Eleven Current and Former Razorbacks Prepare f
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Eleven current and former Razorback track and field athletes will compete at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Carson, Calif., in hopes of securing a spot on the World Championship team. The meet begins on Thursday, June 23 and runs through Sunday, June 26.
Each athlete must finish in the top three of their respective event and gain the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) “A” standard to go on to Helsinki, Finland for the World Championships on August 6-14.
The UA sprint squad will have a strong contingent going up against America’s top veteran professionals that include defending Olympians and world champions such as Justin Gatlin, Maurice Greene and Shawn Crawford. Wallace Spearmon Jr., and Tyson Gay are entering the meet with the world’s top two 200-meter times in 2005. Spearmon, a three-time NCAA 200-meter champion recorded his clocking of 19.91 in the finals of the NCAA Championships, while Gay posted his time of 19.93 in the prelims. Gay is also entered in the 100-meter dash with his performance of 10.19 from the SEC Championships.
At last year’s Olympic Trials Gay was the only collegiate to advance to the finals, but was forced to drop out of the race when his hamstring flared up.
“I feel like last year I missed out on a special opportunity to make the Olympic team,” Gay said. “This year I feel I will be able to step up to the plate. As long as I stay hydrated and mentally prepared I’ll be able to make the team.”
Spearmon set a then personal-best in the prelims, but was unable to survive the four rounds of qualifying. With top-notch competition the Razorback duo will both have to turn in quality performances through three rounds if they expect to make the U.S. team.
“I learned that you have to spread your energy out,” Spearmon said. “Last year we had four rounds and this year we’ll have three. I had to learn last year that in the first round some of pros are stronger, because they’re used to this and they’ll go out there and show off. That’s not for everybody. This year I’ll try to run every round as easy as possible to get to the finals.”
Former Razorback Daniel Lincoln boasts the country’s best time in his signature event, the 3,000-meter steeplechase. The four-time NCAA champion registered a personal-best 8:15.02 at the 2004 Olympic Trials to win the race.
Another former All-American Hog that is leading the nation is Matt Hemingway. Hemingway is an Olympic silver medallist and is also ranked sixth in the world. His high jump mark of 7-8.00 is from the 2003 Modesto Relays.
In the 400 meters Terry Gatson has a top time of 44.93 that is sixth in the nation. His clocking came in the prelims of the NCAA meet and he will also encounter tough competition from fellow Americans as half of the world’s best runners are from the U.S.
Former Razorback Maurice Bridges is slated to compete in the 400-meter hurdles with an entry time of 50.63.
The middle distances will have sophomore two-time All-American Adam Perkins and SEC champion James Hatch taking to the track in the 1,500 and 800-meter runs, respectively. Perkins recently recorded a career-best time of 3:38.54 in the 1,500 meters at the NCAA Championships and his time is seventh among 33 entrants. Hatch obtained his personal-best and entry time of 1:47.35 after he won the SEC meet.
The field events will be well represented with Razorbacks. Junior Eric Brown will compete in the javelin with the nation’s fourth-best throw. His mark of 248-05 was earned at the McDonnell Invitational in April. Pole vaulter Jeremy Scott has a clearance of 18-4.50 from the Tyson Invitational and is tied for 11th on the descending order list.
The triple jump will enjoy the presence of two-time Olympian Melvin Lister who has a tendency to put up good performances at big meets. Lister is carrying the nation’s second-best mark with a 56-5.25 and is currently ranked at No. 14 in the world. Last year he captured the U.S. title with a then world-leading performance of 58-4.00.
Live results for the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships will be available on www.usatf.org and the meet will be televised on Saturday, June 25 on ESPN at 3-5 p.m. and on Sunday, June 26 on ESPN2 at 4-6 p.m. CT.
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