Razorbacks Look to Reclaim Outdoor Conference
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – When John McDonnell and the second-ranked Razorbacks travel to Knoxville, Tenn., on May 15-18, they will be in search of a Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championship. If they prevail under tough conference competition it will mark Arkansas’ 19th outdoor conference title in 22 years. With the last outdoor crown coming in 2000, the Razorbacks are eager to make a return to the top of the podium.
“We have a tough battle ahead with Tennessee, Florida and LSU,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “I don’t think there’s 15 points separating the top four the way I have it figured. I’ve never seen a conference meet that was so even. We can only do what we are capable of doing.
“We just have to score huge points in the 800, 1,500, steeplechase, 5,000 and 10,000 for us to win it,” McDonnell said. “We have a shot and that’s all anybody can ask for. We’re in the ballpark, we just have to make it happen. We can make it happen if we have a good meet and go down there with the attitude that we can win it. I think our guys our ready.”
Junior Tom Crowder will start the weekend off on Thursday when he competes in the decathlon. At the SEC Indoor Championships Crowder provided unexpected points for the Hogs in the pentathlon and hopes to do the same this weekend.
UA will send a strong corps of distance and middle distance runners to rack up points at Tom Black Track, with several athletes competing in more than one event. Senior Daniel Lincoln captured three individual titles last year in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, 5,000 and 10,000-meter runs to give the Hogs 30 points. He hopes to accomplish the same thing this year as he competes in the same events.
Joining Lincoln in the steeplechase is junior Westley Alkin and sophomore transfer Phillip Aagaard. Alkin is also running in the 5,000 meters with four other Razorbacks, including juniors Alistair Cragg and Silverus Kimeli, sophomore Jason Sandfort and freshman Luis Bordes. Those same four runners who hope to help the UA sweep the 5K will also compete in the 10,000 meters.
The Hogs are expected to dominate in the 1,500-meter run as they currently hold the six top times in the conference. Junior Chris Mulvaney will try to defend his title as senior Chad Grundy, sophomores Said Ahmed, James Hatch and Michael Taylor join him in the race. They will also all run in the 800 meters with junior Robbie Stevens.
Razorback sprinters and hurdlers will look to make an impact in their respective events. Sophomore Ahmad Carroll is running the 100 and 200-meter dash. Senior Eddie Jackson and junior Michael Thomas are in the 110-meter hurdles.
Three Hogs, including senior Josh Landreth, junior transfer Maurice Bridges and freshmen Brad Dittoe are running in the 400-meter hurdles.
Two relay teams are taking to the track as well. A 4×100-meter relay team of Carroll, Jackson, Smith and Thomas will face tough competition from other league schools such as Mississippi State and LSU. The 4×400-meter relay team includes Bridges, Dittoe, Landreth and Stevens who turned in a top time of 3:10.59 at the Mt. SAC Relays.
In field events action freshman Eric Brown is throwing the javelin, while freshman Tony Ugoh is throwing the discus. Senior Josh Roberts and sophomore Jimmy Duke are slated to compete in the pole vault. Sophomore Cory Oldham is Arkansas’ lone representative in the high jump.
Senior Richard Smith, junior Ramon Washington and sophomore transfer Jaanus Uudmae will each double up and compete in the long and triple jumps with the capability to tally substantial points for Arkansas.
Events for the decathlon begin Thursday at 4:30 p.m., with the 100-meter dash and conclude Friday May 16 at 9:40 p.m., with the 1,500-meter run. Saturday’s events are from 3:30-9:10 p.m., and Sunday’s events take place from 2:30-9:30 p.m. (All times Eastern)
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