Arkansas Gains Four New Regional Qualifiers at
BY ANDRES FOCIL
AUSTIN, Texas – The No. 1 ranked Razorbacks wrapped up competition on Saturday at the 78th annual Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays at Mike A. Myers Stadium and came away with four new NCAA regional qualifiers, with three coming from the field events alone. Unfortunately, they were unable to pick up any additional first-place relay trophies to go along with their 4×1,500-meter title from Friday night.
“The field events were great today,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “They all had good opening meets. I was also happy with the 3:04 from the relay. This weekend some good things happened and some not so good things happened. We have a long way to go, but we have plenty of time to get there. I’m not worried about this team.”
The Cleburne Price Jr., Invitational 4×400-meter relay concluded the meet and Arkansas had a loaded team coming into the event. The Hogs finished in third place and recorded a regional qualifying time of 3:04.86. Florida claimed the title with a time of 3:02.47 and Arizona State was second (3:02.77). It was the fastest time an Arkansas team had put together since 2000 when Melvin Lister, Sam Glover, Ryan Stanley and Kevin Baker set the school record with a 3:02.02 at the NCAA Championships. Today’s performance places the Razorbacks at fifth on UA’s all-time outdoor top 10 list.
Senior All-American Omar Brown ran the opening leg with a split of 46.2 and handed off to senior NCAA 100-meter champion Tyson Gay. It was Gay’s first competition since he injured his hamstring at the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 11. Gay clocked 45.9 and pulled the team to third place, but an awkward handoff to sophomore two-time NCAA champion Wallace Spearmon Jr. pushed the team back to sixth. Spearmon powered his way towards third place with a time of 45.2 as he passed the stick to senior All-American Terry Gatson for the anchor. Gatson tried to catch Florida and Arizona State with a split of 45.2, but had too much ground to make up and crossed the line in third.
Junior All-American Eric Brown was the top collegiate finisher in the javelin when he recorded an NCAA regional qualifying mark of 236-10 for third place. Last year he claimed the Texas Relays title with a mark of 235-06 and was hoping to do the same in 2005. Brown encountered tough competition from 2003 NCAA champion and former Penn star Brian Chaput, who won with a throw of 259-00. Former Texas athlete, Tom Engwall, was competing unattached and was second with 245-11.
Senior All-American Jaanus Uudmae was the other Hog to gain the NCAA regional standard. He finished the triple jump in third place with a mark of 53-7.00. Southern California standout Allen Simms grabbed top honors with 54-8.25. Uudmae joins teammate and freshman Chessly Johnson as a triple jump regional qualifier.
In the high jump sophomore Greg Martin picked up a regional qualification as he cleared a height of 7-0.50 for eighth place, while senior Cory Oldham tied for ninth (6-6.75) in the B section.
Earlier in the day Arkansas was entering the distance medley relay as the defending champions and had high expectations to claim its’ fifth-straight title, but had to settle for second place (9:41.93). The Hogs had been winners of the DMR 11 out of the past 20 years, but Kansas pulled the upset with a time of 9:40.95.
Sophomore All-American Adam Perkins ran the first leg and took the lead for the team heading into the final home stretch of the 1,200 meters with a split time of 2:59.8. He handed off to Gatson who extended the lead with a fantastic 400-meter clocking of 46.5. Gatson passed the baton to junior Harun Iman who tried to maintain UA’s lead, but after the second lap Iman slipped to second with a split of 1:52.4. As he gave the stick to senior All-American Said Ahmed the team had fallen back to fourth place. Ahmed battled his way to the front with 400 meters remaining and in the end recorded a split time of 4:03.2, but Kansas made its move at the 200-meter mark and took the lead for good.
The Jerry Thompson Invitational mile run had two Hogs entered. Freshman Shawn Forrest and senior Jason Sandfort earned second (4:17.41) and third place (4:18.27), respectively. Forrest was in the lead with one lap left, but Texas’ Leonel Manzano out-kicked the Melbourne, Australia native with 200 meters remaining to take the tape (4:15.28).
When the Razorbacks return from Austin, Texas they will have a short week before they travel to Walnut, Calif., for the Mt. SAC Relays on April 15-16. The John McDonnell Invitational on April 23 will be the only time Arkansas competes at home.
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