Arkansas Racks up Auto Qualifiers at Powered b
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – On Saturday night at the Powered by Tyson Invitational, Arkansas continued to build its’ team for the indoor national championships as it earned four new NCAA automatic qualifiers. The Hogs capped off the evening by capturing the 4×400-meter relay title in a nation-leading and automatic time of 3:06.09. UA’s team of senior Omar Brown, junior David Wittenmyer, senior Terry Gatson and sophomore Wallace Spearmon Jr., put together the second-fastest time in school history.
“That relay was very special,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “Each of those kids ran their hearts out. It was a good way to end the night. All in all it was an outstanding meet for us.”
During the 5,000 meters sophomore transfer Peter Kosgei and junior cross country All-American Josphat Boit ran their way to auto times of 13:42.67 and 13:50.62, respectively, with former UA distance star and Olympian Alistair Cragg serving as a pacer.
“I’m very happy with those two automatic qualifiers,” McDonnell said. “Those are guys that we needed to get into nationals.”
Cragg helped pull the group along until the final 700 meters. By that time Kosgei was still running confidently and ended up crossing the line in third, while Boit was next in fourth.
Kosgei bettered his previous personal best from Harding University by an impressive 45 seconds and tonight’s performance placed him at third on UA’s all-time indoor top 10 list. At the 2004 NCAA Division II Championships he earned All-America honors with a time of 14:27.00. For Boit it marked his indoor debut as a Hog.
“Peter (Kosgei) had a great race; that was a big personal-best for him,” McDonnell said. “For Josphat (Boit) that was his first race of the year, so he’ll only get better. Peter stayed with Alistair (Cragg) right from the beginning. They knew if they stuck with him they would get qualified and that’s a good feeling heading into a race.”
Freshman Shawn Forrest was also in the race and finished eighth with a provisional time of 14:14.45. Junior Marc Rodrigues was 14th (14:47.72) and senior Jason Sandfort, who was suffering from a head cold, came in 15th (14:47.80).
The triple jump proved to be just as exciting when senior All-American Jaanus Uudmae registered a career-best and NCAA automatic qualifying mark of 53-10.50. The Tallinn, Estonia native put up the measurement on his final attempt and moved up to finish in second place, while freshman Chessly Johnson was 14th (47-4.50). Uudmae’s previous best leap of 53-8.25 was recorded at the 2003 NCAA Indoor Championships where he earned fifth place.
“I’m very satisfied with my performance tonight, even though I really wanted to win, but it was a huge personal best,” Uudmae said. “Coach Booth told me to go all out and crazy on my last jump, so I tried to go out there and give it my all. Going into nationals we’ll have a really good team and I’m happy to contribute to that.”
UA’s great running performances continued as junior Said Ahmed lined up in the mile run. The three-time All-American took the tape in a season-best and improved provisional time of 4:01.33.
After running a fantastic leg on the distance medley relay the night before sophomore Adam Perkins recorded a lifetime-best and provisional qualifying time of 8:01.68 in the 3,000 meters. Perkins finished in third place, while junior Matt Gunn was 10th with a season-best 8:21.13.
The 800 meters produced fast times for Arkansas as all three of its runners in the unseeded section posted season-best performances.
Junior Harun Iman earned a provisional qualifying time of 1:49.33 for second place overall. Sophomore Brian Roe ran 1:51.23 for seventh and junior David Wittenmyer put up 1:52.85 (10th).
Senior James Hatch ran in the championship section and came in third place with a time of 1:50.36.
The 200-meter dash also produced a provisional qualifier when senior Omar Brown recorded a time of 21.01 for fourth place overall, out of 11 sections. Freshman Michael Grant was next with a season-best 21.70 for 14th and sophomore Creighton Kiper turned in another season-best with 22.07.
Grant also ran in the prelims of the 60-meter dash, but finished fourth in his heat with a time of 6.91 and was unable to advance to the finals.
Several Razorbacks ran in the unseeded section of the 3,000 meters, with junior Jose Campos being UA’s top finisher in fifth with a season-best time of 8:22.91. In his first indoor meet of the year junior Luis Bordes was close behind in sixth (8:23.16). Sophomore Abdi Dubed also posted a season-best (8:24.45) for ninth. Junior Josh Robles recorded a time of 8:33.11 to come in 13th and freshman Tyler Hill was 15th (8:52.95).
In the unseeded mile run senior Eric Gross was the only Hog entered and he ran 4:16.93 for 20th overall out of three sections.
In his first competition since the 2003 SEC Outdoor Championships junior Tony Ugoh recorded a heave of 54-9.25 in the weight throw.
Sophomore Greg Martin also competed for the first time during the indoor season when he registered a mark of 23-0.50 in the long jump for 11th place. In the pole vault junior Jimmy Duke cleared 15-10.00 for 13th place.
For the weekend UA gained six new NCAA automatic qualifiers. On Friday night junior NCAA champion Tyson Gay ran an auto time of 6.55 in the 60-meter dash, while the distance medley relay team easily met the standard with a time of 9:29.25.
The SEC Championships are next on the agenda for Arkansas. After finishing in second place in 2004 the Razorbacks are primed to try to reclaim the title on their own track in Fayetteville, Ark., on Feb. 25-27. If the Hogs are victorious it would mark their 24th indoor conference championship and 11th SEC crown.
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