FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – After a slow day one at the Tyson Invitational, the Razorbacks couldn’t turn it around on day two and ended the day on a sour note with the distance medley relay. The Hogs only mustered two provisional qualifiers for a total of six on the weekend while still lacking their first automatic qualifier.
“We were terrible from the start of (the DMR),” head coach John McDonnell said. “We didn’t compete. It’s not that they aren’t in shape. It looked like our guys were just out there going through the motions.”
Weighing most on McDonnell’s mind is the competition that his squad will face in the upcoming weeks at the SEC and NCAA Indoor Championships.
“This is pretty disturbing because this is our last meet before the conference championships,” McDonnell said. “We didn’t have a very good send off and I usually like to have a good meet before conference.”
Even though he wasn’t pleased with his own performance, Nkosinza Balumbu was the lone shining moment on Saturday when he improved his season best to 52-1.75 with a fourth-place finish in the championship triple jump. Balumbu hit the mark of his first attempt and couldn’t better it after the final five.
“I came in wanting to win the meet and put my staple on the event,” Balumbu said. “That didn’t happen today so I have to go on to the next event. I just wanted to win the event and make sure (my teammates) were behind me battling for second. Winning the meet is always most important and setting a personal best is second.”
Looking to be one of the premiere events for the Hogs, the distance medley relay got off to a rough start with a weak 1,200-meter leg from Adam Perkins. He handed the stick off for the 400-meter leg to Clemore Henry with the squad in seventh place. Henry managed to pick off three teams and met Brian Roe at the exchange in fourth. Roe’s 800 meters kept the team steadily in fourth when he handed to mile-anchor leg Colin Costello.
“(Colin Costello) did all he could,” McDonnell said. “He went out in 54 seconds in the first 400 (meters) trying to catch up. He tried hard.”
Costello, running the best leg of the four, immediately passed the Baylor anchor and moved into third place behind Texas and Oklahoma. He battled with Oklahoma’s anchor for the whole leg and passed him with about three laps to go, all the while chasing down Texas’ anchor Leo Manzano. The Sooners surged ahead and left the Hogs in third with a time of 9:49.91. Texas won the race with a time of 9:38.86. Oklahoma finished second (9:44.59).
Peter Kosgei registered another provisional time in the 3,000 meters but didn’t improve his season best. He earned a bronze finish in the championship 3,000 meters with his clocking of 7:57.29.
Kosgei was sitting in second after the first mile and stayed there behind David Cherome of Virginia Intermont when pacer Alistair Cragg stepped off the track at the 2,000-meter mark. Kosgei surged to the lead at the 7:15 mark but couldn’t hold on as Lopez Lomong of Northern Arizona passed him at the start of the bell lap. Max Smith of Providence, the eventual race winner, took the lead from Lomong on the last curve and finished with a time of 7:55.18.
The Razorbacks will return to competition in two weeks at the 2007 SEC Indoor Championships, hosted by the University of Kentucky, Feb. 23-25. Arkansas has a lot of ground to cover if their hunt for a 43rd national title is a reality.
“It’s an attitude,” McDonnell said. “If you want to win, you have to work. It’s too late if they don’t want it. You can’t make people do what they don’t want to do.”
For complete results of the Tyson Invitational, visit www.hogwired.com or www.tysoninvitational.org.