Hogs Pick Up Five New NCAA Qualifiers in Front
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas picked up five new qualifiers and posted a total of seven NCAA qualifying marks as the Razorbacks competed in front of a meet record 4,386 on the second day of the Tyson Invitational at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
The Hogs parlayed the 3,000 meters into two automatic times and one provisional split in front of a vocal and partisan crowd.
Sophomore Alistair Cragg paced the field in the 3,000 meters for most of the race and finished second in a time of 7:56.40. Junior Daniel Lincoln was not far behind posting a time of 7:57.94 to place fourth. Both Cragg and Lincoln bested the automatic qualifying standard and insured their place at the NCAA Indoor Championships. In addition, freshman Jason Sandfort tallied a provisional qualifying time of 8:07.28 while finishing 10th.
“I was pleased with all of our guys in the 3,000,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “Alistair, I just love that guy. He isn’t afraid to take the lead and mix it up with the best in the world and that is what he did. I think if the pace would’ve been a little faster earlier, he would have run faster.”
McDonnell was also pleased with the 3,000-meter performances of a Razorback veteran and a UA newcomer.
“Daniel Lincoln was great too,” McDonnell said. “He is getting over sickness. He had a virus. I was glad to see that. Then Sandfort, especially for a freshman, is special. He is getting better and better.”
While the 3,000 meters lived up to expectations, the mile run didn’t quite live up to McDonnell’s pre-meet billing. Senior Dirk Heinze finished fourth and posted an automatic qualifying time of 4:00.32, but didn’t improve on his season best. Sophomore Chris Mulvaney placed eighth in 4:01.63 while sophomore Silverus Kimeli finished 12th with a time of 4:10.85.
“Of course here I am disappointed with a guy that ran right at four minutes, but I thought he could run a lot better,” McDonnell said. “Dirk has been having some problems with his sinuses. All in all, my expectations in the mile were really high. Those guys were in good shape. We may have let too many people in the race.”
Arkansas boasted three competitors in the 60-meter hurdle finals. Sophomore Michael Thomas finished second in the event and earned a NCAA provisional qualifying time of 7.85. Thomas became the second Razorback to post a provisional time in the 60-meter hurdles this season along with teammate junior Eddie Jackson.
Jackson also competed in the finals and placed fourth in a time of 7.89, one day after setting a school record (7.82) in the event in the preliminary round. Senior Sam Glover rounded out the UA finishers by coming across the line 11th in 8.16.
“It was a good race for Michael, especially after the start,” Arkansas sprints and hurdles coach Doug Williamson said. “His first two hurdles weren’t very good, but he recovered and got a provisional time. I know Eddie was disappointed, but he is so much more consistent this year. Even in a down race for him, he still got a provisional.”
In other track action, freshman Said Ahmed finished eighth in the 800 meters with a time of 1:50.45.
Arkansas’ other two provisional marks came in field events. Sophomore Maurice Robinson placed seventh, but earned a qualifying leap of 51-3.50 in the triple jump. It was a season best for Robinson and earned the Hogs’ their first qualifying mark in the jumps.
“You are always glad to have improvement,” Arkansas field events coach Dick Booth said. “You are just looking for a little better, a little better, a little better. We are going to go back and look at the film, study and fix things that aren’t right. We aren’t happy or content, but progress is always progress.”
Junior Richard Smith also competed in the triple jump on Saturday night. Smith finished ninth after jumping 50-3.50.
Razorback freshman Jonathan Reeves earned the other provisional mark in the shot put. Reeves posted a throw of 57-7.50 on his way to a fifth-place finish.
“I was real happy with Jonathan Reeves tonight,” Booth said. “He has been sick all week. He had the flu real bad a couple of days ago. I didn’t know how that would affect him mentally, but I knew with a few days off he was going to be fresh physically. I was real happy for him to get a foot improvement.”
After the weekend’s action, Arkansas boasts a total of three automatic and 10 provisional times and marks. The Razorbacks will travel to Ames, Iowa, next weekend for the Iowa State Invitational before returning to the Randal Tyson Track Center to host the Southeastern Conference Championships on Feb. 23-24.
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