Arkansas Captures 4×800-meter Relay Title at T
BY ANDRES FOCIL
AUSTIN, Texas – Arkansas notched its first relay title for the weekend at the 77th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays when they claimed top honors in the 4×800-meter relay for the third-consecutive year. The Razorbacks put together a Mike A. Myers Stadium record time of 7:24.95, beating their own record of 7:25.14 from last year.
“I was really happy with the 4×800, because we haven’t done one step of speed work and I know some of the other teams we’re going up against have,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “We have a shot to win the outdoor national championship, so we have to prepare for that. I was really pleased with the way they ran. Sam did a great job and Chris Mulvaney ran a beautiful, practical ran. After indoors he needed that.”
Junior Michael Taylor took the first leg, but he got tripped up and almost fell in the first 200 meters. That moved him from the front of the pack to seventh place. On the second lap he asserted himself and retook the lead as he turned in a split of 1:51.7. Taylor handed off to freshman Sam Vazquez who posted a 1:49.6, the fastest split of the day. Vazquez scooted away from the rest of the 16-team field and extended UA’s lead to 40 meters.
Junior James Hatch handled the third leg and kept a sizable lead with a time of 1:52.6. Hatch passed the baton to senior Chris Mulvaney for anchor duties. Mulvaney maintained Arkansas’ lead, but on the last lap Kentucky’s David Freeman began to creep up. Mulvaney held on to the very end for the victory and posted a split of 1:51.0.
“It’s great to come back and defend our title,” Mulvaney said. “My three teammates gave me a nice lead and they did all the work for me really. I had an average leg. I started well and relaxed a little bit, but I had enough strength to finish the last 100 meters to hang on.”
Three Razorback athletes competed in the 400-meter hurdles, but senior Maurice Bridges was the only one who recorded an NCAA regional qualifying time (51.64) when he finished first in his heat to qualify for the finals on Saturday, April 3 at 12:15 p.m. Sophomore Brad Dittoe came close when he clocked a career-best 52.67 to come in 10th overall. Sophomore David Wittenmyer fell on the first hurdle, but still continued the race and turned in a time of 59.64.
The pole vault was the only field event action UA saw on Thursday. Junior P.J. Brown came away with a regional qualification when he cleared a height of 16-4.75 and tied for eighth place. Junior Jimmy Duke was unable to register a mark.
Arkansas will continue competition on Friday, April 2, with senior Michael Thomas in the 110-meter hurdles and freshman Creighton Kiper in the 100-meter dash starting off the day at 9:30 a.m. The Hogs will also take to the track in the open 1,500 meters and the sprint medley and 4×1,500-meter relays.
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