Razorbacks Gain Five New Automatic Qualifiers;
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas got back to their winning ways and came a step closer to winning a national championship at the Tyson Invitational in front of a record crowd of 5,031 as they earned five new NCAA automatic qualifiers.
“Today everything fell into place,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “Alistair is in great shape. Daniel ran good, but he can do better. I was really happy for Wes; that was a great performance for him. We exceeded our goal with five new qualifiers and I know we’ll continue to get a few more there.”
In the first race of the evening junior All-America Alistair Cragg set a new UA record in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 13:35.93 as he claimed first place in the event. The previous record of 13:36.87 was held by Sean Kaley in 1999. His time also guaranteed him a spot at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.
“I knew coming into the race that I was capable of breaking the school record,” Cragg said. “We just wanted to qualify. We kept a good pace; Lincoln and I each changed the lead every half of a mile. I kicked in the last 800 meters to outrun the guy from SMU, and I also saw the time and wanted to do well.”
Senior All-American Daniel Lincoln came across the line next with an automatic qualifying time of 13:44.12. His time was a career-best and put him at second on Arkansas’ all-time indoor top 10 list.
Junior Westley Alkin also ran an automatic qualifying and career-best time of 13:55.98 when he crossed the line in sixth. Sophomore Jason Sandfort posted a time of 14:17.46 to finish 10th. The Hogs now have three runners automatically qualified in the event.
In the long jump senior Ramon Washington earned an automatic qualifying and career-best mark of 25-10.00 after he finished third behind Savante Stringfellow, an Olympic silver medalist and Miguel Pate, the 2002 USA Indoor champion. Senior Richard Smith posted a jump of 25-1.25 for seventh.
In the always-popular mile run junior Chris Mulvaney posted a NCAA automatic qualifying and career-best time of 3:58.94. He finished fourth against former Arkansas standouts Graham Hood and Seneca Lassiter. Mulvaney and Lincoln are now the two Razorbacks automatically qualified in the mile.
Sophomore Said Ahmed gained a provisional qualifying time of 1:50.13 in the 800-meter run to cross the line in fifth. Ahmed faced tough competition from other talented middle distance runners, including former two-time NCAA Indoor 800-meter champion and two-time U.S. Outdoor 800-meter champion, David Krummenacker, who captured the title.
In the second heat of the 60-meter dash sophomore Ahmad Carroll had the opportunity to go head-to-head against some of the world’s fastest men and ran a time of 6.72 to finish 11th overall and was unable to qualify for the finals.
After breaking the UA record last night in the 60-meter hurdles with an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 7.69, junior Michael Thomas ran a time of 7.82 to come in sixth in the professional portion today.
The Razorback distance medley relay team started off in the lead, but fell half a lap behind in the 800-meter portion of the event. All hand-offs went smoothly as sophomore Michael Taylor strongly led the first leg of the relay. He then passed the baton to senior Josh Landreth who extended the Hogs’ lead even more. Landreth handed off to junior Silverus Kimeli who fell behind three of the five the competing teams. The gap was too much to make up as sophomore James Hatch anchored the team to a fourth place finish (9:57.16).
Next weekend Coach McDonnell and his Hogs will take a break as they prepare for the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships on March 1-2, in Gainesville, Fla., before returning to Fayetteville, Ark., for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.
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