Arkansas Ready for NCAA Championships with Fif
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The No. 1 ranked Arkansas track and field team will be ready for the 2003 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships as it heads into competition with fifteen athletes in nine events. The Razorbacks will set out to capture their 17th NCAA Indoor Track and Field title on March 14-15, when the national meet is held at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark.
After claiming the 2003 SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships on March 2, the Hogs have a strong, balanced arsenal of sprinters, distance runners and jumpers ready to claim a national title.
“The 3,000 and 5,000 have got to be big events for us,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “They’re picking us to win it. We’re in pretty good shape. If we stay healthy between now and Friday I think we’ll have a shot at it as long as our guys go out there and do what they’re supposed to do and what they’re capable of doing we’ll be in the chase.
“It’s been three years since we’ve won a national championship, so some of our guys want to get a ring,” McDonnell said. “They’re motivated and I think they’ll compete well from top to bottom. I think that every guy in the meet has a chance to place. It will be tough in 5,000, because that’s a loaded event, but we have five good guys in there and there are only eight places. It’s been a while since we’ve had that type of a team, where every one of them could score. This is as good of a team we’ve had in the last seven or eight years. The last time we won it in 2000, we scraped by. We were a decent team, but not a great team.”
Four Razorbacks will represent the UA in multiple events. Junior and defending NCAA 5,000-meter champion Alistair Cragg will run in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters. Cragg broke the school record in both events this season, with times of 7:45.22 and 13:35.93, respectively, along with the collegiate record in the 3,000.
Senior Daniel Lincoln will also double up in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters. Lincoln had the seventh fastest time at the Boston Indoor Games in the 3,000 with 7:51.39 and the second fastest time at the Tyson Invitational (13:44.12).
Junior Silverus Kimeli will join Cragg and Lincoln in the 3K and 5K. At the SEC Championships Kimeli finished third with a time of 7:57.96 in the 3,000 meters and second in the 5,000 meters with 13:49.42.
Finals for the 5,000 meters are on Friday at 8 p.m., while the finals for the 3,000 meters are on Saturday at 7:40 p.m.
Senior Richard Smith will see competition in both the long and triple jumps. Smith had the top mark in the long jump at the Missouri Southern Invitational with 25-8.00 and the top mark of 53-4.50 in the triple jump at the LSU Last Ditch meet. The finals for the long jump are Friday at 6 p.m., and the finals for the triple jump are on Saturday at 5:45 p.m.
Junior Robbie Stevens will run in the 800 meters and the second leg of the distance medley relay. Stevens registered the third fastest time at the SEC Championships with 1:48.68. The prelims for the 800 are Friday at 4:15 p.m., with the finals on Saturday at 6:35 p.m.
Junior Westley Alkin and sophomore Jason Sandfort will also run in the 3,000 meters. Alkin came in sixth at the Tyson Invitational with 13:55.98, while Sandfort ran the third fastest time at the SEC Championships with 13:56.50.
Junior Chris Mulvaney will represent the Hogs in the mile run. Mulvaney ran the fourth fastest time at the Tyson Invitational with 3:58.94. The prelims for the mile are Friday at 6:35 p.m., with the finals on Saturday at 6:15 p.m.
Senior Ramon Washington will compete in the long jump and junior transfer Jaanus Uudmae will compete in the triple jump. Washington posted the third best jump at the Tyson Invitational with 25-10.00, while Uudmae jumped the second best mark at the SEC Championships with 53-3.50.
Junior Michael Thomas turned in a best time and school record of 7.69 at the Tyson Invitational in the 60-meter hurdles and will represent the Hogs in the event. The prelims for the hurdles will be on Friday at 4:50 p.m., with the finals at 7:50 p.m.
Sophomore Ahmad “Batman” Carroll will make his first appearance in an indoor track championship in the 60-meter dash. Carroll ran the third fastest time at the Tyson Invitational while breaking the UA school record with a time of 6.67. The prelims for the 60-meter dash will be on Friday at 6 p.m., with the finals on Saturday at 6:55 p.m.
The Razorbacks will also field a distance medley team of Stevens, sophomores Said Ahmed, James Hatch and Michael Taylor. The Hogs ran the fastest time of 9:34.73 at the Boston Indoor Games and look to claim the title at nationals. Finals for the DMR will be the last event of the day on Friday at 9 p.m.
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