LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Junior Alain Bailey led a 1-2-3 finish in the long jump for Arkansas Razorback men’s track and field on day one of the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships, at Louisville’s Cardinal Park.
The Razorbacks qualified four automatically for the NCAA Championships. Additionally, seven individuals advanced to the finals in four running events plus the 4×100-meter relay.
After five events scored, Arkansas leads the team race with 28 points. Louisville and Ole Miss are tied for second with 17 points.
"We had a pretty good day," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "It was great to see Alain (Bailey) and our long jumpers step it up and compete. Two 26-foot jumps and a 1-2-3 finish is a great momentum boost going into the NCAA meet. The 800 meters and the 1,500 meters are important events for us and all of our guys got to the finals. Our sprinters also got their jobs done. J-Mee Samuels ran three strong races today."
Bailey, fresh off a double win in the high and long jumps at the SEC Championships, kept the momentum going with a win in the long jump. His best jump of the day measured 26-5.5. His mark is a personal best, the NCAA leader and the World Championships "B" standard. Bailey’s jump ranks No. 8 on Arkansas’ all-time list and also sets a new NCAA Mideast Regional meet record and a new Cardinal Park facility record.
"A 1-2-3 finish is great for me and my teammates," Bailey said. "I had a pretty good day and I had another personal best. It’s the top mark in the NCAA and that gives a big boost of confidence heading in to the NCAA meet. Mychael (Stewart) really picked us up when he got a personal best right before I jumped. It’ll be great to have three Arkansas guys in the long jump at the NCAA Championships in Fayetteville."
Senior Mychael Stewart added another six inches to his personal-best mark when he jumped 26-0. He finished second overall and now ranks No. 5 in the NCAA. Freshman Tarik Batchelor rounded out the Razorback scorers with a bronze finish. His best jump of the day, also a personal best, measured 25-8. All three will compete in the long jump at the NCAA Championships in Fayetteville next month.
Senior James Strang gave himself a chance to double at the NCAA Championships. Already holding an automatic qualifier in the 10,000 meters, he picked up a fifth-place finish in the 5,000 meters. He clocked a time of 14:09.33 to punch his ticket in the event.
In similar fashion to the SEC Championships two weeks ago, the 800 meters and the 1,500 meters were successful preliminary rounds for the Razorbacks. Junior Dorian Ulrey won his heat of the 1,500 meters and posted the fastest qualifying time of 3:45.38. His time automatically qualifies him for Saturday’s finals and is a new Cardinal Park record.
Senior Andy McClary was third in his 1,500-meter heat and sixth overall. He clocked a time of 3:48.45. Sophomore Michael Chinchar finished fifth in his heat and ninth overall with his clocking of 3:46.48. Both will run in Saturday’s 1,500-meter final.
Senior Alex McClary continued his dominance of the 800 meters. He won his heat and finished third overall with a time of 1:49.36. Sophomore Chris Bilbrew was second in his heat, behind Alex McClary, and fifth overall. He clocked a time of 1:49.63. McClary on finish and Bilbrew on time advanced to Saturday’s finals.
"That was a good 800 meters," Alex McClary said. "We stood around for awhile but I just tried to stay loose and focused. It’s great to see all of us taking care of business today. (Chris) Bilbrew ran a strong race and did what he had to do to give himself another race tomorrow. The 1,500-meter guys ran well, too. We all train together every day so it’s a great feeling to watch them get the job done."
The Arkansas sprinters started the day with a sixth-place finish overall in the 4×100-meter prelims. Senior Cedric Zellner, freshman Marek Niit, Stewart and senior J-Mee Samuels combined for a time of 40.04 to qualify for the finals.
Later in the day, Samuels finished sixth overall in the 100-meter prelims (10.38) and ninth overall in the 200-meter prelims (20.92). He advanced in the 100 meters, his specialty, but did not in the 200 meters.
Niit also ran a second race after the relay prelims. He won his heat and finished fifth overall in the 200 meters. He clocked a time of 20.89.
Competition at the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships will resume Saturday at 3:10 p.m. CST with the 4×100-meter relay. For more information and complete results, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
NCAA Auto Qualifiers
James Strang, 5,000 meters
Shawn Forrest, 10,000 meters
James Strang, 10,000 meters
Alain Bailey, long jump
Mychael Stewart, long jump
Tarik Batchelor, long jump
Saturday’s Finals Qualifiers
J-Mee Samuels, 100 meters
Marek Niit, 200 meters
Chris Bilbrew, 800 meters
Alex McClary, 800 meters
Michael Chinchar, 1,500 meters
Andy McClary, 1,500 meters
Dorian Ulrey, 1,500 meters