TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – For the second time in 2007, Nkosinza Balumbu was the lone Razorback atop the awards podium at the SEC Championships. Balumbu won his third-straight SEC triple jump title, Arkansas’ only individual title win, on the final day of the SEC Championships in Tuscaloosa, Ala. on Sunday.
“Our guys did a great job,” head coach John McDonnell said. “We didn’t have enough man power here to handle it. I can’t say anything about the way they competed today. They worked all the way through.”
The Razorbacks, earning three runner-up finishes on Sunday and five in the championships, finished third in the team race with 100 points. The Tennessee Volunteers won the event with 129.5 points while LSU rounded out the top three in second place with 122 points.
“Nobody quit,” McDonnell said. “I told them at our team meeting that I am a realist, I don’t think we can beat Tennessee or LSU but you can always pray for a miracle. I think they were praying for a miracle out there.”
In its 16 years in the SEC, Arkansas has only lost three outdoor conference titles (2001, 2002, 2007) and in all three instances, Tennessee has taken the title. The last time the Razorbacks have won only one event in an outdoor conference championship was in 1979 (Mark Muggleton, 5,000 meters) when the Hogs finished sixth in the Southwest Conference. 100 points also marks the lowest point total the Razorbacks have scored in a SEC outdoor championship.
Nkosinza Balumbu won his third-straight SEC triple jump title with a winning leap of 52-10.75. With a mark of 51-10.5 coming on his third attempt, Balumbu had the event clinched going into his final jump even after Derek Pressley of South Carolina matched the same distance on his final jump. Balumbu’s second-best jump of 51-5.5 was better than Pressley’s second-best jump of 50-6.75, securing the title for Balumbu.
“The last jump was all about pride,” Balumbu said. “I didn’t want to have another jumper that close to me. I took that last jump with pride. I felt kind of lackadaisical throughout the day as a whole. I felt sleepy and I wasn’t really in it. It showed in my first five jumps. I was trying to turn it on and that wasn’t good. I need to be able to turn it on faster. I was determined to have my best jump on my last jump.”
Daniel Quinn finished sixth with a personal best 50-0.50, his second regional-qualifying mark in the event this season. Sidelined with an injury for much of the season, Gary Jones made his outdoor debut for the Razorbacks. He finished seventh with a regional-qualifying mark of 49-9.25.
After the triple jump was completed, Arkansas’ 15 points kept the Hogs behind Tennessee, who collected nine points from the event, 63.5 to 63.
The 4×100-meter relay was the next event scored. The Hogs finished fourth to score five points. Cedric Zellner, Clemore Henry, Mychael Stewart and J-Mee Samuels combined for a time of 39.89, also a regional-qualifying mark.
Tennessee won the event with a time of 38.91 to earn 10 team points for a total of 73.5 in the team standings to Arkansas’ 68 points. LSU was second with a clocking of 39.37 and moved to third with 46 points.
Adam Perkins followed next with a runner-up finish in the 1,500 meters. Also finishing second in the 2007 SEC indoor mile, Perkins clocked a 3:44.71, his fourth regional-qualifying mark of the season, after picking off Emmanuel Bor of Alabama with 100 meters to go.
“This was a surprise for me,” Perkins said. “Three days ago I didn’t even expect to be racing (because of a sore Achilles’ tendon). In my mind, there was no way I could run with the amount of pain I was in. I could hardly jog on it, let alone race on it. With about 350 meters to go, I started to feel a twinge in my Achilles’ and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to finish the race. It almost went numb with about 100 meters to go and I was able to pass (Bor of Alabama) but it was too late to pass Richardson (of Kentucky).”
Perkins’ eight points propelled Arkansas to 76 points, just one and a half points behind Tennessee’s 77.5 after the Vols picked up four points in the 1,500 meters.
Samuels made his second trip to the start line in the 100-meter finals. With the score 78.5 to 76 in favor of Tennessee, Samuels finished second with a time of 10.30 and edged out two Volunteers in the process.
“No excuses, (Holliday of LSU) ran really well, another PR for him and I’m proud of him,” Samuels said of his former high school adversary. “I think I could have done better. I always think I can do better. I know for a fact I’ll run better in the upcoming events, regionals and nationals. (My time) was good but I always expect better of myself. I’m happy that I got second.”
LSU’s Trindon Holliday won the event in a time of 10.08. Stewart, competing in his fifth event of the weekend, finished eighth with a time of 10.64. Tennessee took a 91.5 to 85 lead after the 100 meters after scoring three athletes in the event.
The 200 meters was the final event before the running of the 5K. Tennessee clinched the title win scoring three runners in the top five and extending its lead to 126.5 points. LSU moved into second with 109 while the Razorbacks trailed in third with 85 points.
Peter Kosgei, running in his third race in as many days, fought for a runner-up finish in the 5,000 meters with a time of 14:10.98. Kosgei recorded three top three finishes during the four-day competition.
Tyler Hill was the next scorer for the Hogs in fifth place with a time of 14:16.89. James Strang was seventh with a time of 14:20.63 and Matt Munoz rounded out the scoring in eighth (14:22.95).
Kosgei was the runner-up in the Commissioner’s Trophy race, won by Ole Miss’ Barnabas Kirui who won the 10K, the 3,000-meter steeplechase and the 5,000 meters to score 30 points. Kosgei finished second in the 10K, third in the steeplechase and second in the 5,000 meters for 22 points.
The 10K, the steeplechase and the 5,000 meters combined for 42 points. The high, long and triple jumps combined for 35 points. Alain Bailey was the top field events performer for the Hogs with 14 points from a runner-up finish in the long jump (25-7.25) and a third-place finish in the high jump (6-10.75).
For complete results, schedule and details of the SEC Outdoor Championships, visit www.rolltide.com.