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story.lead_photo.caption - Photo by Andy Shupe

— By BOB HOLT

Arkansas Democrat Gazette

FAYETTEVILLE -- After the University of Arkansas women’s track and field team was handed its latest trophy from SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey on Saturday night at John McDonnell Field, the Razorbacks broke out some brooms.

“Kiara brought them,” Arkansas sprinter Janeek Brown said of teammate Kiara Parker. “Because we had a sweeeeeep.”

The way the Razorbacks are sweeping conference championships, they probably should have taken turns driving a Zamboni machine around the infield to celebrate.

When No. 1-ranked Arkansas won the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships with 1391/2 points, it marked the Razorbacks’ fourth triple crown -- sweeping conference cross country, and indoor and outdoor track titles in the same school year -- in the past five years.

Texas A&M, ranked No. 2 nationally, finished second at the SEC outdoors with 85 points -- 541/2 behind the Razorbacks.

Over the past six school years, Arkansas has won 16 of 18 SEC meets. Florida won indoors in 2014 and last year.

So since the 2013-14 school year, the SEC championship scoreboard reads Arkansas 16, Florida 2, everybody else 0.

Arkansas also has won three national championships in that span: 2015 indoors, 2016 outdoors and 2019 indoors.

“That’s why I transferred here,” said Razorbacks senior sprinter Payton Chadwick, who is from Springdale Har-Ber and left Oklahoma after her freshman year to come back home to Arkansas. “I wanted to be amongst elite athletes and coaches.

SWEET 16

The UA women’s cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field teams have won 16 of 18 SEC meets over the past six school years, including four triple crown sweeps. Florida won the other two SEC titles in that span.

Results are divided into the fall semester for cross country and spring semester for track and field to cover the same school year:

“I think it was a pretty good decision. I’ve been a part of multiple SEC championships and national championships.”

The Razorbacks have six SEC triple crowns -- all under Coach Lance Harter -- along with the 1999-2000 and 2001-02 school years.

“Any time you can win a triple crown, it tells the success of the overall program,” Harter said. “That on a given day in cross country you can win it. On a given day indoors you can win it, and then come back outdoors and win it.

“That takes a very special team and a very special balance of distances, sprints and field events.”

Harter, who coaches the distance runners, is always quick to credit assistant coaches Bryan Compton (field events) and Chris Johnson (sprints and hurdles).

At the SEC outdoors, 15 Razorbacks scored in 12 events, with 61 points coming in the sprints and hurdles, 57 in the distance races and 21 1/2 in the field events.

“It’s a tribute to the overall coaching philosophy of the program,” Harter said. “Chris and Bryan are both head coaches in their own right.

“When we put all three prongs together, it makes for a very formidable team.”

Chadwick led the Razorbacks with 17 1/2 points by taking second in the 100-meter hurdles, fourth in the 200, and running on the winning 1,600 relay and second-place 400 relay.

Brown scored 16 points with a victory in 100 hurdles, taking fifth in the 200 and running on the 400 relay.

Taylor Werner scored 15 points by winning the 5,000 and taking fourth in the 1,500, and Kethlin Campbell scored 14 1/2 points by winning the 400 and running on both relays. Devin Clark scored 14 points by winning the 3,000 steeplechase and taking fifth in the 5,000.

Lauren Gregory scored 13 points by taking second in the 5,000 and fifth in the 1,500. Parker scored 10 1/2 points with a third-place finish in the 100 and running on both relays.

“We get momentum from each other -- from everyone,” Campbell said. “We all push each other to do well.”

Harter, in his 29th year at Arkansas, has led the Razorbacks to a combined 35 SEC titles in cross country and indoor track since the Razorbacks joined the conference in the fall of 1991.

Compton is in his 20th year at Arkansas, and Johnson is in his seventh year.

The Razorbacks won a combined six SEC indoor and outdoor titles before Johnson joined the staff, and have won 11 since Harter hired him from Penn State.

“I’m still the same guy, and Bryan’s the same guy,” Harter said. “I think Chris Johnson is the real difference. He’s the X factor. The way he develops kids has become a keystone for our program.”

Johnson said Harter was being too kind with his words, but that he wants to make sure to do his part.

“I want Arkansas to be known as a track program,” Johnson said. “Not just a distance school or a pole vault school, but a total track program.

“I’m not taking anything away from what Coach Harter has done or what Bryan has done. I just want to add on to that. There are a lot of sprint events in an outdoor track meet, so we have to cover a lot of ground, and we want to be effective.”

Going into Saturday’s events, Harter said he believed the meet might go down to the wire between Arkansas and Texas A&M.

“That’s Coach Harter all the time,” Chadwick said with a laugh. “He always gets all anxious and nervous, and then we pull it off.”

Harter said there’s extra satisfaction to Arkansas’ run of SEC titles the past six years because of the conference’s strength. Six SEC teams are ranked in the top 10 of the current national poll.

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