LEXINGTON, Ky. – In the hunt for its 81st conference title, Arkansas track and field sits in first place after the first full day of competition at the 2007 SEC Indoor Championships.
The Razorbacks earned 12 All-Southeastern Conference honors en route to scoring 46 points. The Florida Gators are sitting in second place with 34 points and Georgia rounds out the top three with 26 points.
“When you score 46 points on the first day, that’s a good day,” head coach John McDonnell said. “We are ahead of where we thought we would be. We figured 17 points in (the 3,000 meters) and we got 17 points.”
The Razorback jump crew started the day off with 27 points as the high and long jumps were contested at the same time.
“I’m thrilled for Brent (Rosson),” field events coach Dick Booth said. “He’s been working very hard. Now he’s having fun and scoring points.”
In the high jump, after Greg Martin no heighted, Brent Rosson stepped up to deliver five important points with a fourth-place finish, the first all-conference honor of his career and a personal-best clearance of 6-9.75.
Alain Bailey, setting two personal bests and earning 14 points in his first SEC Championship appearance, missed his first attempt at 6-6 after running over from the long jump. Bailey then cleared 6-8, 6-9.75 and 6-11.5 all on his first attempts.
“Alain (Bailey) was running back and forth all morning,” Booth said. “He’s a horse. He had a personal best in the high jump and was only (six inches) back in the long jump. We got it off to a good start.”
After missing his first two attempts at 7-0.5, Bailey went back to the long jump for good and ended his high jump competition. He finished third and scored six more points for the Hogs.
“I’m very happy with my first SEC Championship so far,” Bailey said. “Coming from Jamaica, I’m still getting used to competing inside. I had season bests in both jumps.”
Back at the long jump pit, Bailey couldn’t better his prelim best of 25-4. He finished in second-place, good for his second all-conference honor of the day, behind Florida’s Michael Morrison (25-4.5) who also competed in the high jump.
“I just wanted to give the team a chance to win the meet,” Bailey said. “We expected a lot of points out of the jumpers. Everybody needs to do their part and I think we did ours.”
Mychael Stewart, now a four-time All-SEC performer, finished fourth and earned five points for the team total. Stewart marked a leap of 24-4.5 on his second attempt and could not better his mark in the finals.
Daniel Quinn earned the third All-SEC honor of his career with a seventh-place finish and a jump of 23-2 coming on his first attempt. Nkosinza Balumbu rounded out the top eight with a leap of 22-11.75, a new long jump best and his first all-conference honor in the event.
The 3,000 meter was expected to be a huge point-scorer for the Hogs and it was, just not in a traditional fashion. Barnabus Kirui of Ole Miss, the 2006 SEC cross country champion, followed by Hogs Adam Perkins, Matt Munoz, Scott MacPherson, James Strang and Peter Kosgei, led for most of the race. With about two laps to go the Hogs were in position to take four of the top five sports.
“We got the points that we thought we would but we didn’t get the points that it looked like we could have had,” McDonnell said. “It could have been really big if our top guys performed (like they should have). There were some guys in the back that did a tremendous job, Matt Munoz, James Strang and Scott MacPherson. (MacPherson) had a goal of winning it. I thought Peter (Kosgei) could win it but he never made a go at it. He has to do better tomorrow in the 5,000 meters.”
MacPherson took the lead from Kirui with Emmanuel Bor of Alabama and Ian Burrell of Georgia right on his heels as Perkins and Kosgei faded. Bor and Burrell made quick moves past MacPherson and out-kicked him to the finish.
“We had a pretty good game plan going in,” MacPherson said. “It didn’t really unfold like we wanted it to. I think the guys needed this race to wake them up a little bit. After seeing Colin (Costello) and Brian (Roe) go 1-2 in their heat of the 800 meters, it got me really pumped up. That’s what running like a Hog is about. That’s what we came to Arkansas to do. I was ready to hurt and it got me during the last 200 meters. I am ready for the 5K.”
Burrell was the eventual race winner with a time of 8:03.48. MacPherson earned a bronze finish, his highest at an SEC Championship event, with a clocking of 8:06.03.
“I was expecting to follow Peter (Kosgei),” MacPherson said. “He was going to go and then I was going to go and we were going to see who won. I knew Peter was favored over me but when it came down to about 600 meters left, I didn’t see anyone making a move and if I was going to do it, I had to do it then.”
Kosgei, the favorite coming in, finished fourth (8:06.412), Munoz was sixth (8:08.85), Strang was seventh (8:10.35) and Perkins rounded out the scoring eight with a time of 8:13.87.
Boris Roslov finished seventh overall, chipping in two points to the team total, in the heptathlon that concluded on Saturday. Roslov clocked a 9.20 in the 60-meter hurdles, cleared 12-11.5 in the pole vault and ended the day with a 3:06.26 in the 1,000 meters. His marks in both the pole vault and the 1,000 meters are personal bests.
Hoping to add to Arkansas’ point total on Sunday, the Razorbacks will have nine entries in Sunday’s finals.
“We have good people going tomorrow,” McDonnell said. “The triple jump should be big for us. We are in a good position, we really are. We can control our on destiny if we go out tomorrow and compete like we did today.”
In the 60 meters, Stewart and J-Mee Samuels automatically advanced to the Sunday’s finals after finishing in the top two in their respective heats. Both clocked NCAA provisional-qualifying times of 6.72. It’s Samuels’ fifth qualifying time in the event while Stewart clocked his first qualifying time in the event. Stewart has three provisional-qualifying marks in the long jump.
Samuels will also compete in the 200-meter finals on Sunday after clocking the fourth-fastest prelim time of 21.19. The time, the fastest he has run in a Razorback uniform, is also an NCAA provisional-qualifying clocking.
The mile run will also boost Arkansas chances of winning its 81st conference title as four Razorbacks advanced to the finals. The top three finishers in each heat and the next four fastest times advance to Sunday’s finals.
In the first heat, Colin Costello was the second finisher with his time of 4:11.93. Teammate Daniel LaCava also advanced automatically after finishing third in the first heat (4:12.05).
In the second heat, Adam Perkins finished fourth but advanced by his clocking of 4:06.70. Micky Cobrin also advanced on time after finishing fifth in the second heat with his time of 4:10.92.
Brian Roe and Costello put on a show in the 800 meters. Both running in the third heat of the event, Roe stayed in the top three for most of the race with Costello floating among the top five. With Roe leading down the home stretch and a late charge from Costello, the duo finished first and second with times of 1:52.19 and 1:52.41, respectively.
Events will resume on Sunday at 11 a.m. EST with the triple jump. In addition to the finals of the running events, the 5,000 meters and the distance medley relay, also expected to be stellar events for the Hogs, will conclude the competition Sunday night. For complete results of the 2007 SEC Indoor Championships, visit www.ukathletics.com.
2007 All-SEC Performers
Scott MacPherson: 3,000 meters, 3rd
Peter Kosgei: 3,000 meters, 4th
Matt Munoz: 3,000 meters, 6th
James Strang: 3,000 meters, 7th
Adam Perkins: 3,000 meters, 8th
Boris Roslov: heptathlon, 7th
Alain Bailey: high jump, 3rd; long jump 2nd
Brent Rosson: high jump, 4th
Mychael Stewart: long jump, 4th
Daniel Quinn: long jump, 7th
Nkosinza Balumbu: long jump, 8th