FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.— The University of Arkansas men won the team title at the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships without winning an individual event or relay.
Talk about a team effort.
It’s the first time since the SEC began having an indoor championship in 1957 that a team won the title without winning an event.
Arkansas, ranked No. 3 nationally, won its second consecutive SEC indoor title and 24th in 30 meets since joining the conference by finishing with 116 points Saturday on the last of three days of the competition held at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
LSU, ranked No. 2, was second with 93 points followed by Alabama (72), Ole Miss (70 1/2) and Florida (57) in the top five.
The Razorbacks scored in 14 of 17 events, all but the 200 meters, high jump and shotput. They piled up points with finishes from second through eighth in the scoring positions. Of the 27 athletes on the Arkansas roster, 24 scored points.
“It’s kind of like you’re World Series champions and you didn’t hit a home run and other team hit some, but you scored more runs,” Razorbacks Coach Chris Bucknam said. “We hit a lot of singles, doubles and triples.”
Senior Amon Kemboi led Arkansas with 14 points Saturday. He took second in the mile (3:58.56) and third in the 3,000 (8:04.63) in races run just an hour apart.
The Razorbacks likely would have had an individual champion if Kemboi had focused on running Friday’s 5,000 — he’s the conference leader in the event this season — but he doubled on Saturday to maximize scoring opportunities for his team.
“As it turned out, we didn’t have to run Amon in the 3,000, we had the meet won by then,” Bucknam said. “But he felt like he made a tactical error in the mile and he goes, ‘Coach, I’m running that 3K. I need to get in there and score points for us.’
“He loves to compete. It’s hard to pull him off the track.”
The Razorbacks went 3-4 in the 60 hurdles with Tre’Bien Gilbert (7.70) and Phillip Lemonious (7.71). Kieran Taylor took fourth in the 800 (1:50:44), and Andrew Kibet was sixth in the mile (4:03.49; 7).
In the 60, Arkansas got third from Kris Hari (6.76) and sixth from Roman Turner (6.77). Jacob McLeod, Gilbert Boit and Ryan Murphy, who helped the Razorbacks score 27 points in the 5,000 on Friday, went 6-7-8 in the 3,000.
Eight of the SEC teams Arkansas beat are ranked in the top 25 nationally.
“We tried to win [some individual titles], but the way we built our lineup, it just didn’t happen in a conference that’s crazy good,” Bucknam said. “Our goal was to win the team championship for the SEC, which is the best conference in the country. That meant more to us than any individual titles.”