But while Iowa State had qualified for it, the Razorbacks hadn't. "If they get third place, we tie for the title," said Conley, standing nervously at trackside. "Better than third, they win; worse than third, we win." His face was bright with anticipation.
After just one leg of the race, Conley was gleeful. " Iowa State is out of it! Out of it! We win!" The Cyclones' leadoff runner, sophomore Elliott Hanna, had indeed fallen hopelessly behind. At the finish Iowa State was sixth. The Razorbacks were jubilant; even the British and Irish among them began doing pig cheers.
Then came a moment of fright. Three relay teams had been disqualified for lane violations and cutting off. "Which ones?" McDonnell asked anxiously. If all three had placed ahead of the Cyclones, the meet would end a tie.
But only two of the ousted relay teams (Southern Illinois and Alabama) had come in ahead of Iowa State. The Arkansas athletes, meet winners by 38-36, broke into a sooooo-eeey chant.
"It took 10 years off my life, you know," said McDonnell.
"This is what track and field is all about," said Conley with his biggest smile of the day.