Arkansas Enters 10 Athletes and 2 Relays for N
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Top-ranked Arkansas will enter a very strong team at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships this weekend. A total of 10 athletes and two relays are slated to compete at the Randal Tyson Track Center on March 11-12, the most of any program.
“We have the right people in, but there’s not a lot of room for error with Florida, Michigan and Indiana being as tough as they are,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “We have to go out and give 100 percent and see where the chips fall. I think our guys are ready to run.”
This marks the sixth-straight year Arkansas has hosted the NCAA Championships. The women’s 800 meters is the first running event on Friday and is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. The men’s 800 will follow at 4:45 p.m. The men’s DMR will wrap up the day at 9:30 p.m. On Saturday the UA men will begin the day with the triple jump at 5:45 p.m. and the 4×400-meter relay will conclude the championships at 8:20 p.m.
A pair of Hogs boast the nation’s top times in their respective events, including national champions junior Tyson Gay (60) and sophomore Wallace Spearmon Jr. (200). Gay earned his automatic time of 6.55 in the 60-meter dash at the Tyson Invitational and it has been his only race of the year. At the 2004 NCAA meet he came in fourth place with a split of 6.63.
Spearmon posted his world-leading auto time in the 200 at the SEC Championships when he recorded a 20.35. Spearmon has had an outstanding indoor season and will look for a better finish after crossing the line in eighth last year.
Senior Omar Brown will join Spearmon in the 200 after he gained a new automatic time of 20.79 over the weekend at Iowa State’s Last Chance Meet. This will be Brown’s first indoor national competition since he became a Razorback and his time is currently eighth in the nation.
The 400 meters has senior All-American Terry Gatson set to take to the track. Gatson has been running very well and his provisional time of 46.29 has him at seventh in the country. That season-best performance was earned in the prelims of the SEC Championships.
Senior James Hatch just made the cut in the 800 meters with his provisional time of 1:48.24. The two-time All-American is 16th on the descending order list after he ran his qualifying standard at the Armory Collegiate Invitational on Feb. 5.
After registering a career-best mile time of 3:57.04 this past Saturday at a Last Chance Meet, junior three-time All-American Said Ahmed jumped from a provisional qualifier (4:01.05) to having the nation’s second-best time. Indiana’s Sean Jefferson is at the top with a time of 3:56.44.
The 3,000 meters offers a double threat with sophomores Peter Kosgei and Adam Perkins. Kosgei hit the exact automatic qualifying standard of 7:56.00 at the SEC Championships, while Perkins recently turned in a solid provisional run of 7:56.22 at Iowa State. They sit at 12th and 13th, respectively on the descending order list.
Kosgei will also represent Arkansas in the 5,000 meters, with junior Josphat Boit. Both have automatic times they earned at the Tyson Invitational. Kosgei’s time of 13:42.67 has him at fifth in the NCAA and Boit’s time of 13:50.62 is ninth.
Senior All-American Jaanus Uudmae is UA’s only field athlete entered into the meet. He will compete in the triple jump with his auto mark he recorded at the Tyson Invitational. He leapt his way to a measurement of 53-10.50 that is currently third in the nation.
For the first time in 18 years Arkansas will have two relays on display at nationals. The distance medley relay of Perkins, Gatson, Hatch and Ahmed carries the country’s second-fastest time of 9:9:29.25 from the Tyson Invitational. Defending NCAA champion Michigan has the top time of 9:28.12.
The 4×400-meter relay of Brown, Wittenmyer, Gatson and Spearmon also picked up their auto time of 3:06.09 at the Tyson Invitational. That performance placed them at eighth on the descending order list.
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