Arkansas Set to Host John McDonnell Invitation
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Razorbacks will host their only outdoor meet of the season on Saturday, April 10, when eighteen schools make the trip to Fayetteville for the John McDonnell Invitational.
Joining third-ranked Arkansas on the track will be Bacone College, Barton County CC, Butler County CC, Cloud County CC, Harding, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Monroe, Missouri Southern, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma State, No. 21 Oklahoma, Oral Roberts, Pittsburg State, Rhode Island, Southwest Missouri State and Tulsa.
Twenty-seven UA athletes are scheduled to compete in 12 events at John McDonnell Field as they look to gain NCAA regional qualifications. With Arkansas’ first field event scheduled for 11 a.m. and the running events beginning at 2:30 p.m., it’s shaping up to be a full day of quality competition.
“Everybody is going to be able to compete in a comfortable situation with not too much stress,” Arkansas assistant coach Dick Booth said. “We had a situation down in Texas where we got off to a good start and now we’ve got some young guys that didn’t get to go and probably were in over their heads. Now they can compete pretty straight up with some of the people that are coming in. The other thing is some of the young guys are trying to earn a trip to the Mt. SAC and Penn Relays, so I think there’s going to be a fire in their bellies.”
The field events will start the day at 11 a.m. with sophomore Eric Brown in the javelin. Last week at the Texas Relays Brown posted a career-best 235-6 and hopes to better his mark on his home track.
At 3 p.m. several Razorback athletes will see competition in their respective events. Junior Cory Oldham and freshman Greg Martin are both representing UA in the high jump. Martin will also see action in the long jump that afternoon.
The pole vault with senior transfer Jeremy Scott and juniors P.J. Brown and Jimmy Duke will wrap up the field activities at 4 p.m. Scott will be making his outdoor debut in an Arkansas uniform after excelling at NCAA Division III Allegheny College.
The prelims of the 110-meter hurdles are at 2:30 p.m., while the finals will take place at 5:35 p.m. Senior All-American Michael Thomas has already earned a regional qualification (13.86) but wants to improve his time on Saturday.
Juniors Chason Pompey and All-American Terry Gatson will follow shortly after in the 400-meter dash. It will be the first time during the outdoor campaign either one has competed in the event. Pompey will also run in a loaded 200-meter dash with Thomas, freshmen Creighton Kiper and All-American Wallace Spearmon and sophomore Omar Brown will have his chance to qualify in the 100-meter dash.
Three Hogs will be racing in the 400-meter hurdles. Senior Maurice Bridges is the only one with a regional qualification (50.97). He will be joined by sophomores Brad Dittoe and David Wittenmyer.
The 1,500 meters is stacked with standout Arkansas athletes and senior All-American Alistair Cragg is expected to lead the charge. Junior All-Americans Said Ahmed, Jason Sandfort and Michael Taylor and freshman Josh Harper will all look to have a strong showing.
The 800-meter run will also have a strong UA contingent with three All-Americans lining up including senior Chris Mulvaney, junior James Hatch and freshman Sam Vazquez.
Four Razorbacks will be gunning for fast times in the 3,000 meters with sophomores Luis Bordes, Eric Gross and Matt Gunn and freshman Adam Perkins taking to the track.
Besides the open events UA will also boast two relays teams. The 4×100 and 4×400-meter relays will look to gain important regional qualifications.
After the John McDonnell Invitational the Hogs will travel to Walnut, Calif., for the Mt. SAC Relays on April 16-18, before having a quick turn-around to go to the Penn Relays on April 22-24.
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