Friday, June 10, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Lexi Weeks wins NCAA

EUGENE, Ore. – Pole vaulter Lexi Weeks put a fitting end to an unprecedented college season on Thursday, adding an NCAA Outdoor National Championship to her ledger of accomplishments. Weeks had already become the first freshman to ever win an NCAA title when she won the Indoor championship earlier this year. She also became the first freshman in Women’s NCAA track and field history to clear 15-feet, and is now the first freshman to win an Outdoor title and sweep the Indoor and Outdoor championships.

Also, along with senior distance runner Dominique Scott winning the 10,000-meter race, Weeks became half of 26-year Razorback Women’s coach Lance Harter’s first duo to win NCAA individual championships.

Harter’s No. 1 ranked Razorbacks enter today’s final day of the championships with 26 points, 10 ahead of second-place Texas A&M. All 26 points came within a 15-minute stretch of the eight-hour day of competition.

Weeks won the pole vault while the 10,000-meters was in progress, and Taliyah Brooks finished third in the long jump shortly after Scott won her race at the University of Oregon’s Heyward Field.

“In a 15-minute span Lexi (Weeks) won the vault, the 10,000 was en route, Taliyah (Brooks) is long jumping and grabs third,” Harter said. “The 26 points from those three events positions us extremely well heading into the rest of competition. We have some great scoring opportunities on Saturday between all of today’s qualifiers and the heptathlon. We plan on using our rest day wisely and will be ready to go on that last day.”

Other than the opening of the two-day heptathlon on Friday, the remainder of the Women’s Outdoor will be conducted today.

In 26 years coaching the Arkansas Women, coach Harter had never produced more than one individual champion at the NCAA Outdoor until senior Scott easily won Thursday’s 10,000-meter run in 32:35.6, 11 seconds ahead of runner-up Alice Wright of New Mexico.

Weeks, the freshman phenom from Cabot, won the NCAA Outdoor pole vault by clearing 14-9 to go with the NCAA Indoor title she won last March in Birmingham, Ala.

Scott guns for another one Saturday night in the 5,000 as the Arkansas Women seek their first NCAA Outdoor team title to go with their only national championship in the women’s program history when they won the 2015 Indoor in Fayetteville.

Senior Taylor Ellis-Watson, the 2016 NCAA Indoor 400-meter runner-up, advanced to today’s finals by winning her heat with a time of 51.55. She also anchored Arkansas’ 4x400 relay of Brianna Swinton, Daina Harper and Monisa Dobbins, which ran a 3:28.76, second in their heat to advance to today’s final.

Also on Thursday, senior Jessica Kamilos, 9:55.35, and freshman Devin Clark, 9:58.26, advanced to the final in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

To go along with all who advanced in Thursday’s prelims to Saturday’s finals, the Razorbacks will have heptathletes Brooks, Payton Stumbaugh, Alex Gochenour and Leigha Brown competing for top eight scoring spots Friday and Saturday.