Arkansas Finishes Second in DMR at Penn Relays
BY ANDRES FOCIL
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Arkansas faced a classic rematch with Michigan in the Penn Relays’ distance medley relay, but were unable to successfully defend its’ title as the Hogs finished second behind the Wolverines. UA registered a time of 9:28.79, while UM posted a 9:22.57.
“It’s been a good day, even though we didn’t win the DMR,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “Our guys gave it everything they had. We had a bad exchange and that cost us about two seconds. Then Said (Ahmed) tried to make it up against a world-class miler like Nick Willis. He hung with him as long as he could. Michigan is a great team, but I wish it would have been closer.”
Sophomore Adam Perkins ran the first leg in a split of 2:55.4, as he stayed on the shoulder of Michigan’s Nate Brennan and was in second as he passed the baton to junior Terry Gatson. Gatson turned in a solid time of 45.5, but had a poor exchange with senior James Hatch going into the third leg. Hatch recorded a split of 1:47.8, keeping Arkansas in the second-place position. Senior Said Ahmed took the stick for the anchor leg and tried to make up ground against Wolverine Nick Willis with a clocking of 4:00.1. On the bell lap Willis pulled away to create a significant lead and took the tape for the victory, while registering a 3:55.1 split.
Arkansas had won 15 DMR championships in the past 22 years. After UA won in 2002, Michigan battled back and won in 2003, before the Hogs reclaimed the title in 2004. The Razorbacks can now only look forward to 2006, when they will have the chance to bring the first-place trophy back to Fayetteville.
Arkansas’ sprinting crew excelled in the prelims of their relays as the 4×100-meter relay began the day for them. All handoffs went smoothly as freshman Michael Grant, senior Tyson Gay, sophomore Creighton Kiper and sophomore Wallace Spearmon Jr., put together a season-best time of 40.21. They easily won their heat and advanced to the finals on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The Hogs advanced to the finals with the fourth-fastest time overall. It was the first time Spearmon has anchored a 4×100-meter relay since the finals at the NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas.
A little over an hour later UA sent its 4×200-meter relay to the track. Senior Omar Brown, Gay, Gatson and Spearmon registered a time of 1:22.33. The Hogs had the second-fastest qualifying time and will look for an improved showing in the finals on Saturday at 2:50 p.m.
“Today was very good for our relays,” Arkansas sprints and hurdles coach Lance Brauman said. “We didn’t run extremely fast, because we were just trying to qualify. We wanted to get in the top three or four and that’s what happened. In the prelims you warm up half of what you should, because with so many teams in the paddocks you end up having to wait around for a long time. Tomorrow we’ll be better prepared and decide the lineup.”
In the individual events junior Tony Ugoh improved his regional qualification in the discus when he put up a mark of 172-01 for third place. It was also a new personal-best for the two-sport athlete after he threw 168-10 last weekend at the McDonnell Invitational.
Junior Brad Dittoe competed in the 400-meter hurdles and came away with a season-best time of 52.90 as he finished fourth in his heat.
In addition to the finals of the 4×100 and 4×200 on Saturday, the 4xmile and 4×800 will also take place. The Razorbacks will be gunning for their fourth-straight 4xmile title with Ahmed, junior Josphat Boit, sophomore Peter Kosgei and Perkins.
The 4×800-meter relay is made up of Wittenmyer, junior Harun Iman, sophomore Brian Roe and Hatch.
Field events contested on Saturday include the triple jump with senior Jaanus Uudmae and the javelin with junior Eric Brown.
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