Meyo Invitational Produces Good Times, but Few
BY ANDRES FOCIL
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The No. 1 ranked Razorbacks had high hopes of qualifying themselves for the NCAA Championships at Notre Dame’s Meyo Invitational, but were able to come away with only three new qualifiers as they captured five meet titles.
“We had some good performances, but we also had some inexperienced mistakes,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “All in all, it was a good meet for us. Terry Gatson, Tyson Gay and Chris Mulvaney looked great out there. In the mile Sam (Vazquez) and Adam (Perkins) ran good times but they just made some young mistakes. It was a reality check for the guys to see the type of competition that is out there.”
Sophomore transfer Tyson Gay captured both the 60 and 200-meter dash titles in meet record times. The Lexington, Ky., native lined up in the 60 first and gained a provisional qualifying time of 6.66. The 200 meters was next on the schedule as Gay put the race away with a provisional time of 20.97.
Junior transfer Terry Gatson also claimed an individual title when he ran a meet record and a new NCAA provisional qualifying time of 46.39 in the 400-meter dash. It marked Gatson’s first time to run the event during the indoor season and also put him at third on UA’s all-time top 10 list. Senior Maurice Bridges joined Gatson in the race and put up a time of 47.62 for fourth place, while junior Chason Pompey was 27th (49.49).
The Hogs swept the top two spots in the 800-meter race when senior All-American Chris Mulvaney earned a new NCAA provisional qualifying time of 1:48.60. Junior James Hatch garnered second place with another provisional time of 1:50.02. Freshman Ryan Botha was also in the race and crossed the line in sixth (1:50.70), while sophomores David Wittenmyer and Brad Dittoe were 11th (1:52.72) and 21st (1:55.79), respectively.
The 4×400-meter relay team of Bridges, junior transfer Omar Brown, Hatch and Gatson put together a new NCAA provisional qualifying time of 3:09.52 to finish in a close second place behind SEC conference foe Ole Miss (3:09.13).
In field events action senior P.J. Brown tied for first in the pole vault after he registered a height of 16-2.75 and junior Jimmy Duke tied for fourth (15-9.00).
The 60-meter hurdles started the day as senior All-American Michael Thomas earned runner-up honors with a provisional time of 7.80, after running a 7.92 in the prelims.
Junior Cory Oldham also grabbed runner-up honors after he cleared a season-best 6-9.50 in the high jump. Freshman Greg Martin was unable to register a height.
The 3,000 meters was full of talented Razorback runners with junior All-American Jason Sandfort leading the charge. Sandfort put up a sixth place showing and a time of 8:08.08, narrowly missing the provisional qualifying time of 8:08.00. Sophomore transfer Matt Gunn registered a career-best time of 8:16.88 for 11th place. Freshmen Mike Poe and Josh Harper were 16th (8:22.32) and 21st (8:26.87), respectively.
The “Meyo Mile” had a loaded field of competitors with the winner, Nick Willis of Michigan, taking the tape with a fast time of 3:56.55. Arkansas freshmen Sam Vazquez and Adam Perkins tried to stay in the middle of the pack during the race, but in the end they posted finishes of 11th and 15th, respectively. Vazquez turned in a time of 4:05.84, just shy of the provisional cutoff and Perkins ran a season-best 4:07.66.
In the unseeded section of the mile sophomore transfer Eric Gross registered a season-best time of 4:13.87 for 11th place overall.
Freshman Creighton Kiper just missed qualifying to the finals of the 60-meter dash after he posted a time of 6.97 for 13th overall. Kiper also competed in the 200-meter dash and came in 13th (22.06), while Brown finished fourth (21.52) and Thomas was 25th (22.66).
After Arkansas returns from Indiana it will host the Tyson Foods Invitational on Feb. 13-14. The Razorbacks will have the opportunity to run against top collegiate competitors on Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. On Saturday USA Track and Field’s Golden Spike Tour will make its annual return with professional and Olympic caliber athletes taking to the track from 1-3 p.m.
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