FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas walk-on women’s pole vaulter Bailee McCorkle of Greenwood reached new heights at Friday’s first night of the 2-day Razorback Invitational at the Randal Tyson Indoor Track and likely will join the Razorbacks’ women’s distance medley relay team at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships March 13-14 in Albuquerque, N.M.
McCorkle, a third-year sophomore with a previous 13-7 personal record at the season opening Arkansas Invitational, cleared 14-0 for second place to Georgia’s Kayla Smith, 14-4 isn Friday night’s women’s pole vault.
Before McCorkle’s vault, Katie Izzo anchored Arkansas’ women’s distance medley relay clocked 10:57.08 for second place to Stanford’s 10:55.89. Their times should advance both DMR teams to Albuquerque, Arkansas women’s coach Lance Harter said.
McCorkle has stunned herself emerging from the shadow of 2019 graduated All-American Razorbacks vaulters Lexi Weeks Jacobus, Tori Weeks Hoggard and Desiree Freier.
“Very shocked,” McCorkle said. “I’ve been expecting 14 feet but it’s been a long time coming. I just had to get on the right pole and run fast and run hard and make it happen. My best was 13-7 1-4 at the first home meet. My PR coming into the season was 13-4 1-2. All of of the hard work is paying off. Lifting, sprinting, all of that is coming together.”
So does, she said, listening to vault coach Bryan Compton and her since graduated All-American teammates.
“The last two years working out under them they really pushed me,” McCorkle, who redshirted two years ago upon walking on, said. “Now that I don’t have their umbrella anymore it’s my time.”
Compton enjoyed seeing the walk-on blossom.
“Great family and stuck through the tough times,” Compton said. “Today she did a great job getting on a bigger stick and completing her run through. A big PR. Being a little walk-on from Greenwood she’s doing really well. Hopefully this continues.”
Arkansas women’s pentathlete G’Auana Edwards set a personal record 4,004 pentathlete points finishing fifth in the meet featuring 13 teams from the SEC, Big 12, Pac 12 and Big Ten before Arkansas DMR of Carina Viljoen, on the 1,200, Morgan Burks-Magee, 400, Chrissy Gear, 800, and Izzo, on the mile, in 10:57.08 chased Stanford, 10:55.89 anchored by NCAA Outdoor All-American 1,500-meter senior Ella Donaghu.
Izzo, the unheralded graduate transfer from California Poly San Luis Obispo become last autumn’s SEC Cross Country champion and Arkansas’ first finisher on its 2019 national championship cross country team, it got the baton behind behind Donaghu but battled the Stanford senior to the finish.
“ Katie Izzo is a warrior,” Harter said. “Ella Donagu is an All-American and when she was in high school she was what everybody wanted nobody knew who Katie Izzo was. She (Donagu) was the dream so Katie snuck up on them. Our DMR ran well all the way across the board. Absolutely spectacular, three seconds faster than I anticipated. So we got qualifying out of the way.”
Arkansas men’s coach Chris Bucknam had hoped his Razorbacks would run a distance medley NCAA Indoor qualifier but the Oregon Ducks ran away with that idea. Oregon set a collegiate record 9:24.52 leaving the mile anchors of Texas, second in 9:36.16, and Arkansas All-American Cameron Griffith finishing the third-place Razorbacks 9:40.15, scant purpose but to use their mile leg to prep for today’s individual mile run.
“That was an outstanding time for Oregon,” Bucknam said. “It’s kind of hard to stick your nose in there when they’re running that fast. We just couldn’t get our miler close and it was kind over at that time. We’re better than this. Cameron (4:06 Friday night) has run a 3:57 mile on a relay split but he was way out of it when he got the stick and has to run the mile tomorrow.”
Arkansas’ Laquan Nairn broke 26-0 with a 26-0 3-4 long jump second Friday night to LSU’s Rayvon Grey, 26-6 1-2.
While there will be some events Saturday the morning, the gist of the meet’s finale today is from 1 to 4 p.m.
Photos courtesy of Craven Whitlow, CW3, Sports Action