Arkansas Needs Perfection to Capture SEC Title
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Razorbacks are looking to reclaim their Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championship title as they travel to Starkville, Miss., on May 9-12. Arkansas will face tough competition from other league schools such as top-ranked Tennessee and Louisiana State University.
“Our task is going to be pretty tough,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “Tennessee is pretty much loaded, but they’re not unbeatable. For us to win the team title, we’ll have to be nothing short of perfect. It’s very hard to have a perfect meet. There have been a couple in my 29-year career, but not many. We’d have to be perfect to beat Tennessee and then LSU is close behind them. It will be very tough for us. We’re going down there to win it. I don’t want to go out second; we’re going for first.”
Arkansas will depend on their arsenal of distance runners to earn as many points as possible at the meet. Sophomores Westley Alkin, Alistair Cragg, juniors Silverus Kimeli, Daniel Lincoln, Patrick Thomas and freshman Jason Sandfort are set to compete in the 10,000 meters. Two weeks ago Sandfort won the 10,000-meter title at the Penn Relays. All six of them will also run in the 5,000 meters. Earlier this season Cragg set a new UA school record in the 5,000 meters with a time of 13:22.07. Alkin and Lincoln are representing Arkansas in the 3,000-meter steeplechase as well. At the McDonnell Invitational Lincoln ran the fastest steeplechase time by an American this year with a time of 8:29.16.
Arkansas is bringing a loaded field of six runners into the 1,500 meters with freshman James Hatch, Michael Taylor, sophomores Kyle Cleveland, Cragg, Chris Mulvaney and junior Chad Grundy. Seven Razorbacks that include freshmen Said Ahmed, Hatch, Taylor, sophomores Kyle Cleveland, Robbie Stevens, Mulvaney and senior Andrew Beasley will run in the 800 meters.
Two relay teams are competing in Starkville. The 4×100-meter relay team includes senior Sam Glover, junior Eddie Jackson, sophomore Michael Thomas and freshman Ahmad Carroll. Glover and Jackson will also run in the 4×400-meter relay with sophomores Josh Landreth and Robbie Stevens. Glover and Landreth will again see competition in the 400-meter hurdles, while Jackson and Thomas are running in the 110-meter hurdles. Carroll is Arkansas’ representative in the 100-meter dash.
Seven Razorbacks will participate in the field events. Junior Josh Roberts and sophomore P.J. Brown will pole vault. Freshman Jonathan Reeves will double up in the shot put and discus. Sophomores Maurice Robinson, Ramone Washington and junior Richard Smith are in the triple jump, while Smith and Washington will also compete in the long jump. Freshman Matt Rosebery is set to represent Arkansas in the high jump.
The SEC Outdoor Championships begin on Thursday, May 9 with the decathlon at 4 p.m. Arkansas will begin competition on Friday, May 10 with the 800 meters at 7:15 p.m.
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