Lincoln Claims Third-Straight Steeplechase Cro
BY ANDRES FOCIL
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Despite nearly a three-hour rain delay, the Razorbacks continued their success on the third day of the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships as senior Daniel Lincoln captured his third-straight SEC steeplechase title and helped extend Arkansas’ lead.
Arkansas now has 51 points through seven events, followed by Georgia’s 48. Tennessee is next in third with 40. Auburn has 35 points in fourth and Florida is fifth with 23.
“We had a great meet today,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “Lincoln’s performance was amazing. His career has been nothing short of phenomenal and it’s not over. He’s mister consistent. I’m sure going to miss him when he graduates. But I wish Aagaard and Alkin could have gotten some points.
“I think we’re in good position to win,” McDonnell said. “We’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing. We just have to continue on that path and can control our own destiny. If our guys are capable of what they’re doing we’ll be in good shape.”
Lincoln took the early lead in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and never looked back as he cruised to victory with a time of 8:32.84. Lincoln becomes only the third Razorback to claim the conference steeplechase title three years in a row. Richard Cooper won in the Southwest Conference from 1987-89 and Matt Kerr won in 1997-99. It also marks the eighth time in 11 years that an Arkansas athlete has brought home the trophy.
“I wish the other guys on the team could have done better,” Lincoln said. “I thought I’d break away early, but I ended up stringing everyone along when a few guys stayed up with me in the beginning. I wasn’t paying much attention to the time, I just wanted to get the 10 points for us.”
Also running in the event sophomore transfer Phillip Aagaard was 13th (9:35.41) and junior Westley Alkin was 15th (9:47.49).
Earlier in the afternoon, junior Ramon Washington finished in third place in the long jump with a mark of 25-3.50, while senior Richard Smith was right behind in fourth with 25-0.75. Both of their marks were earned in the prelims and put up 11 points for the Razorbacks to give them a total of 40.
The pole vault was the last event of the night as it wrapped up at nearly midnight. Senior Josh Roberts cleared a career-best height of 16-4.75 to come in eighth and tack on one point to make Arkansas’ total 51.
As expected the Razorbacks dominated in the prelims of the 1,500-meter run and qualified all five of their runners to the nine-man final field. Junior Chris Mulvaney finished first in his heat with a time of 3:48.03, while sophomore Said Ahmed came in first in the other heat with a time of 3:47.98. Sophomores Michael Taylor (3:48.23) and James Hatch (3:48.36) and senior Chad Grundy (3:49.24) were next as they crossed the line two, three and four. Grundy’s time was also a career-best.
“Grundy making the finals is fantastic,” McDonnell said. “He’s come a long way and worked hard to get where he is. Carroll did a super job. For him to double in the finals of the 100 and 200 is very important for us.”
In other track action sophomore Ahmad Carroll posted a time of 10.37 in the prelims of the 100-meter dash as he came in second in his heat to advance to the finals, which will be run Sunday at 7:20 p.m.
Junior Michael Thomas posted a career-best time of 13.50 in the prelims of the 110-meter hurdles to finish second in his heat behind NCAA indoors champion Jabari Greer of Tennessee. Thomas’ time qualified him for the finals and also put him at second on UA’s all-time outdoor top 10 list. The finals will take place Sunday at 6:40 p.m.
“It felt really good,” Thomas said. “They say when you run fast you feel like you’re running slow. It’s true. It didn’t feel like I was running fast. But it’s just the prelims, I need to do well in the finals too.”
The final day of the SEC Championships will start with the discus at 2:30 p.m., and conclude with the 4×400-meter relay at 9:30 p.m. If the Hogs win, it will be there first SEC triple crown since the 1999-2000 season.
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