SEC Championships await an improved Missouri indoor track team

As the regular season comes to a close, The Tigers greet eight nationally-ranked squads in Fayetteville.

After participating in five meets during the shortened 2021 season, the Missouri indoor track and field team will make its third trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas for the SEC Indoor Championships February 25-27.

This will be the 10th time the Razorbacks have hosted the event and the 64th overall SEC indoor track and field championship.

A strong field awaits the Tigers at the Randal Tyson Track Center, a now-familiar venue after their prior trips.

Arkansas is the defending conference champion on both the men’s and women’s side, and the Razorbacks are the favorites to repeat. Their men’s team ranks second in the country overall, while the women rank first following outstanding regular seasons. Arkansas holds 43 finishing times that rank top-ten nationally in their respective events.

There are plenty of challengers to the Razorbacks’ crown. LSU, Texas A&M, Florida, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Alabama and Tennessee are all nationally ranked on the men’s and women’s side and will be competing this weekend.

Missouri has not won the SEC Championship since joining the SEC in 2012, but the men posted their best finish to date (seventh out of 13) in 2020, while the women consistently crack the top ten. The Tigers are looking to continue this upward trend following a strong regular season in which multiple athletes ranked nationally in their respective events and qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships.

In the track events, Missouri will count on a couple of their top performers to hang with some of the top runners in the country. Senior Jayson Ashford ranks 10th in the SEC in the 200-meter dash with a best of 21:07, while fellow senior Chris Conrad is tied for second in the 800-meter with a time of 1:48:45. With that time, Conrad is currently qualified for the NCAA Championships set to take place on March 11-13.

Conrad has been a great story this season in a rebound year.

“Chris Conrad returned after medical reasons sidelined him for much of last season and has been posting high-level performances,” coach Brett Halter said. “It speaks to his perseverance and diligence.”

Conrad and Ashford will be counted on to lead the Tigers in their respective events in Fayetteville, as their success is pivotal to a strong showing for the men’s side.

Senior Sarah Chapman holds the highest ranking on the women’s side after her personal best of 9:20:25 at the Music City Challenge gave her the 12th best time in the 3000-meter run.

As a whole, Missouri’s track team set twelve personal bests at the Music City Challenge, their previous meet, providing them with plenty of momentum moving into postseason competition.

The Tigers had a week off to rest and prepare for a three-day event. The track and field championships will start Thursday with the distance medley relay. Friday will follow with the semifinals for all events, with Saturday holding the finals.

Edited by Jack Soble |

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