Gay Breaks School Record with World-Leading 19
BY ANDRES FOCIL
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The top-ranked Razorbacks turned in more outstanding performances on the second day of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships and have a total of nine points from the 10,000 meters, putting them in fourth place. Texas is in first with 15 points, while Arizona and Texas A&M are tied for second place with 10 a piece.
The most exciting highlight occurred in the semifinals of the 200-meter dash when senior Tyson Gay took over Wallace Spearmon Jr.’s time on the world-leading list and blazed to a school record time of 19.93. Gay beat out a talented field of competitors for the heat-winning finish, including SEC and NCAA Mideast champion, Xavier Carter of LSU (20.14).
Gay is quickly becoming a fan of the track at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex. When the U.S. Olympic Trials were held at the venue last summer he posted a then UA record and career-best time of 20.07. The defending NCAA 100-meter champion is now fourth on the all-time collegiate list and is only the 17th American to run under 20 seconds, placing him among an elite group of athletes. With his remarkable 19.93 clocking Gay made Arkansas the first school to ever have two sub-20 sprinters on a team at the same time. Spearmon’s time of 19.97 came at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 17.
“It was a pretty hot heat,” Gay said. “I didn’t want to run that fast, but I had no choice. I thought I had run 20.2 until I saw the scoreboard. The first thing I thought was I got the school record back and now I’m a member of the 19 club. I was really motivated after the 4×100 relay yesterday, because I knew we could have fun faster. I feel very confident for the finals.”
More good news kept coming when senior Omar Brown grabbed the final qualifying spot when he ran a personal-best time of 20.47. Spearmon was in the second heat and earned runner-up honors with a time of 20.31.
“We’re excited and hopefully it will help the team,” Arkansas sprints coach Lance Brauman said. “To have two sub-20 guys is something special. I don’t know the last time a team had that. I’m fortunate to have a really good group of talented guys. Now it’s just a matter of getting ready for the finals of the relay.”
Their performances will make for a final loaded with Arkansas jerseys and they will look to score important points for the team, with hopes for a memorable 1-2-3 finish. Before they can lineup for the 200 final on Saturday at 7:10 p.m., they must compete in the 4×100-meter relay. The group boasts the nation’s second-fastest time (38.75), behind Arizona State’s 38.71.
The 10,000 meters was the final running event for the night and a trio of Hog distance runners were aiming to rack up points for the team. Sophomore Peter Kosgei was UA’s top finisher with a third-place performance and turned in a time of 28:39.29. Kosgei had run a tough 3,000-meter steeplechase the night before, but he didn’t let that slow him down as he passed Colorado’s Bret Schoolmeester for the third scoring position on the final lap.
Junior Josphat Boit was also coming off from running the 5,000 meters the night before. He ended up coming in sixth place (28:52.69). Boit was entering the meet with his school record time of 28:07.27 that was second on the NCAA’s descending order list. Kosgei and Boit’s finishes garnered nine points for Arkansas and gave them both their third All-America honors.
Senior Jason Sandfort concluded his career as a Razorback when he finished in 12th place (29:14.75) in the 10K. He garnered his eighth All-America honor.
“It wasn’t quiet as good as I thought we could get,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “I was thinking we’d get 12 points, but it’s not a disaster. They’re doubling and that’s tough. Peter really dug in and got the job done after running a tough steeple.”
The prelims of the 1,500 meters immediately followed the 200 meters and sophomore Adam Perkins was UA’s only runner in the event, helping carry on Arkansas’ tradition in the metric mile. Perkins stayed with the front pack as the race opened with a fast pace, favoring the NCAA Mideast champion. He continued to power around the track and crossed the line in third with a career-best time of 3:39.82, improving his previous personal-best (3:44.53) by nearly five seconds. His finish automatically advanced him to the finals and he is looking forward to keeping his hot streak alive on Saturday at 6:20 p.m.
Senior James Hatch ran his final race as a Razorback on Thursday when he was unable to advance to the finals of the 800 meters. The SEC outdoor champion was entering the meet as the indoor 800-meter national runner-up and was being counted on to score points for the team, but ran a time of 1:52.92 in the semis.
Arkansas had only one athlete compete in a field event. In the prelims of the high jump sophomore Greg Martin was unable to clear the opening height of 6-8.75.
The Razorbacks will have a late start on Friday as the javelin and triple jump are the first field events at 5 p.m. Junior Eric Brown is going for the title as he holds the nation’s third-best throw in the javelin, while senior Jaanus Uudmae needs to advance to the finals of the triple jump. Senior P.J. Brown is in position to score in the finals of the pole vault at 6:30 p.m.
The first running event, the 4×100-meter relay, is also at 6:30 p.m. The finals of the 3,000-meter steeplechase with Kosgei leading the NCAA are set for 6:50 p.m., and senior Terry Gatson will compete in the semis of the 400-meter dash at 7:25 p.m.
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