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Hogs scramble to finish seventh at NCAA Indoor Championships

| allHOGS •

Scoring 22 points, 16 of which were accomplished on the final day, enabled Arkansas to finish in a tie for seventh place in team scoring at the NCAA Indoor Championships hosted inside Randal Tyson Track Center.

“We battled all weekend, and James Milholen’s anchor leg on the 4×400 typified what we’ve been going through all year, coming from behind and trying to eek out every point we could,” said Arkansas coach Chris Bucknam. “I’m really happy with how our kids fought. We never gave up and finished in the top 10.”

Oregon claimed the national team title with 79 points while LSU was runner-up at 56 points and Georgia placed third with 35 points.

The rest of the top 10 included Florida (34), North Carolina A&T (30), Florida State (23), Alabama (22), Arkansas (22), Tennessee (21) and Ole Miss (20).

“We just didn’t have anything go our way,” added Bucknam. “We had some injuries, and some misfortune. It’s tough to see those points slip away.”

In placing fourth in a very competitive 60m hurdle final, Phillip Lemonious set another career best this weekend in clocking a 7.54 to improve upon the 7.60 he ran in the prelims. LSU’s Damion Thomas won the race in 7.51, the collegiate leader for 2021, with Iowa’s Jamal Britt runner-up at 7.52 and Florida State’s Trey Cunningham third with a 7.53.

Behind Lemonious in fifth place was LSU’s Eric Edwards in 7.58 while another Razorback in the race, Tre’Bien Gilbert, placed eighth in 7.79.

“Phillip is just an outstanding athlete, improving like he did over the past few weeks,” said Bucknam of the January transfer. “It shows his upside and we’re very proud of him as well as Tre’Bien Gilbert, who had a big breakthrough this year. It wasn’t the final he wanted, but it will go a long way going forward.”

Another Razorback claiming fourth place points was Amon Kemboi in the 3,000m as he posted a time of 7:50.54 while teammate Gilbert Boit finished 11th in 7:57.90.

“That 5k the previous night is on me,” said Bucknam. “We did not think it was going to be that hot in the first mile. Our goal was to run with the leader, since we knew he was the king pin and the guy to beat. Our goal was to run with that athlete. It just went out in a torrid pace and ruined Amon.

“To see him come back and run like he did was very encouraging. Again, it shows you the type of athlete he is. He was very disappointed with the 5k, and for him to rally in one day and come back, along with Gilbert, shows you the character of those guys.”

In the 4×400 relay, the Razorbacks placed sixth overall, finishing as runner-up in the second of three sections, clocking a 3:06.35 just behind Florida’s 3:06.31 and ahead of Texas A&M’s 3:06.77.

An anchor leg split of 45.64 by James Milholen nearly had Arkansas knocking off the Gators. The first three legs for UA included Jeremy Farr (47.56), Jalen Brown (46.88), and Rhayko Schwartz (46.27).

North Carolina A&T won the final section in 3:03.16 over Kentucky (3:03.61) and Tennessee (3:04.10).

Kieran Taylor finished seventh in the 800m with a 1:50.79, joining his father Gary as an individual Razorback All-American.

“KT ran a really smart prelim,” said Bucknam. “Any time you get into a final like that in that race, it’s a danger race. For him to do that shows his experience. I know that he wished he had a little faster time and faster run in the final.

“To go along with his dad Gary, that doesn’t happen very often in the world of sports, certainly in track and field. So glad to see it and so happy for them. It was a big two points for us today.”

Competing in the pole vault after contesting the heptathlon the past two days, Etamar Bhastekar tied for 12th at 17-4½ (5.30).

Collegiate record holder KC Lightfoot of Baylor cleared 19-5½ (5.93) in winning the event while setting a meet and facility record. The previous NCAA meet record was 19-4¾ (5.91) set by Akron’s Shawn Barber in 2015 while the facility record of 19-5 (5.92) was established by LSU’s Mondo Duplantis in 2019.