Arkansas Gains Four New Regional Qualifiers; S
BY ANDRES FOCIL
WALNUT, Calif. – Second-ranked Arkansas had an excellent showing as most of its athletes took to the track during the final day of the Mt. SAC Relays on Sunday. The Razorbacks were able to tally four new NCAA regional qualifications at Hilmer Lodge Stadium under the pleasant California weather conditions.
The 200-meter dash was the highlight event for UA when freshman Wallace Spearmon registered an NCAA-leading time of 20.35 for second place in the invitational heat and the NCAA regional qualification. His performance placed him at fourth on UA’s all-time outdoor top 10 list and is just one hundredths of a second ahead of his father’s time of 20.36 recorded twenty years ago. Additionally, Spearmon’s time met the “B” standard for the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Sophomore Omar Brown also competed in the university/open division and took the tape in his heat with a regional time of 20.66. His performance also cracked UA’s all-time top 10 list and put him in the ninth position.
The 800-meter runners experienced success as well when junior James Hatch registered a career-best time of 1:47.95 and finished in a close second place in the university/open division. Hatch bettered his previous best time from the 2003 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championships by almost a full second and also met the Olympic Trials “B” standard. Junior Said Ahmed was next in third with a time of 1:48.78. The duo had already qualified for regionals at the McDonnell Invitational on April 10, but they were glad to see improved speed. Senior Chris Mulvaney was entered in the invitational section and finished fourth with another improved regional time of 1:48.85.
“Between the 1,500 meters last night and the 800 meters today, I’m very pleased,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “We really haven’t done that much speed work. The first time we stepped on the track was on Wednesday before they left. We had been working out on the grass until that point. Wallace Spearmon was something else, especially for a true freshman. His time is phenomenal and Omar ran well too.”
Arkansas’ 4×100-meter relay team claimed first place for the second-straight week when senior Michael Thomas, Spearmon, freshman Creighton Kiper and Brown put together a time of 39.86. Thomas also represented UA in the invitational 110-meter hurdles and improved his regional time to 13.65 for fifth place. He was just short of gaining the “A” standard (13.55) for the U.S. Olympic Trials.
In the 400-meter hurdles senior Maurice Bridges improved his regional qualifying time from 50.97 to 50.71 for fifth place overall. Sophomore Brad Dittoe gained a new qualifying time when he posted a time of 52.00 for runner-up honors in his section and 17th overall. Sophomore David Wittenmyer was also entered in the race and turned in a time of 54.15 for seventh place.
Having already earned a regional qualification sophomore Eric Brown was aiming for another high mark in the invitational javelin throw. Brown ended up throwing 229-00 for sixth place in a talented field of competitors. In other field events action junior Cory Oldham cleared 6-8.00 in the high jump Saturday evening and tied for eighth place.
The 1,500 meters also took place late Saturday night and two Hogs were able to pick up Arkansas’ first regional qualifying times in the event. Senior Chris Mulvaney earned runner-up honors in his section and finished fourth overall with a time of 3:41.33, while junior Said Ahmed crossed the line in seventh with a time of 3:43.42.
Sophomore Eric Gross just missed the qualifying standard of 3:48.21 when he posted a performance of 3:48.72 for sixth place in his respective section. Freshman Mike Poe was leading his section of the race, but was unable to finish after he was tripped and fell. Poe then competed in the mile run on Sunday afternoon, posting a time of 4:14.70 for ninth place.
After the Hogs return from California they will head to the east coast for the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, Pa., on April 22-24.
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