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Arkansas Claims Ninth SEC Title

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Arkansas Claims Ninth SEC Title
BATON ROUGE, La. – The echoes of “Wooo, Pig Sooie!” rang throughout the Bernie Moore Track Stadium as Arkansas scored 128 points on the final day of the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships to claim its ninth conference title. The outdoor title also completes the Hogs’ 15th conference triple crown.

“It is just great,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “It is such a great conference and to be able to do it nine times in a row is really amazing. Begley not being here was worth a lot of points, and we had a few injuries like Jason Ward, who twisted his ankle.

“The great thing about all it is the great Arkansas tradition,” McDonnell said. “The young kids came up big in the triple jump and made up the slack.”

Senior James Karanu took over where Arkansas great Seneca Lassiter left off in 1999 by winning the 800-meter and the 1500-meter within 45 minutes each other.

“It is a great feeling to win both this being my last outdoor SEC as a Hog,” Karanu said. “This was something that I wanted to leave them with so that they could be proud of me and say ‘One time James did this…’ I really wanted to do that for them as the last season for me.”

The 800-meter race was in typical Karanu style, with the Kenyan staying in the pack for the first lap and having a late charge that tracks down the fastest runners.

“The plan was to go 57 seconds in the first lap, but I ran a 54, which was really good for me,” Karanu said. “My legs were really tired. I knew that I had them when I heard I was at 54, because I was just relaxing. In the last lap I knew that I had enough to catch them. It was a good race for me.”

The 1500 meter race was loaded with four Razorbacks that have already qualified for nationals in Durham, N.C. Karanu was the winner by eight hundredths of a second with Ryan Travis a close second. Sharif Karie placed third two hundredths behind Travis. Murray Link placed fifth. All together the Hogs scored 28 points in the event.

“The last lap was really hard for me, because I’m not used to taking the lead,” Karanu said. “I am more of a chaser. I wanted to qualify automatically that is why I took off so fast. The plan was for (Ryan) Travis to take the first lap, I would take the second leg and Sharif (Karie) would take the third one, then whoever is the strongest take the last 300 meters.

McDonnell showed his praises for the Karanu’s winning two races.

“His double was awesome,” McDonnell said. “My estimation would be that it was the best of the meet for us. In that amount of time to come out and run a 3:41, which is equal to a 3:58 mile and then come back and run a 1:47 is pretty tough. What is really important is that he has the heart. He has a toughness makes him a champion.”

Samuel Glover doubled up in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles and the 4×400-meter relay claiming victories in both.

Glover automatically qualified for nationals while also taking the fourth spot in the nation in the 400-meter hurdles.

“Going in I wanted to get quicker in my first 200 meters so that I could be in the race,” Glover said. “Then I wanted to stretch it out a little bit then kick the last 150 meters. When I past the guy from Florida it was over.

“What happened was I had a little hostility coming into the race, because he looked back at me in the prelims and jogged in and showboated a little bit,” Glover said. “So I came in and just wanted to destroy him basically.”

McDonnell was also impressed with Glover’s performance.

“What Samuel Glover did was beautiful,” McDonnell said. “He really stepped up and proved himself in the hurdles.”

In the 4×400-meter relay; the Razorbacks came into the race as the 12th best team in the nation. Their first place performance puts them now at the No. 1 spot on the national list. When the gun sounded, Glover ran the opening leg finishing in second place at the first hand off.

“We switched the line up,” Glover said. “Last week, Melvin led it off and he ran a 44 low or mid. Then there was no one around me so I ran a 46 something. We decided to switch it up because I run better at the start. I just wanted to pass the guys in front of me. I knew that LSU and Florida were behind me. I just wanted to take the lead and be in a good position at the 300 meter mark to give it all I had.”

Glover handed the baton to Ryan Stanley who ran a strong second leg to give the lead to Melvin Lister.

“The guy from LSU was out in front of me a little bit,” Stanley said. “I knew that he was a 200-meter guy, so I thought that he would take it out pretty fast. I wanted to get out fast because I knew that with my 800-meter strength I could finish the race. So I tired to take him early and just hold on from there and try to give Kevin (Baker) the lead.

“I really wanted to get that automatic qualifier for the team in this relay,” Stanley said. “Now I can go to a last chance meet and concentrate on the 800m and try to qualify.”

Kevin Baker, a freshman, ran the final leg in 45.8 to give the Hogs 10 points boosting them to 171 points and the victory.

Other big performances came from the triple jump as the Razorbacks scored 18 points with four people. Lister placed second, Enrico Gordon scored five points with a fourth place finish, Ramon Washington placed fifth and Richard Smith claimed eighth.

Junior Kenny Evans placed second in the high jump leaping seven foot three inches. Baker, who ran on the 4×400- meter relay, placed fifth in the 400 meter run.

The 5000-meter run was considered a fun run for the Hogs as they had already clinched the team trophy. Adam Dailey, the 2000 SEC 10,000-meter champion, lead the charge for the Razorbacks placing third. Freshman Daniel Lincoln placed fourth and Ryan Travis finished in fifth. All together the Hogs claimed 15 points in the late race.

The Arkansas hurdlers picked up eight points with D’Marcus Brown placing fifth.

The Hogs will begin preparations for a last chance meet to take place in May 20. –HOGS–



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