The University of Arkansas' Randal Tyson Track Center proudly claims itself as the fastest track in the world. Judging by this weekend's results, that's tough to argue with.
Thousands of fans, family members, spectators, and officials flocked to the 2023 Arkansas High School Indoor State Championship on Saturday, February 18th, to watch over 1,500 high school athletes from around the state compete in their final - and for many, their only - indoor meet of the season. Boys and girls from a mix of all Arkansas classifications competed against one another in fourteen track and field events. Only a few medaled, but personal bests came aplenty.
2023 ARKANSAS INDOOR STATE MEET
With the meet now fully in the books, let's
peek back at a handful of bright moments from the day in the boys' events.
Bells and Whistles
They may not be related, but Nick and Braeden Bell share two things in common: a last name and explosive speed. In heat 16 of the 60m dash, White Hall junior Braeden Bell drew wows from the crowd with his time of 6.96, good for #1 in 5A and #1 overall. In the 17th and final heat, Bentonville West senior Nick Bell burst out to a time of 6.98, which was first in 6A and #2 overall. Those were the only two sub-seven-second times in the event.
DeWitt Reaches New Heights
Coming into the weekend as a heavy favorite in the pole vault, Bentonville West senior Cade DeWitt only needed to get close to his personal best of 16-4.75 to win. Instead, he cleared a height of 16-6, which both upped his previous best and catapulted him to a tie for #6 in the nation this indoor season.
Elite High Jumps
Joining DeWitt among those atop national lists were three finishers in the high jump. Rogers senior JJ Lockett (#2 in 6A) and Farmington senior Josh Blakley (#1 in 4A) each cleared 6-6, tied for #33 in the nation. Fayetteville junior Cooper Williams did not match his nation-leading leap of 6-11.5, but his clearance of 6-7 was still good enough for #1 in 6A and #1 overall on the day.
Bet on Betts
In a fiercely competitive 1600m race, Fayetteville senior Hudson Betts bided his time, riding the pace of fellow runners Sam Boyer of Rogers Heritage and Dawson Welch of Har-Ber before kicking down the stretch and pulling away at the end. Betts' 4:14.34, which was #1 in 6A and #1 overall, also elevates him to #21 nationally in the event. Boyer and Welch, meanwhile, finished with respective times of 4:16.43 and 4:17.62, each also Top 50 in the country. In the 3200m run, Betts cruised to a much more spacious overall victory, crossing the line in 9:13.39, now #24 in the nation.
The boys' 200m dash promised to be one of the best races of the day, and it did not disappoint. Ft. Smith Northside senior Damari Smith, the presumed favorite, finished in 21.88, which won the 6A division, but he was outmaneuvered by Sheridan senior Aaron Webb, who won the heat and the 5A division in a time of 21.81. Webb's mark ties him for #37 in the nation while Smith's lands him at #48.
Three men doubled as class victors in the mile events. Senior Tate Stacks of 1A/2A Quitman won the 1600m in 4:43.52 and the 3200m in 10:39.25. Senior Matthew Dunsworth of 4A Clarksville won the 1600m in 4:30.68 and the 3200m in 9:56.18. The aforementioned Hudson Betts of 6A Fayetteville was the third to double up in these races. Junior Kaleb Eskew of 3A Jessieville captured a similar double of his own, claiming victories in the 800m (2:13.67) and the mile (4:58.53).
Honoring Harold Valentine
The meet concluded with both team awards and the inaugural Harold Valentine Outstanding Award. This special award, which honors one male and one female athlete who achieve excellence in the meet, was created in honor of Harold Valentine, a beloved and longtime member the Arkansas track and field community who passed away in October 2022. The award was given to Fayetteville's Hudson Betts for his 1600m and 3200m performances.