UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS MEN’S TRACK & FIELD
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Another team victory for the Razorbacks’ men’s indoor track and field team during the Wooo Pig Classic on Friday featured a school record by freshman thrower Ruben Banks and a sub-four-minute mile by Amon Kemboi at Randal Tyson Track Center.
Arkansas totaled 113 points to top a field of national caliber teams which included Southern California (84), Kentucky (81.5), Texas (60.5), LSU (54), Missouri (24), and Oklahoma State (6).
“We’re not really putting a line-up together to score maximum amount of points,” said Arkansas men’s coach Chris Bucknam. “It’s everyone’s second meet of the season, and everybody is kind of doing the same thing we are. We’re feeling out where kids are best at and not over doing it. It’s been a long time since we competed.
“Even across the board, it was a great win for our program. It shows you how good this team is, and we’ve got a lot of room for improvement.”
The 6-4 Banks kicked off the day with a huge effort in the weight throw, reaching a distance of 71 feet, 4.25 inches (21.75) to break the Razorback school record of 69-6 (21.18) set in 2019 by Erich Sullins.
“That was a huge throw,” stated Bucknam. “He’s a talent, there’s no question about that, and he’s a hard worker. You’re going to see a lot of him in the next four years. We’re so pleased with that throw he had.
“It’s pretty heady stuff when you think of the competition he was up against in just his second meet as a Razorback. We’re really excited about Ruben’s throw.”
In facing a pair of LSU throwers, which included 2020 SEC silver medalist Jake Norris, Banks registered an impressive victory in the sixth and final round. The toss moved Banks ahead of LSU’s John Nerdal’s 69-0.5 (21.04) and a best of 68-1.5 (20.76) by Norris.
On the current collegiate list for 2021, Banks ranks fifth in the nation and is the top freshman by over six feet. With a series of marks that included 59-11 (18.26), 66-9.75 (20.36), 64-10.75 (19.78), foul, foul, 71-4.25 (21.75), Banks bettered his debut mark of 60-1 (18.31) three times from last week.
Kemboi recorded the 117th sub-four-mile inside the Tyson Center, as his 3:58.26 kept him well ahead of LSU’s Davis Bove, runner-up in 4:00.20, and Razorback teammate Gilbert Boit, third in a career best 4:02.74. Also posting a PR was Jacob McLeod with a 4:08.42 to place seventh.
Kemboi, who improved his previous mile best of 3:59.52 from 2019, posted splits of 59.16, 1:58.14, 2:57.40 and covered the final pair of laps in 60.86 seconds.
“It’s a shame no one was here to see,” Bucknam said of Kemboi’s performance. “We’re pleased with Amon. We’ve been putting a tough cycle in the last 14 to 21 days, and it’s been tough training. For him to basically take that race from the 800m on in shows you the kind of talent that he is.
“We also got a nice 4:02 PR for Gilbert Boit and one for Jacob McLeod, so all-in-all that group did a great job considering the work load they are under right now.”
Another stellar mark came in the pole vault from Etamar Bhastekar, who holds the Israel national record (5,191 points) in the heptathlon, as he cleared a career best of 17-8.5 (5.40) to win the event. Clearing that height in a multi-event would earn him 1,035 points.
The height for Bhastekar moves him to equal No. 5 on the Arkansas all-time list, matching Mark McGahee from 1990 and passing Jeff Pascoe’s 17-6 from 1987.
“We had a great vault from Etamar, a personal best to win, and some good jumps in the long jump from Johnathan Baker and Ryan Brown,” noted Bucknam. “Kids are competing well and doing a great job, we’re making progress.”
Baker and Brown were second and third in the long jump behind 2019 NCAA Outdoor champion Ja’Mari Ward of Missouri. Ward’s mark of 25-10.25 (7.88) claimed the win while Baker challenged with a 25-6.25 (7.78) to add nearly six inches to his indoor debut from last week. Brown placed third with a 24-8.5 (7.53).
Roman Turner clocked a career best 6.70 as runner-up in the 60m, moving to No. 5 on the Arkansas all-time list. He moved ahead of Omar McLeod (6.71) and Wallace Spearmon, Jr. (6.72).
The 800m race featured three Razorbacks setting personal best times among five that placed second through sixth place. Kieran Taylor led the Hog crew in 1:50.24 and then PRs followed for Jadon Bartholomew (1:51.72), Reese Walters (1:52.07) and Ethan Carney (1:54.39). Luke George posted a 1:54.43 to win the first section and finish sixth overall.
Another Arkansas runner-up effort had Ryan Murphy setting a career best of 8:06.71 in the 3,000m. Carl Elliott, III posted a time of 7.87 as runner-up in the 60m hurdles. James Milholen improved his career best by 0.01 from last week with a 46.84 for fourth place in the 400m.
Milholen also supplied a 46.82 split as the second leg of the Razorbacks 4×400 relay. Arkansas placed fourth in 3:09.72 behind LSU (3:06.64), Kentucky (3:08.18) and Texas (3:09.62).
“This was a short week for us since we competed last Saturday,” noted Bucknam. “Then we turned around and competed on Friday this week. So, it’s been a tough cycle for us, but I’m pleased across the board.”