GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Junior Alain Bailey won two field event titles and senior Scott MacPherson won the steeplechase to give Arkansas Razorback men’s track and field the lead after day three of the SEC Outdoor Championships, in Gainesville, Fla. on Saturday.
The Razorbacks lead the team race with 53 points after nine scored events. Georgia is second with 52 points and LSU rounds out the top three with 46.5 points.
"Getting victories at the SEC meet is always a great thing," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "I’m so happy Scott (MacPherson) got that win in the steeplechase. I wanted that so bad for him. And he ran really well after a bronze finish in the 10K last night. That’s a tough double and if we need him, he said he’d run the 5K Sunday night too. Running all three races takes a lot of heart and a tough kid. Scotty is just that kind of guy."
"What an effort by Alain Bailey," Bucknam said. "Winning both events is huge. We were definitely counting on him in the long jump but those 10 extra points from the high jump are huge. He was really focused today and got the job done."
Bailey defended his long jump title with another win on Saturday. His best jump of the day measured 25-8.75 and came on his third attempt of the prelims. He led a 1-4-5 finish for Arkansas in the event. Not only did he defend his title from the 2008 championships but Bailey won Arkansas’ eighth SEC long jump title since 1992, picked up his sixth All-SEC honor and won his third SEC title overall and his second straight outdoors. Bailey has never finished lower than second in an SEC Championship long jump event.
A mere two hours later, Bailey began the high jump competition and was clean through 6-8.75 and 6-10.75. He cleared 7-0.25 on his third attempted and took the title with a first-attempt clearance at 7-1.5. His jump is a personal best and a regional qualifier.
"It wasn’t the perfect meet but I did what I had to do and got the win for my team," Bailey said. "It wasn’t my best (long) jump but I’m glad I got the win. Winning (the high jump and the long jump) is an incredible feeling especially because I haven’t done much training in the high jump since the outdoor season started. I’m happy to get these points for my team."
Bailey’s high jump title is his fourth SEC title overall and his first in the high jump. He now totals seven All-SEC honors and put himself in contention for the 2009 SEC Commissioner’s Trophy, the award for the student-athlete who scores the most points.
Bailey won Arkansas’ sixth SEC Outdoor high jump title since 1992 and is the first Hog to take the high jump crown since Kenny Evans’ victory in 2001. He is the first SEC competitor to win both the high jump and the long jump at the same outdoor championships since Florida’s Michael Morrison won both in 2006. He is the first Hog to ever win both the high jump and the long jump in SEC Outdoor competition.
Senior Mychael Stewart added to Arkansas’ point total with a fourth-place finish and a long jump of 25-1.75. Freshman Tarik Batchelor was fifth with his jump of 25-1.25 and was the top freshman finisher in the event. Senior Daniel Quinn was ninth with a regional-qualifying mark of 24-4.25. Also in the high jump, senior Brent Rosson finished seventh with his clearance of 6-8.75.
Arkansas ended Saturday’s competition on a high note with MacPherson’s dominating win in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. The favorite entering the race, MacPherson locked it up and broke away with two laps to go. He clocked another personal-best time of 8:44.08, his third of the season.
"There really wasn’t any easy part of that race," MacPherson said. "It’s hard to come back from a 10K, not matter how fast you run it. Luckily it was pretty slow, so I had a good chance to let my legs get under me, to be able to come back and have a good run tonight. It was fun. This win is great."
MacPherson earned his first SEC title and his first All-SEC honor in track and field. He won Arkansas’ 10th SEC steeplechase title since 1992 and the first since Peter Kosgei won the crown in 2005. Freshman Rick Elliott scored points in his first SEC Outdoor meet. He finished sixth behind MacPherson with a personal-best time of 9:08.53.
The 1,500-meter prelims was another successful event for the Hogs as three Razorbacks qualified for the finals. Junior Dorian Ulrey led the way with the overall fastest prelim time of 3:46.62. Senior Andy McClary was second for the Hogs and third overall with his time of 3:46.66. Sophomore Michael Chinchar was fourth overall with his prelim time of 3:51.89.
Senior J-Mee Samuels qualified for the 100-meter finals. He clocked a prelim time of 10.38 and an eighth-place finish overall.
Sophomore Luke Laird was unable to defend his title in the javelin. He marked a toss of 202-5 to finish ninth. In the pole vault, junior Chad Burnett finished 15th with a clearance of 15-7 and Spencer McCorkel had two attempts off the ground at 16-6.75 but was unable to clear the bar in the air.
The SEC Outdoor Championships will continue Sunday with Nkosinza Balumbu, Batchelor and Quinn in the triple jump at 2 p.m. CST. For more information, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com or GatorZone.com.
Scott MacPherson, 3,000-meter steeplechase, 1st, 8:44.08
Rick Elliott, 3,000-meter steeplechase, 6th, 9:08.53
Scott MacPherson, 10,000 meters, 3rd, 30:17.48
Lane Boyer, 10,000 meters, 7th, 30:58.09
Rio Reina, 10,000 meters, 8th, 31:04.41
Alain Bailey, high jump, 1st, 7-1.5
Brent Rosson, high jump, 7th, 6-8.75
Alain Bailey, long jump, 1st, 25-8.75
Mychael Stewart, long jump, 4th, 25-1.75
Tarik Batchelor, long jump, 5th, 25-1.25
SEC Finals Qualifiers
J-Mee Samuels, 100 meters, 8th, 10.38
Marek Niit, 200 meters, 3rd, 20.78
Andy McClary, 800 meters, 1st, 1:48.46
Alex McClary, 800 meters, 3rd, 1:49.76
Chris Bilbrew, 800 meters, 6th, 1:50.12
Dorian Ulrey, 800 meters, 7th, 1:49.35
Dorian Ulrey, 1,500 meters, 1st, 3:46.62
Andy McClary, 1,500 meters, 3rd, 3:46.66
Michael Chinchar, 1,500 meters, 4th, 3:51.89