Kosgei Captures Steeplechase; Arkansas Remains
BY ANDRES FOCIL
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Arkansas brought home another individual championship on Saturday at the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships, but remains in second place with 44 points. Tennessee is holding onto the top spot with 48 points and Florida is third with 40 points.
“We’re doing good and I think we’re right where we want to be,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “We got good qualifiers for tomorrow and we can control our on destiny. We just can’t make any mistakes. I wish we could have gotten more points from the high jump and long jump, but we got more than we were expecting out of the steeplechase.”
Sophomore Peter Kosgei became the ninth Razorback in 14 years to win the 3,000-meter steeplechase. He crossed the line with a Vanderbilt Track record time of 8:36.73. Kosgei dominated the race when he immediately took the lead and stayed about 100 meters in front of the rest of the field. It was Kosgei’s third-career SEC title, after he won the indoor 3,000 and 5,000-meter crowns.
“After the 1,500 meters I didn’t want the other guys to think that I was tired, so I wanted to show them that I could take it out,” Kosgei said. “Tomorrow I’m going to prepare for the 1,500 meters since Said (Ahmed) is out and depending how we do after that we’ll decide whether or not I’m going to run the 5,000.”
Junior Jose Campos also scored in the steeplechase when he finished in fifth place with a career-best time of 8:59.05, while redshirt freshman Tyler Hill was running in his first steeplechase and finished 10th (9:18.90). With their performances they added 14 points to Arkansas’ total and put the Hogs in a tie with Tennessee with 43 points.
During the steeplechase the finals of the long jump were taking place and it was an event Arkansas could use to move itself ahead of the Vols into first place. Unfortunately, the Hogs were only able to get one point from the long jump, while Tennessee garnered five.
Senior Jaanus Uudmae picked up that point with an eighth-place finish that was decided by a tie-breaker. He recorded a mark of 24-3.50. Sophomore Greg Martin came in 10th (24-0.75).
Earlier in the evening Arkansas got all three of its 1,500-meter runners qualified for the finals by virtue of their top-four finishes. Sophomore Adam Perkins won the first heat with the fastest qualifying time of 3:47.08. In the second heat it was Kosgei who came in first with a new NCAA regional qualifying time of 3:47.89. Junior Seth Summerside was also able to register a new regional standard as he crossed the line in third with a career-best clocking of 3:48.16. The finals are scheduled for 6:20 p.m. on Sunday and the three Hogs will have to put forth an extra effort, with pre-meet favorite senior Said Ahmed out of the race after he suffered a hamstring injury in the prelims of the 800 meters.
The 400 meters were next and both seniors Omar Brown and Terry Gatson advanced to the finals by winning their respective heats. Gatson had the fastest qualifying time when he registered a season-best 45.57, while Brown posted a 46.60. The finals of the 400 are slated for Sunday at 7 p.m.
In the 100-meter dash two of four Hogs moved on to the finals. Sophomore Wallace Spearmon Jr., finished first in his heat with a time of 10.37, while defending SEC champion senior Tyson Gay was second is his heat with a time of 10.28. The finals will be contested on Sunday at 7:20 p.m. Gay and Spearmon will lineup again for the finals of the 200 meters at 8:25 p.m.
Freshman Michael Grant just missed qualifying to the finals after he posted the ninth-fastest time of 10.50. Sophomore Creighton Kiper ran 10.75.
A four-hour rain delay that occurred in the middle of the afternoon pushed back the running events by 15 minutes and moved the pole vault that would have started at 6 p.m., to noon on Sunday. It also disrupted the high jump, causing the field events to get off to a rough start for the Razorbacks.
Junior Tony Ugoh was unable to move on to the final flight of the discus after he threw 159-02 in the prelims with strong tail winds reeking havoc on the throwers. Ugoh was entering the meet with a seed mark of 172-01 and today’s performance placed him in 10th.
When the high jump was concluded Martin finished in sixth with a clearance of 6-10.75 and gave UA three points. Martin was second in the league entering the meet with a height of 7-0.50. Senior Cory Oldham just missed a scoring position when he finished ninth (6-6.75).
On Sunday Arkansas will look to continue to tally points in search of its 12th SEC outdoor crown and 76th overall conference championship. UA will receive help from a trio of field athletes that are all leading the league in their respective events. Senior P.J. Brown will compete in the pole vault, junior Eric Brown is in the javelin at 6 p.m., and senior Jaanus Uudmae is entered in the triple jump at 7 p.m. Freshman Chessly Johnson is also in the triple jump.
The 4×100-meter relay will also start at 6 p.m. Even though the Hogs are the defending champions, they were placed in the slow heat with their time of 40.21 from the Penn Relays. The team of Grant, Spearmon, Gay, and Brown will have to fight for a better performance in hopes of claiming another crown.
The 800 meters has senior James Hatch and junior Harun Iman at 7:40 p.m., and the 5,000 meters will be loaded with nine Hogs, including junior Josphat Boit, who won the 10K on Friday night, senior Jason Sandfort, juniors Marc Rodrigues, Campos and Summerside, sophomores Adam Perkins and Kosgei and freshmen Shawn Forrest and Tyler Hill.
The 4×400-meter relay could be run by either Brown, Gatson, Hatch, Spearmon or Stevens.
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