FAYETTEVILLE — Sandi Morris wanted to give the Randal Tyson Track Center crowd a little bit more to cheer about, but she had some company Saturday afternoon.
Morris, the Arkansas and SEC record holder in the women’s pole vault, cleared 15 feet, 5 inches to win the Tyson Invitational women’s invitational pole vault. But Lexi Weeks had the fans screaming — and herself as well — when she surpassed the 15-foot mark for the first time.
“To have another 15-footer join the club as a Razorback, that’s amazing,” Morris said of Weeks. “That gives us four, and most schools are lucky to have one. I couldn’t be happier for her. We’ll be here training with each other, and we’ll push each other.”
Weeks, a freshman from Cabot, cleared 15-1 on her second attempt to become the NCAA co-leader this season and set a collegiate freshman record. Once her back hit the mat and she realized the bar didn’t fall, she performed a quick roll on the mat and the emotions took over.
Moments later, the celebration begun as she was met by twin sister Tori, who finished tied for sixth at 13-71/4.
“Coming into the meet, that was my goal,” Lexi Weeks said of the clearance. “Once that bar got up there, I was ready to go. I’ve been ready to jump it.
“It’s just so surreal just being a freshman and having the success I’ve had so far. I wanted to clear 15 feet this year, but clearing it so early in the season … I never thought it would be a possibility.”
Weeks’ performance also gave Morris a little extra competition since they were the only vaulters to clear 15-1. Morris easily cleared 15-5 on her first attempt while Weeks bowed out, and that’s when the former Razorback decided to do something she has yet to do in her career — clear 16 feet.
She skipped 15-10, a height she cleared last weekend at Missouri Southern, and went straight to 16-0, which has only been cleared by two other Americans, Jenn Suhr and Demi Payne. Morris, however, missed on all three tries.
“There’s really not a bar for me between 4.70 [15-5] and 4.90 [16-0] that meant anything to me,” Morris said. “I was feeling ready to go, and you’re never going to make the bar unless you put it up there and give yourself a chance to jump it.
“I think it’s in the horizon and higher bars, too. I was trying to figure out which pole I need to use. The first two times, I went with a stiffer pole, but the last time was when I had the best look at it. I got the jitters out and got my best shot at it.”
Arkansas’ women sent most of their distance runners to compete in Iowa State this weekend, but Aubree Worden made the most of staying home. The senior ran the 5,000 meters for the first time in four years and won with a time of 17 minutes, 11.36 seconds, beating second-place finisher Bonnie Smith of Nebraska by almost 20 seconds.
“I was just trying to run it for fun and see what happens,” Worden said. “I thought at first I was going to pace it and go out after 3,000 meters because I had run the mile [Friday]. I felt good at the 3K mark, so I was going to finish it.”
Arkansas’ men didn’t enjoy the same success as the women, but two Razorbacks were able to set personal bests. Junior Clive Pullen finished fourth in the triple jump with a leap of 54-31/4, while Ken LeGassey cleared 7-21/4 to set a personal-best and finish sixth in the high jump.