Arkansas Set to Defend NCAA Indoor Title with
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Razorbacks have carried a No. 1 national ranking all year and they’re ready to prove themselves to the country as they play host to the 2004 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships on March 12-13 at the Randal Tyson Track Center. Arkansas will look to successfully defend its NCAA indoor crown and claim an unprecedented 39th national championship and its 18th indoor title.
“The competition is as good as any I’ve ever seen in all events,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “There are no weak events and no cheap points. For the first time we’ve been competitive in the sprints with people in the 60, high hurdles, 200 and 400. Of course we have our distance runners in the 3,000, 5,000 and DMR. We’re ready and we’re healthy. We’ll just roll the dice and see what happens. There are a lot of good teams here.”
In the most recent Trackwire rankings Arkansas is predicted to tally 70 points, while LSU is second with 43 and Auburn is right behind with 42 in third place. SEC champion Florida is in the fourth position with 29 points.
Arkansas will look to garner those points with outstanding performances from its 11 athletes who will be competing in eight events during the two-day meet. Two Razorbacks will represent UA in more than one event.
Senior Alistair Cragg will run in both the 3,000 and 5,000-meter runs. He will enter the races as the defending champion and is a heavy favorite to repeat in 2004 as he carries times of 7:38.59 and 13:42.95, respectively. His 3K time is also the collegiate record. Finals for the 5,000 meters are on Friday at 8:30 p.m. and the 3,000-meter finals will start at 7:50 p.m. on Saturday.
Sophomore transfer Tyson Gay will also double for UA’s cause and take to the track in the 60 and 200-meter dashes. Gay has broken school records in each event almost every time he has competed and has become the Hogs’ top sprinter. His 60-meter time of 6.57 is second-best in the country, while his time of 20.40 in the 200 is the fastest in the nation and the world this year.
Freshman Wallace Spearmon is set to join Gay in the 200 meters with the third-best time (20.74) in the nation that he posted in his first race in an Arkansas jersey at the Tyson Invitational.
Preliminary heats for both events are on Friday with the 60-meter dash at 6:30 p.m. and the 200-meter dash at 7:35 p.m. The finals for the 200 will also take place on Friday at 9 p.m. The 60-meter dash finals are on Saturday at 7:25 p.m.
In the mile run senior Chris Mulvaney will look to defend his national title with a top time of 3:59.72 from the Tyson Invitational. His time is fourth in the country and one of seven sub-fours recorded this season. Prelims are set for Friday at 7:05 p.m., with the finals at 6:25 p.m. on Saturday.
Senior Michael Thomas will see action in the 60-meter hurdles for the third-straight year after claiming fourth place in 2003 and seventh in 2002. His top time of 7.69 is third in the country. Prelims are at 5:20 p.m. on Friday, with the finals later that evening at 8:20 p.m.
Junior transfer Terry Gatson will represent UA in the 400-meter dash and enters the race with a time of 46.35. The prelims are at 5:50 p.m. on Friday and the finals will take place at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.
The distance medley realy team will look to redeem itself from last year’s ninth-place showing and is seeded with a time of 9:32.90 from the Tyson Invitational. Members of that team include freshmen Ryan Botha, Sam Vazquez, junior Michael Taylor and senior Maurice Bridges, but McDonnell has yet to decide on which Razorbacks will handle baton duties. Junior James Hatch and Gatson are also available and will serve as alternates.
Events on Friday will begin at 9 a.m. with the men’s heptathlon and the finals of the high jump at 2:30 p.m. Finals for running events will start at 8:10 p.m. with the 5,000 meters. On Saturday the heptathlon is the first event of the day and is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. The pole vault is the first field event final at 5:30 p.m., with the highly anticipated mile run starting at 6:25 p.m. as the first running event final.
Sports Category :