Arkansas Looks for No. 38 at NCAA Outdoor Cham
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Razorbacks will be in search of their 38th national championship when they send 13 athletes to compete in 10 different events at the 2003 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, Calif., on June 11-14.
With the last outdoor crown coming in 1999 the No. 1 ranked Hogs are ready to return to the top of the podium to claim their 10th outdoor national title.
“We have 13 athletes going and we’ve had more before,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “Numbers don’t really make the difference. Auburn is tied with us and they only have nine guys going. It’s quality that makes a difference. We’ve got some quality, but it will be tough on those distance runners in the heat. But we can’t do anything about that. We just have to line up and see what we can do.”
Senior Daniel Lincoln, junior Alistair Cragg and sophomore Ahmad Carroll are all going the extra mile as they double in their respective events.
“The two big horses are Alistair and Daniel,” McDonnell said. “They’ve got one heavy-duty weekend ahead of them. They both wanted to double. They asked me if we could win without them doubling and I said we probably might, but doubling would put us in a much better position. They said ‘That’s what we’ll do, we want to win.'”
Two-time NCAA champion Lincoln is set to defend his title again. Winning the steeplechase race would make him the first American to win the event three years in a row. Lincoln earned his nation-leading time of 8:29.57 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 17.
He will also compete in the 10,000 meters. Lincoln provisionally qualified in the event at the SEC Championships when he posted a time of 29:16.27.
Joining Lincoln in the 10K is Cragg. Cragg won the event at the SEC Championships with a meet record and automatic qualifying time of 28:42.73. His time is currently ninth in the nation, but he is still considered a top contender in the race.
Cragg is also taking to the track in the 5,000-meter run, where he leads the country with a time of 13:25.59, that he registered at the Mt. SAC Relays. He is the two-time NCAA indoor 5,000 champion and also won the race in record time at SEC outdoors.
Carroll gained an automatic entry in the 200 when he crossed the line in third with a time of 20.91 at the Mideast Regionals. Carroll’s career-best time of 10.28 in the 100-meter dash was not good enough to finish in the top five, but earned him an at-large bid for the NCAA Championships.
Junior Michael Thomas took the tape in the 110-meter hurdles (13.57) at the regional contest in poor weather conditions and gained an automatic qualification. His season-best time of 13.50 is sixth in the country.
Junior transfer Maurice Bridges received an at-large bid in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 50.63 he ran at the SEC Championships.
Junior Robbie Stevens will be UA’s lone runner in the loaded 800, with a seed time of 1:46.62 he gained at the conference championships. His time is currently second in the nation, behind Tennessee’s Marc Sylvester’s 1:46.56. Stevens was unable to compete in the finals at regionals due to an injury and was given an at-large bid with his time.
The 1,500-meter run is full of talented Razorback athletes. Sophomore James Hatch has the top time (3:41.76) he ran at the McDonnell Invitational that is third in the nation. Hatch guaranteed his spot when he came in fourth at the Mideast Regionals. Junior Chris Mulvaney is right behind with the fourth fastest time of 3:42.31 he posted at SEC’s. Mulvaney earned an at-large bid when an injury prevented him from competing in the finals at the regional championships.
Sophomores Michael Taylor and Said Ahmed also earned automatic qualifications with their second and third place finishes at regionals, respectively. Ahmed’s time of 3:42.72 from the league meet is seventh in the country, while Taylor’s 3:42.89 from the McDonnell Invitational is 11th.
In the long jump junior Ramon Washington was given an at-large spot with the mark of 26-0.75 he earned at the McDonnell Invitational.
The triple jump has two Razorbacks seeing competition. Senior Richard Smith is coming into the meet with the eighth best mark in the U.S. (54-1.25), that he registered at the NCAA Mideast Championships while coming in first.
Sophomore transfer Jaanus Uudmae also automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships after he finished fifth at regionals with a leap of 52-11.50. His mark is 14th in the nation.
The first day of competition on Wednesday will begin with the prelims of the 100-meter dash at 10:45 a.m., and the prelims of the 5,000-meter run ending the night at 10 p.m.
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