COLUMBIA, S.C. — Entering the final day trailing the leader by 23 points, Arkansas displayed the guts and resolve that make it 19-time SEC outdoor champions.
The Razorbacks closed to within six points heading into the final race, but came up just short with a second place finish at the 2017 SEC Outdoor Championships held at Cregger Track.
Arkansas trailed Alabama by 23 points following the completion of day two, but used a 75-point final day to surpass the Tide, 106-103.
Out of 26 SEC Outdoor Championship appearances in program history, Arkansas has finished in the top two 23 times.
“We may have come up a few points short of our championship goal, but our DNA hasn’t changed,” said coach Chris Bucknam, who nearly led the Razorbacks to their 16th SEC Triple Crown. “Our guys competed unbelievably today and through the three days. In a meet like this, you need a few things to go your way and maybe it did not in a couple events, but it was not because our guys weren’t getting after it. I’m really proud of our team.”
Junior Kemar Mowatt proved he had the DNA of a Razorback throughout the day, as he accounted for 20 points over his two individual events and relay.
Mowatt’s most-capturing performance came in the 400-meter hurdles, an event in which he entered the weekend with the top time in the nation at 49.09. His nation-leading time did not hold up through the finals, as three runners bested the mark with the new number one coming from Mowatt at 48.79.
Mowatt is just the fifth Razorback to win the SEC outdoor 400-meter hurdles title, while his mark of 48.79 broke the Arkansas program record of 49.08 set by Sam Rogers in 2000.
“It’s a blessing. Coach Case told me exactly what to do and I went out there and executed,” said Mowatt. “Arkansas is a championship school and for me to come out here and get full points for the team means a lot.”
“One thing about Kemar is that he’s not afraid to race,” Bucknam said. “You see him in 4×100 relay, 110 hurdles, the 400 hurdles and you might see him in the 4×400 relay. Props to Coach Case who has done a great job with him. He (Kemar) goes about his business and keeps getting better.”
The day began with a light rain at the start of triple jump preliminaries that eventually turned into a steady downfall by the time finals started.
Not only having to deal with the rain, defending SEC outdoor champ and reigning national indoor champ Clive Pullen was dealing with a hamstring injury that occurred a few weeks ago.
After delivering a jump of 52-4 in the second round of the prelims that put in him second place, Pullen passed on all three of his jumps in the finals to eventually take fourth place.
One of the jumpers that moved past Pullen in the finals was junior Rubin Owens. Just a few months removed from a fourth-place finish at SEC indoors, Owens established a new PR on his first and third jumps of the prelims.
Owens, who turned in six jumps all over 50 feet, climbed up the leaderboard passed Pullen with his fifth jump of the day on a leap that measured 52-4¾. Owens’ third PR of the event was good enough to earn him third place, All-SEC second team honors and six critical points.
Arkansas’ momentum was stronger than the rain that still existed when the day’s running events commenced. The 4×100-meter relay squad of Roy Ejiakuekwu, Mowatt, Josh Washington and Kenzo Cotton proved that, as they combined to post a time of 39.02 out of lane five, good for second place and eight points. It was just the start of a busy day for Cotton, who was celebrating his birthday. He returned to the track later and picked up five more points in the 100 meters with a 10.23.
One of the most grueling races of the weekend at the SEC Championships is always the 5000 meters, which is the final individual competition. What can make it even harder is having to run the 5000 after competing in the 1500-meter race earlier in the day. That is exactly what junior Jack Bruce and sophomore Alex George did. After his second straight third place finish in the 1500 at SEC outdoors earlier in the afternoon, Bruce fought his way to another six-point contribution and third place finish in the 5000 with a time of 13:53.93. George, who has proven his long distance capabilities with a 2016 SEC cross country title, finished the 5000 just ahead of George in second place at 13:53.83. The duo along with sophomore Austen Dalquist, who was Arkansas’ first point scorer of the weekend in his first-ever go at the 10,000, combined to score 16 points in the 5000.
“Gutty performance by some gutty guys,” said Bucknam. “They laid it all out there on the track. We projected them to get 14 points and they said ‘we’re going get that more’ and they went out there and did it. Unbelievable performance.”
1. Texas A&M – 119
2. Arkansas – 106
3. Alabama – 103
4. Florida – 81.5
5. Georgia – 75
6. Ole Miss – 67
7. LSU – 57
8. South Carolina – 46
9. Auburn – 45.5
9. Tennessee – 45.5
11. Kentucky – 31.5
12. Missouri – 28
13. Mississippi State – 14
All-SEC First Team Performers
Kemar Mowatt – 400-Meter Hurdles
All-SEC Second Team Performers
Jack Bruce – 1500 Meters & 5000 Meters
Kenzo Cotton – 4×100-Meter Relay
Roy Ejiakuekwu – 4×100-Meter Relay
Alex George – 5000 Meters
Kemar Mowatt – 4×100-Meter Relay
Rubin Owens – Triple Jump
Josh Washington – 4×100-Meter Relay
Top 5 Point Scorers
Kemar Mowatt – 20
Kenzo Cotton – 13
Jack Bruce – 12
Josh Washington – 10
Roy Ejiakuekwu – 8
Alex George – 8
4. Kenzo Cotton – 10.23
7. Kemar Mowatt – 13.90 – PR
8. Larry Donald – 13.97 – PR
7. Josh Washington – 20.72
9. Kenzo Cotton – 20.81
9. Obi Igbokwe – 46.84
1. Kemar Mowatt – 48.79 – Arkansas Record & PR
7. Travius Chambers – 51.36
8. Larry Donald – 51.42
4. Carlton Orange – 1:47.28
3. Jack Bruce – 3:54.05
6. Cameron Griffith – 3:54.95
9. Alex George – 3:55.99
2. Alex George – 13:53.83
3. Jack Bruce – 13.53.93
7. Austen Dalquist – 13:58.09 – PR
14. Aidan Swain – 14:21.73 – PR
15. Ethan Moehn – 14:22.35 – PR
16. Kyle Levermore – 14:22.64
20. Cameron Griffith – 14:28.45
2. Arkansas (Roy Ejiakuekwu, Kemar Mowatt, Josh Washington, Kenzo Cotton) – 39.02
6. Arkansas (Jamarco Stephen, Eric Janise, Roy Ejiakuekwu, Obi Igbokwe) – 3:03.83 – Season-Best
3. Rubin Owens – 52-4¾ – PR
4. Clive Pullen – 52-4
9. Brad Culp – 16-1¾