McLeod takes a flyer, wins steeplechase

FAYETTEVILLE -- For a guy who hadn't even practiced the 3,000 steeplechase until Thursday, University of Arkansas junior Jacob McLeod had an impressive racing debut in the event.

McLeod, a scorer at SEC meets in cross country and the 5,000 and 10,000, won the steeplechase Friday at the John McDonnell Invitational in 9 minutes, 07.60 seconds for the No. 1-ranked Razorbacks.

"Jacob came up to me this week and said, 'Hey, I think I can do the steeple,' " Arkansas men's Coach Chris Bucknam said. "It's a little late in the season to be starting a new event, but I said, 'OK, we'll go over a few hurdles and water barriers and check it out.'

"He was pretty much a natural, so we decided to race him [on Friday]. He jumped in there and had a good opener. It's not his main event, but this is something we think he can do at the SEC meet."

Bucknam said he was proud of how McLeod attacked a challenging event.

"That takes some courage to step out there and do something like the steeplechase, which can be a disastrous race if you don't watch out," Bucknam said of runners tripping and falling. "You think about the fact he's going out there and running over 30 barriers and water jumps, that's kind of brave."

Alson on Friday, the Razorbacks took the top three spots in the 200 with junior Lance Lang winning in 20.58, followed by sophomore Connor Washington (20.61) and junior James Benson (20.71).

Arkansas' 1,600 relay of senior Chris Bailey, Benson, Lang and Washington won in a meet record 3:04.35. Bailey, running his only race of the meet, ran 44.7 on the leadoff leg.

Former Arkansas All-Americans Omar McLeod, Jarrion Lawson, Marqueze Washington and Kemar Mowatt, competing as Trackwired Elite, won the 400 relay in 39.17.

The Razorbacks' 400 relay of senior Carey McLeod, Lang, Washington and Benson took second in 39.68.

Arkansas took the top three spots in the 110 hurdles with Phillip Lemonious winning in a season-best 13.77 followed by senior Matthew Lewis-Banks (13.90) and sophomore Brevin Sims (14.05).

Arkansas senior Roje Stona and sophomore Ralford Mullings won the shot put and discus, respectively, and set meet records. Stona had a personal-best winning make of 65 feet, 10 1/2 inches and Mullings had won with a throw of 199-2. Sophomore Jordan West took third in the shot put (62-3 1/4) and fourth in the discus (172-10).

Devontie Archer, a redshirt freshman for the Razorbacks, won the 400 hurdles in 51.50.

Arkansas got second-place finishes from juniors John Baker in the long jump (24-2 1/4), Tomas Ferrari in the high jump (6-11) and freshman Reuben Reina in the 1,500 (3:46.45).

"We got some stuff done," Bucknam said. "I think we made a positive step forward."

In women's competition, Arkansas junior Britton Wilson has the weekend off after winning the 400 in a collegiate record 49.51 seconds last week in Gainesville, Fla., but the Razorbacks still dominated the event Friday.

The No. 3-ranked Razorbacks took the top five spots in the 400, led by junior Nickisha Pryce winning in a meet record and personal-best time of 51.47 seconds that ranks eighth on the UA's all-time list.

Pryce was followed in the top five by Arkansas senior Paris Peoples (52.19), sophomore Aaliyah Pyatt (53.36) and juniors Tiana Wilson (53.41) and Amber Anning (54.46).

"Coach Johnson has done a fantastic job with all the sprinters, but the 400 are kind of the hub of that crew," Arkansas women's Coach Lance Harter said of assistant coach Chris Johnson. "If somebody has a day off, we have others to step forward.

"We're counting on them to be a weapon for us. They proved it indoors, and I think they could be even better outdoors."

Pryce broke the previous meet record of 51.71 run by Wilson in 2021. Wilson missed last year recovering from a torn Achilles tendon she suffered during the 2021 NCAA Outdoor Championships.

"Every meet, every workout is important to Tiana," Bucknam said. "She knows she's behind because of the recovery from Achilles surgery, but she's making good headway."

Razorbacks junior Ackera Nugent won the 100 in a meet-record 11.13 and sophomore Rosey Effiong won the 200 in 23.03 with former Razorback Jada Baylark second in 23.14. UA freshman Ariane Linton finished third in the 100 (11.31) and 200 (23.16).

Arkansas senior Kaitlyn Banas and junior Mackenzie Hayward each cleared 13-9 to take 1-2 in the pole vault. Razorbacks junior Amanda Fassold, a two-time NCAA champion coming back from a wrist injury, was third with a clearance of 13-5.

Mackenzie Rogers, an Arkansas freshman competing unattached, won the women's steeplechase in 10:59.36. Arkansas junior Gracie Hyde ran a personal-best 4:19.20 to take second in the 1,500.

University of Arkansas-Little Rock sophomores Ta'Vieon Neal and Troy Knight finished 1-2 in the 100 with personal-best times. Neal won in 10.26 and McKnight ran 10.32.