Razorbacks Capture 4xmile and 4×800 Titles at
BY ANDRES FOCIL
PHILADELPHIA, Penn. – In the drizzle and cool weather at Franklin Field the Arkansas Razorbacks redeemed themselves on the third day of the Penn Relays as they claimed the both the 4xmile and 4×800-meter relay titles.
“I was happy with it and I know the guys were too,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “They did a great job. It’s very satisfying to win two relays, because we haven’t started our speed work yet due to the restructuring with the regional meets. You cannot ask for a better atmosphere than Penn Relays.”
The Hogs successfully defended and claimed their 17th 4xmile relay title in 21 years with a time of 16:16.22, while the second place team, Villanova, turned in a distant 16:31.63. UA was the heavy favorite coming into the race as they fielded a team with three NCAA champions.
Sophomore Said Ahmed ran the lead leg with a time of 4:09.2. Ahmed almost got boxed in during the beginning of race, but took the lead on the third lap ahead of Villanova and Iona. Ahmed passed the baton to senior Daniel Lincoln. Lincoln gave the Hogs a commanding lead with a split time of 3:58.5, as he handed off to NCAA Indoor mile champion, junior Chris Mulvaney. Mulvaney maintained the 100-meter lead and extended it to 150 meters with a time of 4:05.5. Junior Alistair Cragg anchored the relay and held the lead to cross the line with a split of 4:03.
“I would think about yesterday’s race and try to put it behind me,” Cragg said. “Today, I went out with a little more aggression, because we could have gone for a very fast time today, but the bottom line is we came out here to win. We didn’t want to forget about that.”
The Razorbacks captured only their second 4×800-meter relay crown since competing for 21 years at the Penn Relays with a winning time of 7:16.09. The last time they won the event was in 1999.
Mulvaney ran the first leg and rode behind the leader, Kentucky, with a split time of 1:50.3. He handed off to sophomore James Hatch who pulled the Hogs into the lead with 50 meters left past the Wildcats and Georgetown with a time of 1:48.2. He then passed the baton to junior Robbie Stevens who held the lead with a fast split time of 1:48.1. Sophomore Michael Taylor extended their first place advantage for the clear victory with a time of 1:49.5.
“After the DMR we knew we had to win this one; there was no if’s, and’s or but’s about it,” Taylor said. “There was so much crowd noise that I thought Georgetown was going to catch me, but I just put my head down and ran as fast as I could.”
In additional track action senior Chad Grundy ran a career-best in the mile with a time of 4:06.95 as he crossed the line in 10th.
Sophomore Ahmad Carroll ran a time of 10.61 in the finals of the 100-meter dash for fifth place, while in the finals of the 110-meter hurdles junior Michael Thomas crossed the line in sixth with a 13.88.
Four UA athletes competed in the 400-meter hurdles at the beginning of the day. Freshman Brad Dittoe was the high finisher when he finished fifth in his heat and 28th overall with a time of 53.36. Senior Josh Landreth also came in fifth in his heat, but was 32nd overall with 53.69. In his first time to run in the event this season freshman David Wittenmyer posted a 56.35 as he crossed the line eighth in his heat and 52nd overall. Junior transfer Maurice Bridges would have run a 51.68, but was disqualified after he hooked the second hurdle.
In his first competition since the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships junior Maurice Robinson posted a regional qualifying mark of 50-10.25 in the triple jump for a sixth place showing and freshman Eric Brown threw 190-10 in the javelin.
After the Hogs return from Philadelphia, Penn., they will send several of their distance runners to Palo Alto, Calif., for the Stanford Invitational on May 3.
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