Arkansas Wins Team Title at Armory Collegiate
BY ANDRES FOCIL
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Top-ranked Arkansas looked like its old self again when the Razorbacks won the first-place team trophy at the Armory Collegiate Invitational with 83.2 points. UA captured the team title with the help of outstanding individual performances from seniors Terry Gatson (400) and James Hatch (800) and junior Said Ahmed (mile), who all claimed top honors in their respective events.
LSU earned runner-up honors with 75.5 points and Georgia was third with 71.3. Tennessee tallied 67.5 for fourth place.
“Today was great and it reminded me of what an Arkansas team should look like,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “We won the 400, 800 and mile and those are places we needed to improve. They stepped up where we needed help.”
Hatch started off the day in the 800 meters and ran a very smart race on his way to registering an NCAA-leading time of 1:48.24. He was close to gaining the NCAA automatic qualification of 1:48.00. Hatch’s performance also broke the Armory Collegiate Invitational record of 1:48.90, previously held by South Carolina standout Otukile Lekote in 2003, making Hatch the fastest collegian ever to run the 800 at the historic venue.
“I was excited about getting the record, but it still wasn’t an automatic time,” Hatch said. “Hopefully things will continue to get better next week at the Tyson Invitational.”
The 400 meters were next and Gatson was representing Arkansas in the race after he put up the fastest prelim time of 46.85. He powered around the track to record a 46.74 and better his provisional qualification.
In the mile run junior Said Ahmed took the tape with a provisional qualifying time of 4:01.44. Sophomore Adam Perkins also gained a provisional standard when he ran a personal-best time of 4:04.39. UA’s junior Seth Summerside served as the rabbit for the race and took the group out at the excellent pace, enabling them to record quality times. Junior Marc Rodrigues came in ninth (4:07.40).
The exciting 4×400-meter relay wrapped up the evening and the Arkansas team of senior Omar Brown, freshman Michael Grant, Gatson and sophomore Wallace Spearmon Jr., finished in a close second place to LSU (3:07.73). The Hogs’ time of 3:08.25 placed them at third on UA’s all-time indoor top 10 list and is the fourth fastest in the nation this year. Spearmon clocked a final leg of 45.7 to bring the team back into contention after they had been running in the fourth position.
Three Hogs took to the track in the 5,000 meters and junior Matt Gunn was the team’s top finisher as he grabbed fourth place with a career-best time of 14:18.98. sophomore Abdi Dubed was next in seventh (14:31.00) and junior Jose Campos finished in 13th place (14:49.13).
The distance medley relay team of juniors Harun Iman and David Wittenmyer, sophomore Brian Roe and junior Seth Summerside improved their previous top time by an impressive nine seconds as they crossed the line in second place with 9:45.18.
Freshman Michael Grant just missed advancing to the 200-meter dash finals by one thousandths of a second after he won his heat in a time of 21.72. Sophomore Creighton Kiper was third in his heat with 22.42.
In field events action senior Jaanus Uudmae (51-1.00) finished fifth in the triple jump, while freshman Chessly Johnson was eighth (50-1.75). Both are already provisionally qualified in the event, but did not improve their standing in New York City.
Senior Cory Oldham tied for seventh in the high jump with a clearance of 6-7.50, while freshman Brent Rosson was unable to register a height.
After Arkansas returns from New York they will host the Powered by Tyson Invitational on Feb. 11-12 at the Randal Tyson Track Center. The Razorbacks will have the opportunity to go up against some of the world’s best athletes during the professional portion of the meet on Friday night from 7-9 p.m., and on Saturday nearly 30 schools from around the country will take to the track with events taking place all day.
Finals on Saturday will begin approximately at 6 p.m. Fans wishing to attend the meet can enter the event free of charge with their ticket stub from the UA basketball game held earlier in the day. Admission cost without a ticket stub will be $5.
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