Arkansas Set to Host John McDonnell Invitation
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – This weekend the top-ranked Razorbacks will host their only home meet of the outdoor season. The John McDonnell Invitational is set for April 23 at John McDonnell Field. Field events will begin at approximately 10 a.m. with the hammer throw. The finals of the seeded running events will start at 5 p.m. with the 4×100-meter relay. Arkansas will use this meet to gain more regional qualifiers as the outdoor post-season draws closer.
After running a world-leading 200-meter time of 19.97, sophomore Wallace Spearmon Jr., will line up in his choice of the 100 or 400-meter dashes on Saturday. He will also take the second leg of the 4×100-meter relay.
Seniors Tyson Gay and Omar Brown hope to challenge Spearmon’s fast 200-meter time when they take to the track in the event. It will be the duo’s first time to compete in an open 200 this season. They are also members of the 400-meter relay team. Gay will handle the third leg, while Brown is set to anchor.
“I think one of the highlights of the meet is going to be the 200,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “Tyson Gay is going to open up against Omar Brown and both of them are ready to rip a 200. That’s going to be a terrific race. Wallace is going to run the 400 or 100.
“I think for any track fan that wants to see great athletes in action, those are great athletes to watch,” McDonnell said. “As far as I’m concerned they (Gay and Spearmon) are two of the best sprinters in the world, not just in the United States, the world. This weekend is an opportunity to see them in person at our one and only home meet.”
Freshman two-sport athlete Michael Grant will complete the relay on the first leg. He is also running in the 100 and 200-meter dashes with sophomore Creighton Kiper. Juniors Brad Dittoe and David Wittenmyer will fill their usual spots in the 400-meter hurdles.
The sprinters won’t be the only ones to compete in their signature events. Several distance and middle distance runners hope to have strong openings and pick up the important regional standard. The 1,500 meters has seniors Said Ahmed and Jason Sandfort, and juniors Josphat Boit and Seth Summerside entered. Three Hogs will run in the 800 meters, including senior James Hatch, junior Harun Iman and sophomore Brian Roe. Roe is the only one regionally qualified in the event.
The 3,000-meter steeplechase will feature a group of talented UA runners. Junior Jose Campos was a national junior college champion in the event and sophomore Peter Kosgei boasts a quality time (8:52.99) from his previous program, Harding University. Sophomore Adam Perkins is also slated to compete in the event.
The 3,000 meters is loaded with Razorbacks, including juniors Abdi Dubed, Josh Robles and Marc Rodrigues, and freshmen Tyler Hill, Shawn Forrest and Jonathan Norris.
The throwing events will be highlighted with junior Eric Brown. Brown is leading the SEC and the NCAA Mideast Region in the javelin with a mark of 237-11 and was recently named the league’s field athlete of the week.
Senior Jaanus Uudmae has been leading the jumping crew and is already regionally qualified in both the long (25-0.75) and triple (53-7.00) jumps. He is at the top of the NCAA Mideast Region in the triple jump, but will aim to better his standings in each event, as freshman Chessly Johnson joins him in the triple jump.
The high jump will see competition from senior Cory Oldham and sophomore Greg Martin, while senior P.J. Brown and junior Jimmy Duke will pole vault.
After the John McDonnell Invitational the Hogs will travel to Philadelphia, Pa., for the historic Penn Relays on April 28-30.
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