Arkansas Will Look for More Qualifiers at Mt.
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – After enduring cold temperatures and rain at last week’s John McDonnell Invitational the second-ranked Razorbacks are looking forward to the warmer weather that usually accompanies the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif. Arkansas is taking 26 athletes to more earn NCAA regional qualifying times and marks at the three-day meet on April 16-18. The Hogs have tallied one automatic and 11 regional qualifiers through three meets.
“We want to try to get everyone qualified regionally,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “From the 1,500, 800, 5,000, the sprints and the high hurdles; we want something positive to come from this meet. This past weekend the weather was atrocious, so they should have pleasant conditions at Mt. SAC. The competition they’ll go up against will be good and give them an early season test.”
The 1,500 meters will serve as an important race for Arkansas, because it has no runners qualified in the event. Senior and NCAA runner-up Chris Mulvaney will lead the charge and have juniors Said Ahmed and Michael Taylor, sophomore Eric Gross, freshmen Adam Perkins, Mike Poe and Sam Vazquez looking to follow suit.
Ahmed, Mulvaney, Taylor and Vazquez will also represent Arkansas in the 800-meter run, along with junior James Hatch.
Senior Alistair Cragg will be making his outdoor season debut in the Invitational 5,000 meters against top professional runners and past and present college rivals, including Louis Luchini and Adrian Blincoe. Two years ago the six-time NCAA champion set a new UA school record on the same track with a time of 13:22.07 and is expected to turn in another fast time. Junior Jason Sandfort and freshman Josh Harper will compete in the university divisions of the event.
The long distance parade will continue when sophomores Luis Bordes and Matt Gunn take to the track in the 10,000 meters.
Besides the open running events UA will boast two strong relay teams. The 4×100 has junior Michael Thomas, sophomore Omar Brown, freshmen Creighton Kiper and Wallace Spearmon slated to handle baton duties. The same relay team put together a qualifying time of 39.70 at the John McDonnell Invitational.
The 4×400-meter relay is the last event of the weekend and UA has five runners to choose from, including senior Maurice Bridges, juniors Terry Gatson and Hatch, Brown and Spearmon.
In addition to their contribution on the relay teams Brown, Kiper and Spearmon have plans to register good times in the 200-meter dash.
Bridges will also double when he sees action in the 400-meter hurdles, with sophomores Brad Dittoe and David Wittenmyer. Gatson will be the lone Razorback in the 400-meter dash and Thomas will compete in his signature event, the 110-meter hurdles.
Five field athletes are making the trip with juniors P.J. Brown and Jimmy Duke entered in the pole vault and junior Cory Oldham and freshman Greg Martin are scheduled for competition in the high jump. Martin will also represent UA in the long jump. Sophomore Eric Brown hopes to continue his winning ways when he will go for his third-straight javelin meet title.
After the Razorbacks return from California they will have a quick turn-around and head to the historic Penn Relays in Philadelphia, Pa., on April 22-24.
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