FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas track and field finished seventh with 22 points and five All-America honors at the NCAA Indoor Championships, held in Fayetteville, Ark. this weekend.
Despite the lowest indoor team finish since 1981 (tied for 11th), head coach John McDonnell was pleased with the efforts his six athletes put forth.
“I am pleased; we just didn’t have the numbers,” head coach John McDonnell said. “If the disqualification didn’t happen in the mile, I don’t know what would have happened. But I am very happy. I think we got what we could.”
Wisconsin won the team title with 40 points anchored by Chris Solinsky’s efforts in the 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters. Florida State finished second with 35 points and the Texas Longhorns rounded out the top three with 34 points.
Wisconsin’s 40 points is the lowest winning point total since the 2001 NCAA Championships when the LSU Tigers won with 34 points. The 2007 season marks the first time a SEC or Big 12 school has not won either a men’s or women’s team title in the same indoor season with the current conference alignment.
Despite Arkansas’ five All-America honors and three top five individual finishes, the event marks the first time since the 2001 indoor championships that a Razorback has not won an individual title.
Nkosinza Balumbu improved his fifth-place finish from a year ago with a jump of 53-1.5, good for a third-place finish and the second All-America honor of his career.
“I’m not disappointed in (Nkosinza Balumbu),” McDonnell said. “That was a good performance. He could have won it but he took third and that’s good. His first jump is always the best. He’s not coming through in the later jumps like he needs to do to be a great jumper. But he’s young. He will.”
His mark, coming on his third attempt, is a season best but wasn’t enough for the title win he was hoping for.
“Of course I am disappointed,” Balumbu said. “The only positive is that I got through the season and I overcame my (hamstring) injury (from the end of the 2006 outdoor season). I feel like I am at 100 percent and that’s a positive heading into outdoor season.”
Event winner Andre Black of Louisville marked a leap of 53-5.5 on his fifth attempt. After Black passed him in the standings, Balumbu’s last chance at the title fell short with a jump of 52-0.
“I was never happy with my leading mark,” Balumbu said. “I knew I had to go further. It was too close. I left too many people close to me. I should have put a big one out there when I had the chance.”
After a stunning 5,000-meter race on Friday night, Peter Kosgei finished eighth in the 3,000 meters with a time of 8:03.02.
“I haven’t talked to (Peter Kosgei) yet but I think he was tired,” McDonnell said. “He ran a tough race last night.”
Now a 10-time All-American, Kosgei was happy with his performance considering the race he ran against Solinsky Friday night in the 5K.
“Last night took a lot out of me,” Kosgei said. “(The 5,000 meters) was a tough race so I am happy with my 3,000 meters tonight. I feel good heading into the outdoor season.”
Lopez Lomong of Northern Arizona was the 3,000-meter winner with a time of 7:49.74.
The Razorbacks will open the 2007 outdoor season at the Stanford Invitational, March 30-31. For complete details of the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships, visit www.ladybacks.com.