Struggles in preliminary races hurt Missouri track & field at the SEC Indoor Championships

Both teams finished outside the top 10 at the meet last weekend.

The SEC Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas, didn’t go how Missouri planned, with both the men’s and women’s teams finishing without any wins.

The team struggled in the preliminary races and faced stacked competition that the Tigers didn’t have the talent to match up with.

The men’s team was heavily relying on the 800-meter race, with three Missouri runners competing. Senior Chris Conrad, who came off of a win at the Music City Challenge a few weeks back, fell short of qualifying for the final with a time of 1:50.86 in the preliminary race.

Freshman Angus Beer finished right behind him, and sophomore Jonathan Schmidt in the second heat was unable to qualify as well.

Schmidt started off well but lost some speed towards the end of the race, slowly crossing the finish line near the end of the pack. He bent down with his hands on his knees right after finishing, breathing heavily after trying to keep up with the competition.

All three of them failing to qualify was a massive hit to the number of points the men’s team could get. The men’s team finished in 12th, a drop from its seventh-place finish last year.

Another hit for the men’s team was senior Jayson Ashford not participating in the meet due to injury. He’s been dominant with multiple wins in the 200-meter race this season.

Senior Ja’Mari Ward placed fifth in the long jump with a mark of 7.93 meters. That’s a mark that would have been enough to win in multiple meets earlier in the season, but not at this one. A foul on his first jump didn’t help him either, but a nice recovery got him top 5.

It may not have mattered, though. LSU senior JuVaughn Harrison put up an incredible mark of 8.33 meters, which was a meet record. That left most of the competition in shock through the rest of the event.

Most of these finishes weren’t necessarily ‘bad.’ Missouri had plenty of personal records at the meet, but that wasn’t enough compared to the competition they were facing.

"I thought the athletes we lined up did a remarkable job. This is a world-class track and field meet,” coach Brett Halter said. “In an Olympic year, it's going to be one of the best meets in the world. It's exciting to see some of the performances. We've got a lot of work to do and we're looking forward to the NCAA Championships and outdoor season."

All that is left for the indoor track and field season is the NCAA Indoor Championships, which will also be in Fayetteville. The Tigers will have four athletes heading there: Chris Conrad, Ja’Mari Ward, and juniors Georgi Nachev and Arianna Fisher.

Edited by Jack Soble | jsoble@themaneater.com

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