FAYETTEVILLE — The hurdler that Arkansas Razorbacks Men’s coach Chris Bucknam and men’s sprints coach Doug Case counted upon proving himself fit in Friday’s Twilight Invitational at John McDonnell Field tuning up for next weekend’s SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Knoxville, Tennessee, pulled up upon hitting a hurdle.
But hammer thrower Erich Sullins (209-0 breaking his own Razorbacks record) and javelin thrower Karl Springer (216-0) set personal records Friday night that rank them both 10th in the SEC and inspire potential that either might grab a seventh or eighth SEC finish good for two points or one in the team totals.
“Absolutely every point counts,” Bucknam said. “As you know we lost the SEC Indoor to Alabama by three points. So we can go back with our team and show everybody how important a point can be.”
“These guys are on the upswing,” men’s field events coach Travis Geopfert said. “They’re coming own. All six of Erich’s throws were over 200 feet. He adds three feet to his best and he could score. And Springer’s made our school Top 10 list and our javelin list is pretty good.”
Shakiel Chattoo, a transfer hurdler from Azusa Pacific showing spectacular potential indoors as a Razorback then missed the season with an injury, and injured outdoors after opening with a 13.7 110-meters hurdles at the Texas Relays, tuned up smoothly leading Friday night’s 110-meter hurdles until banging a hurdle and pulling up.
“You look at him and he looks like he can run 13-flat,” Bucknam said. “But, it’s a big adjustment transferring from Division II and the injuries, and everybody handles it different. We’ll just try and be patient and get him through it. He just has to work through it because he can be a superstar.”
At least Chattoo didn’t appear injured and physically should be up to trying again at the SEC Outdoor.
“He smacked it pretty hard and I think it surprised him, and he just shut it down,” Case said. “I don’t think he’s injured. He’s been looking great in practice and he was leading by two meters. I think he’s OK.”
Most of Bucknam’s men and the defending SEC Outdoor champion team women accomplished so much at last week’s Arkansas hosted National Relays that they were held out of Friday night’s meet.
But, All-SEC women’s sprinter Jada Baylark tuned up Friday winning the women’s 100-meter dash in 11.40, and Arkansas’ men’s sprinter Obi Igbokwe clocked a 20.73 200-meter dash running second to Wallace Spearmon Jr., the former U.S Olympian and former Razorback clocking 20.67 competing unattached.
Thursday night’s world class mostly professionals men’s 5,000 meters at the Payton Jordan Invite in Palo Alto, Calif., Arkansas senior Jack Bruce ran a personal best 13:28.57 good for only 14th in the race but third among NCAA Division I collegians and best in the SEC for this 2018 outdoor season.
“That wasn’t a fool around race last night,” Bucknam said. “ The competition was outstanding and it looked like there were over 25 entries. I’m just happy Jack Bruce stuck his nose in there and ran very smart. He opened up (this season) with a 3:39 1,500 meters (April 20 at the Bryan Clay Invitational in Azusa, Calif.), and now, he’s run a 13:28 5K, the seventh fastest time in program history. His performance was well worth the trip. Now it’s on to the conference meet.”
For Harter’s women at the Payton Jordan, Carina Viljoen improved her NCAA Regional qualifying 1,500-meter run clocking a personal best 4:16.