Arkansas Tied for Lead with Sweep in 10K; Crag
BY ANDRES FOCIL
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Arkansas got off to an outstanding start at the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships as they tallied 29 points to tie for the lead with a one, two, three, six and seven finish in the 10,000-meter run and qualified seven runners in preliminary events.
Tennessee also has 29 points, followed by Georgia with 28 and Auburn with 17 points.
The Razorbacks dominated the 10K as junior Alistair Cragg blew away the rest of the field and captured his third SEC individual title with a career-best and NCAA automatic qualifying time of 28:42.72. His time also broke a 21-year old SEC meet record by nearly four seconds. The previous record of 28:46.00 was held by Mark Nenow from Kentucky in 1981. Additionally, Cragg’s time puts him at fifth on UA’s all-time outdoor top 10 list in the event and he became the 10th Razorback to win the event in 11 years.
“I had no idea I was chasing the record,” Cragg said. “The plan was to get a good pace and qualify for nationals. This is big for the team. There is a lot of pressure for us to try to get as many points as possible and we pulled through.”
“Going one, two, three is huge,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “That’s 29 points for us. In my wildest dreams I had us with 28. This is so big because the first day is important for qualifying everyone in the prelims. Everyone advanced and then the 10,000 topped it all off. Tonight we showed that we’re here to do battle.”
Defending SEC 10,000-meter champion, senior Daniel Lincoln, crossed the line in second with a career-best and NCAA provisional qualifying time of 29:16.27, with sophomore Jason Sandfort next in third with another provisional time of 29:41.26. It was Sandfort’s first time to compete since he ran in the 3,000 meters at the McDonnell Invitational on April 12.
Senior Silverus Kimeli came in sixth (30:43.81) and freshman Luis Bordes took seventh place honors (31:03.57). Junior Westley Alkin also ran in the event and turned in a time of 31:58.28 for 13th place.
In the prelims of the 800-meter run five of the six Razorbacks in the event qualified for the finals. Junior Robbie Stevens and sophomore Said Ahmed both automatically advanced with their first places finishes in their respective heats. Ahmed’s season-best time of 1:48.05 was the fastest time out of the four heats, while Stevens posted a 1:49.33.
Junior Chris Mulvaney and sophomores James Hatch and Michael Taylor also advanced to the finals with times of 1:48.94, 1:49.44 and 1:48.49, respectively.
Senior Chad Grundy ran in the fourth heat and was unable qualify for the finals with a time of 1:51.53.
Sophomore Ahmad Carroll won his heat in the prelims of the 200-meter dash with a career-best time of 20.91. His time was the second fastest out of the four loaded heats and easily advanced him to the finals.
In the 400-meter hurdles junior transfer Maurice Bridges was the eighth man and the only Arkansas athlete to advance to the finals. He posted a time of 51.34 as he finished third in his heat. Junior Josh Landreth (52.91) and freshman Brad Dittoe (57.46) were unable to qualify for the finals.
In the decathlon junior Tom Crowder ran a career-best 15.09 in the 110-meter hurdles for 842 points to move up to seventh place. He then went on to earn 637 points in the discus with a career-best throw of 126-10. When it started raining the pole vault was moved indoors due to safety concerns, but unfortunately Crowder was unable to clear a height and withdrew from the event.
The SEC Outdoor Championships will continue tomorrow starting with the long jump at 3:30 p.m., and ending with the Lincoln trying to claim his third-straight SEC steeplechase title at 9:10 p.m.
1. Arkansas 29
1. Tennessee 29
3. Georgia 28
4. Auburn 17
5. Mississippi State 6
6. Mississippi 4
7. South Carolina 3
8. Alabama 1
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