BELGRADE, Serbia – Three medals were collected by athletes with ties to the Arkansas Razorbacks program among the five who were part of finals at the World Athletics Indoor Championships on Saturday in Stark Arena.
Arkansas alum Sandi Morris and Tina Sutej finished as gold and bronze medalists, respectively, in the pole vault while Razorback volunteer Ryan Crouser was a silver medalist in the shot put.
Current Arkansas hurdler Yoveinny Mota improved her Venezuelan national record in the 60m hurdles twice on the way to placing fifth in the final. Razorback alum Marqueze Washington finished sixth in the 400m.
“It’s really amazing,” stated Morris, the 2018 World Indoor champion. “Being at this level for so many years is so difficult to do. Just going out there focusing one jump at a time was my goal today, one bar at a time, brick by brick.
“To be able to take that title, it really means so much to me. After a year like last year when I was injured for the Olympics you feel you have to re-prove yourself. We’re so hard on ourselves and I wanted to go out and prove it to myself that I could still do it at this level.”
Morris, who set the World Indoor meet record of 16-2.75 (4.95) in 2018, didn’t lead the competition until she was the lone vaulter to make 15-9 (4.80). Katie Nageotte, the Tokyo Olympics gold medalist, was clean with no misses through four heights until 15-9, and earned the silver medal with a 15-7 (4.75) clearance.
Sutej cleared 15-7 for bronze after getting over 15-5 (4.70) on her third attempt. Sutej had cleared 15-9 a couple of weeks ago to improve her Slovenian national record. Last season Sutej was the silver medalist at the European Indoor and finished fifth in the Tokyo Olympics.
“It was great to improve a lot technically, even if nothing was changed cardinally in my preparation,” said Sutej, who was a crowd favorite. “We just continued to follow the way we started a few years ago.
“The very important thing is that I became much stronger mentally and much more competitive on the world level. I’m not the youngest athlete in our field anymore. I already have three Olympics and numbers of European and World championships on the list of my performances, but I still don’t have so many medals in my collections.
“I had a lot of motivation for tonight and this achievement will motivate me to continue on the highest level, even until 2024. Now I’m aiming to get ready for the summer Worlds and Europeans and I hope my shape will be even better than now.”
Needing two attempts at 15-1 (4.60) kept Morris behind training partner Nageotte. But a third attempt make at 15-9 moved her into the gold medal position. Morris then attempted 16-0.75 (4.90) but missed all three tries.
“Today was about me fighting off my own internal demons,” noted Morris. “Doing it back-to-back, four years apart, was amazing and doing it with my teammate and now training partner Katie was really special. It gives me goose bumps thinking about it. We’re going to go back and forth for the next few years. It’s going to be so much fun.
“I was disappointed I didn’t have 4.90m in me today. I went for it, but my energy wasn’t there after I knew I’d won.”
Competing in his first World Indoor Championships, Crouser promptly bettered the meet record with his first attempt. It reached a distance of 73-7.5 (22.44) to surpass the mark of 73-2.5 (22.31) established by two-time defending champion Tomas Walsh of New Zealand.
In the third round, though, Crouser’s mark was passed by a 73-11 (22.53) put from Brazil’s Darian Romani, who moved to fourth on the all-time world indoor list.
Romani finished with the world-leading mark for the 2022 indoor to earn gold while Crouser finished second and in third place was Walsh, who matched his winning mark from 2018.
Previously, Romani has finished fourth in the 2016 and 2018 World Indoor and was fourth outdoors at the 2019 World Champs as well as the Tokyo Olympics.
Crouser’s series included: 73-7.5 (22.44), 70-8.5 (21.55), 71-8.75 (21.86), 73-2.75 (22.32), foul, 71-11.5 (21.93). It was his first loss since the 2019 World Outdoor Championships, which included 32 meets indoor and outdoor since. Counting just indoor competitions, it was the first loss for Crouser since the 2015 NCAA Indoor meet.
Competing in a gantlet of three races on the same day, Mota produced a pair of career best times to reach the final.
Racing at 9 a.m. in Serbia, Mota posted an 8.05 to place fourth in the third of six heats in the first round. Qualifying to the semifinal round included the top three finishers of each heat with the next six fastest times.
The 8.05 by Mota ranked 11th overall and improved her Venezuelan national record of 8.12 set earlier this indoor season. It also moved her equal No. 4 on the UA all-time list, matching the time by Taliyah Brooks.
The semifinal followed at 6:15 p.m. and Mota improved again, clocking a 7.99 to place third in the second of three heats and earned one of just a pair of time qualifiers to the final.
In addition to lowering her national record, Mota moved equal No. 3 on the UA all-time list with current teammate Daszay Freeman. Her 7.99, which is No. 2 all-time among South American hurdlers, ranked seventh among the field of 24 in the semifinal round.
Mota was stationed in lane 1 for the final, which was held at 9:08 p.m., and she finished fifth with another 8.05 clocking.
Cyrena Samba-Mayela of France won the race in a national record of 7.78 with Devynne Charlton of Bahamas second in a national record of 7.81 while Gabby Cunningham of the United States placed third in 7.87.
Also stationed in lane 1 for the 400m final, Razorback alum Washington finished sixth with a time of 46.85. Trinidad & Tobago’s Jereem Richards won the race in a championship record of 45.00 ahead of a 45.05 for American Trevor Bassitt and 45.33 by Sweden’s Carl Bengtstrom.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images for World Athletics
World Athletics Indoor Championships | Belgrade, Serbia | Schedule
Day 3 | Sunday, March 20
|4:45 am | 10:45 am||M High Jump||FINAL||Darryl Sullivan (USA)|
|5:35 am | 11:35 am||M 4×400 Relay||Heats||Marqueze Washington (USA)|
|1:55 pm | 7:55 pm||M 4×400 Relay||FINAL||[Marqueze Washington]|
|Sunday||4-7:15 a.m.||Peacock | STREAM LINK|
|10:45 a.m.-3 p.m.||Peacock | STREAM LINK|
|11 a.m.-2 p.m.||CNBC | STREAM LINK|