dealing with covid and knocked a bunch of them out. Colorado is focusing on March 15 for NCAA cross country, so we’ll only see a couple of their athletes.
“There will still be a sprinkling of All-Americans in the distance events, so there is still plenty of quality. It could have been much deeper, but the west coast is struggling right now.”
The Razorbacks currently have the top three times in the nation for both the mile and the 3,000m. Racing in the 5,000m this weekend are a crew of six Razorbacks, led by defending SEC Indoor champion Katie Izzo. She is joined by Taylor Ewert, Abby Gray, Lauren Gregory, Gracie Hyde and Logan Morris.
Gregory, named the SEC Runner of the Week, paced the squad over 3,000m last week, producing a collegiate-leading time of 9:01.44, which ranks fifth on the 2021 world list.
“Lauren is very, very gifted and unbelievably talented in the classroom,” noted Harter of the biomedical engineering student. “Everything she gets into is 100%, she’s all activity 100%. She has really started to mature and really focus on the gifts that she has as an elite athlete. She has a future as a post-collegian and is starting to really buy into that.
“What we are starting to see in racing these past couple of weekends are the talents Lauren has been blessed with.”
A pole vault field of 18 entrants will include seven Arkansas vaulters as they see competition from five Georgia vaulters.
“The pole vault is going to be a duel between Arkansas’ contingent against the Georgia contingent,” said Harter.
Razorback Nastassja Campbell improved to 14-2 in the pole vault last week and took over sole possession of the No. 10 position on the Arkansas all-time list. She was previously tied with Katie Stripling and Ariel Voskamp at a height of 14-1.25, when she won the Arkansas Invitational two weeks ago.
With USC making a return visit after competing at the Tyson Center last week, the Trojans will offer another challenge for the Arkansas sprinters and hurdlers.
USC produced collegiate leading times in the 60m with Twanisha Terry’s 7.14 and in the 400m from Bailey Leer’s 52.55 in the Wooo Pig Classic. Another Trojan, Mecca McGlaston, posted the second fastest collegiate time this season in the 60m hurdles at 8.08.
Arkansas improved their world-leading time in the 4×400 relay last week with a 3:32.18 as USC finished second in 3:32.44, which is currently third on the world list. They battle once again with Georgia and Mississippi State joining the fray.
“The hurdles are going to be outstanding with USC hurdlers and our hurdles, plus Georgia and Mississippi State each have a good one,” stated Harter. “The 400 is kind of who’s-who in the nation with USC and our crew.”
Leading the Razorback sprint crew are Morgan Burks-Magee, third among collegians at 52.81, Jayla Hollis, equal seventh in the 200m (23.31), and Jayda Barlark, 10th in the 60m (7.32).
Competing in the pentathlon for Arkansas is G’Auna Edwards, the 2020 SEC bronze medalist who scored 4,047 points and moved to No. 10 on the Razorback all-time list.