Razorbacks Shine at John McDonnell Invitationa
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The top-ranked Razorbacks had an outstanding home stand at the John McDonnell Invitational as they hosted their lone outdoor meet of the year. Despite strong wind gusts and cool temperatures Arkansas dominated and came away with 10 new regional qualifiers and nine individual meet titles.
“The most important thing is that we made it through the meet with no injuries,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “Some of the guys, especially the sprinters ran more controlled races, because of the cold temperatures. We also found ourselves a steeplechaser with Peter Kosgei. We thought he’d be good, but we had to see. Wallace did what he does best – win. To run 10.21 in these conditions is outstanding.”
Junior Eric Brown provided a highlight early in the day when he broke his own school-record in the javelin with a mark of 248-05 for first place. Brown was already regionally qualified in the event with a measurement of 237-11 from the Mt. SAC Relays, but his performance today improved his standing and was less than an inch from taking over the nation’s top spot.
“It’s always good to throw a personal best this early in the season,” Brown said. “It’s nice to keep the record and do it in front of a home crowd. I was glad that I threw more consistently today, because I had a couple bad throws during the first two meets.”
The 4×100-meter relay was the first seeded running event of the evening. The UA team of freshman Michael Grant, sophomore Wallace Spearmon Jr., and seniors Tyson Gay and Omar Brown gained an important regional qualifying time of 40.23 as they grabbed first place.
The 100-meter dash was next and quality times were produced in the finals with a 3.1 wind reading. Spearmon led the Hogs with a regional qualifying time of 10.21 as he finished first. Sophomore Creighton Kiper was next with a regional performance of 10.407 to take fourth place and Grant was very close behind with a clocking of 10.410 for fifth place.
In his first outdoor 200 since the United States Olympic Trials in July, Gay returned to track in anticipation of running a fast time in front of a hometown crowd. The NCAA outdoor 100-meter champion finished second to Brown after he let up with about five meters remaining in the race. Most importantly, the duo both earned regional qualifying times. Brown turned in a split of 20.53, while Gay recorded a 20.58, his fastest outdoor opener ever. Grant was also in the race and came in fourth place (21.49).
“We had a pretty good day; no one was injured and we got a lot of qualifiers,” Arkansas sprints coach Lance Brauman said. “The 4×100-meter relay wasn’t near what we’re capable of. Some of the guys ran a little tentative. Tyson (Gay) showed us he’s back and ready to go. I thought he let up a little too much at the end, but his training is going well, so we’re not worried.”
Three UA field athletes claimed first place in their respective events. Junior two-sport athlete Tony Ugoh popped a personal-best and regional qualifying throw of 168-10 in the discus. He is now sixth on UA’s all-time outdoor top 10 list.
Senior Jaanus Uudmae turned in a mark of 24-10.00 in the long jump for top honors. Uudmae already had a regional standard of 25-0.25 from the Mt. SAC Relays last weekend.
In the high jump senior Cory Oldham captured gold when he cleared 6-8.75. Junior Jimmy Duke tied his personal-best in the pole vault with a height of 16-2.75. He also competed in three other events in preparation for the decathlon and registered career-best times or marks in all of them, including 15.80 in the 110-meter hurdles, 11.22 in the 100-meter dash and 122-04 in the discus.
Sophomore Peter Kosgei showcased his abilities in the 3,000-meter steeplechase as he easily led during the entire race and finished with a qualifying time of 8:35.40. Junior Jose Campos was second (9:08.94) and sophomore Adam Perkins was third (9:27.19).
Senior Said Ahmed picked up a crucial qualifying time in the 1,500 meters when he took the tape in the event with a time of 3:43.54. Junior Josphat Boit was second with another regional qualifying 3:44.68.
Other Razorbacks in the race included junior Seth Summerside who was third (3:50.27), senior Jason Sandfort came in eighth (3:53.67) and sophomore Brian Roe was ninth (3:56.38).
The 3,000 meters was also loaded with Hog runners. Freshman Shawn Forrest ran to victory with a time of 8:19.25 and was followed closely by freshman Tyler Hill in second. Hill posted a career-best 8:20.39. Junior Marc Rodrigues finished fifth (8:24.53), juniors Abdi Dubed and Josh Robles were sixth (8:28.88) and seventh (8:34.46), respectively. Freshman Jonathan Norris rounded out the group in 10th (8:48.19).
The 800 meters had two Hogs entered that were hoping for regional times. Unfortunately, senior James Hatch and junior Harun Iman finished third (1:51.64) and fourth (1:51.87), respectively.
Juniors David Wittenmyer and Brad Dittoe took to the track in the 400-meter hurdles and crossed the line in second and third place, respectively. Wittenmyer ran a time of 53.01, while Dittoe had a clocking of 53.18.
The historic Penn Relays are next on the schedule for Arkansas. The Razorbacks will head to Philadelphia, Pa., for the meet on April 28-30, in search of the coveted wagon wheels.
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