Photographs by Andy Shupe
Arkansas' Obi Igbokwe competes in the 4x400-meter relay Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, during the Tyson Invitational in the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
FAYETTEVILLE -- Despite the unfathomably rich history of University of Arkansas men's track and field, only one Razorback has won the SEC Indoor 400-meter dash. And only one Razorback has won the NCAA Indoor 400-meter dash.
Obi Igbokwe aims to make it two. At the SEC Indoor meet on Feb. 24-25 in College Station, Texas, the junior Razorback from The Woodlands, Texas, aspires to win the 400 that only former U.S Olympian Calvin Davis has won for Arkansas, twice in 1993 and 1994.
Again at College Station on March 9-10, Igbokwe craves the NCAA Indoor Championship 400 that only Davis (1994) won for Arkansas.
"I went into the season with a national title in mind," Igbokwe said. "And I don't see anyone in front of me. I can't accept losing it this year. I want to step up for my team. We all have to step up individually. I want to be a national champion."
The individual 400-meter title and to be a part of a 4 x 400 relay title and contribute to team conference and national championships all lodge places in Igbokwe's ambitions.
And why not? After all nationally No. 5 Arkansas reigns as SEC Indoor champion and has improved, Igbokwe asserts.
"The talent on this team ... if we all come together on the same day we can do great things," Igbokwe said.
Igbokwe is a six-time All-American third in last year's SEC Indoor and member of an Arkansas 4 x 400 relay that ran fourth at the SEC Indoor, third at the NCAA Indoor and in the NCAA Outdoor took second running a Razorbacks record 3:01.84.
Even with third leg runner Jamarco Stephen at Tyson pulling away too soon as Igbokwe finished the second leg to receive a "three seconds" delayed exchange, Arkansas sprints coach Doug Case said, Case added that Arkansas' 4 x 400 last Saturday "ran a 3:05 that ranks us eighth even with a horrible exchange."
"We can run really fast and we're going to run really fast," Case said. "We just have to get the stick around cleanly."
Igbokwe is a major cog in Arkansas' 4 x 400 machine and a major individual spoke in the total wheel. He was the 2018 collegiate 400 leader clocking a personal record 45.72 during Arkansas' Jan. 26-27 Razorback Invitational and bettered that blistering a 45.38.
Last weekend in Clemson, S.C., Auburn's Akeem Bloomfield, obviously an SEC and NCAA contender, ran 45.02 seconds to Southern California's Michael Norman, 45.0, for the nationally leading times dropping Igbokwe to third.
Igbokwe and Case concede nothing.
"I don't feel my body is peaking yet," Igbokwe said. "The coaches do a good job of peaking us for championships. So I feel I'm on a very smooth trajectory."
Case makes a case that Igbokwe runs on course increasingly to run smoother and speedier.
"Obi can go faster," Case said. "That wasn't a perfect race and with his training, he is going to get better as the weeks go on."
Sports on 02/14/2018
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