Arkansas Comes Away with Three NCAA Qualifiers
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The second day of the Razorback Invitational proved to be successful as No. 1 ranked Arkansas tallied two new NCAA provisional qualifiers and one improved provisional time at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
“It was still a good meet with good performances,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “(Maurice) Bridges has improved tremendously from last year and James (Hatch) ran very good in the 800. James has moved forward quickly and still can do better. Mike Poe and Jason Sandfort ran a good race. That meant a lot to them, because they’re going to run in the 5,000 and that gives them increased confidence. We can build from this and it shows we have good depth for conference.”
In the 400-meter dash senior Maurice Bridges surpassed his career-best by almost a full second and was able to gain an NCAA provisional qualifying time when he ran 47.16. Additionally, his performance was good enough to capture first place in the event. Junior Chason Pompey was also in the race and came in sixth with a career-best 48.71.
The 800-meter run had three Razorbacks entered, but junior James Hatch was the only one who came away with a provisional qualifying time when he ran 1:49.20 to finish third. Freshman Ryan Botha was fifth (1:50.54) and sophomore David Wittenmyer was 11th with a career-best time of 1:53.90.
Senior Michael Thomas started the meet off in the 60-meter hurdles with a provisional time of 7.92 in the prelims. Then in the finals he improved his time to 7.76 to grab second place.
In the mile run freshman Mike Poe and junior Jason Sandfort both turned in career-best times. Poe garnered runner-up honors with his performance of 4:04.95 and was just five hundredths of a second from provisionally qualifying for the national championships. As a prep star at Etiwanda High School in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., his best time was 4:12. Sandfort crossed the line right behind in third with a 4:05.86, while his previous best was a 4:13.37 run a year ago at the Missouri Southern Invitational. Also in the mile was junior Said Ahmed who came in sixth (4:07.87) and sophomore Matt Gunn was unable to finish the race when he fell after the first turn.
The UA polevaulters swept the top two spots when senior P.J. Brown cleared a height of 16-4.75 for the victory. Junior Jimmy Duke vaulted a height of 15-11.00 for runner-up accolades.
Two Razorbacks competed in the 3,000 meters. Freshman Adam Perkins turned in a time of 8:21.58 for sixth and sophomore transfer Eric Gross finished 11th (8:41.57).
In the prelims of the 60-meter dash Thomas and freshman Creighton Kiper both advanced to the finals as they turned in times of 6.92 and 6.98, respectively. Of the two, Kiper was the only one who lined up in the finals and he came in sixth (7.05).
The 4×400-meter relay wrapped up the meet as the Arkansas team of Pompey, Wittenmyer and freshmen Ryan Botha and Kiper put together a time of 3:17.95.
Next on the schedule for Arkansas will be a pair of road meets as the Razorbacks travel to the Boston Indoor Games on Feb. 1, and the Meyo Invitational in South Bend, Ind., on Feb. 6-7.
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