Chris Bailey SEC Co-Runner of the Week

BIRMINGHAM — A world-leading time of 45.09 seconds to win the 400m at the Razorback Invitational earned Arkansas senior Chris Bailey the SEC co-runner of the week, the conference bureau said Tuesday.

The world’s second-fastest 400-meter time for the 2023 indoor season currently stands at 45.91. Bailey is also the current world leader in the 600m with a run of 1:15.18 during the Arkansas Invitational.

By winning the Razorback Invitational in the 400m, Bailey broke both the Arkansas school record and the competition record. The previous UA record of 45.29 was set by Terry Gatson in 2005 as a silver medalist at the NCAA Championships. The previous competition record of 45.34 was set by Florida’s Najee Glass in 2015.

“Chris had a nice opener in the 400m last weekend,” said Chris Bucknam, Arkansas men’s head coach. “Thanks to him and his work ethic for how hard he’s worked all fall. He’s a phenomenal athlete and a great boy. Simply an outstanding, dedicated athlete who loves to compete.

“Hats to Coach Case for the amazing job he’s done to really take him to the next level. Chris is certainly on the next level now. He broke our school record, and our school records are not easy to break. It doesn’t happen very often with our rich history. It was a lot of fun and I’m very happy for him.”

As the tight 400-meter field neared the break to complete the first lap, Bailey patiently stayed in fourth place among four runners in the final leg. Then he made a strategic move and opted for the inner part of lane one.

The corner freed up space to overtake from the inside and Bailey took advantage to take the lead at the end of the curse. Then he took off dramatically from the field. Second behind Bailey in that segment was Ryan Willie of Florida in 46.46, who finished fourth overall.

“He’s a pretty nimble guy,” added Bucknam. “His racing mechanics are smooth and he is nice and stable. At that critical point there at the cut, he could slip and slide. The guy in front of him walked a little way out of lane one and Chris was able to sneak through there.

“I’m not sure the seas will part like that for him every time, but he has an incredible speed boost. We’re very confident that whatever the situation, he’ll be able to handle it. He’s taken a break from that, and a lot of it is just really smart running on his part.

For the month of January, Bailey’s time is the fastest ever from a college and the second-fastest ever when you include pros. The highest January time is 45.03 by Fred Kerley in 2021 at Randal Tyson Track Center. The previous college high of the month was a 45.29 from Texas A&M’s Bryce Deadmon in Lubbock in 2021.

Bailey improved on his previous indoor best of 47.81 from 2019 after not competing in the indoor open 400m in 2021 and 2022 while competing in 4 x 400 relays where he posted a 44.66 leg ( NCAA Indoor) and produced a 44.68 carry (SEC Indoor) in 2022.

In the Razorback Invitational, Bailey also delivered a 45.03 relay split on stage three, the fastest of the meet, after Arkansas’ 3:04.42 effort to finish fourth in a very close finish in the 4×400. The top four teams — Florida (3:04.11), USC (3:04.12), Baylor (3:04.37), Arkansas (3:04.42) — were separated by just 0.31 seconds.

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