Razorbacks Start Indoor Season with Arkansas I
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Just three days after receiving its No. 1 ranking, the Razorback track and field team will kickoff the 2004 indoor season when it hosts the Arkansas Invitational on Friday, Jan. 16. Joining Arkansas on the track will be Southeastern Conference opponents LSU and Ole Miss. Kansas, Missouri Southern, Oklahoma State, Oral Roberts, Southwest Missouri State and Tulsa will also make the trip to Fayetteville.
“We have a good lineup of teams coming this weekend, so for our first meet it’s a pretty good lineup,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “For us we have a lot of unknowns. We have a good team on paper and they have us ranked pretty high, but the only rank that counts is the one we get at the end of the season.”
The distance medley relay at 5:25 p.m. will be one of the featured events at the meet with a team of former Arkansas greats and a team of current Razorbacks going head to head. Daniel Lincoln will anchor the alumni team, while senior Alistair Cragg will anchor the Hogs who hope to gain an NCAA automatic qualifying time.
“One of the races that will be pretty interesting early in the meet will be the distance medley,” McDonnell said. “We have former guys running, Daniel Lincoln, Seneca Lassiter, and James Karanu to run against Alistair Cragg, Terry Gatson, Maurice Bridges and Ryan Botha. That will be a hot race, because they’re all training together and there has been a little bit of talk going on about who’s going to beat who.”
Ryan Botha is a new freshman from South Africa who joined the team at semester and will also run in the 800 meters. Terry Gatson transferred from Northwestern State in Louisiana as a junior and will also take a leg in the 4×400-meter relay with senior Maurice Bridges.
Fans will see more new faces on the straight-aways throughout the season with the addition of sprinters from Barton County Community College. Juniors Omar Brown and Tyson Gay will complete the 4×400-meter relay team.
Gay, who finished sixth at the USA Championships, will also run in the 60-meter dash with senior Michael Thomas and freshman Creighton Kiper. Thomas will also run in his premiere event, the 60-meter hurdles.
“We have some new guys on the block,” McDonnell said. “We have a few great sprinters with Tyson Gay and Omar Brown. We’re not trying to put a monkey on their back, but they’re credentials are pretty fantastic. We’ll see what they do. They’re healthy and this will be their first time wearing an Arkansas uniform.”
The Razorbacks are expected to lead the 3,000-meter race with junior Jason Sandfort and sophomore transfers Eric Gross and Matt Gunn on the roster. Arkansas will also have three other runners in the 800 meters, including sophomores Brad Dittoe and David Wittenmyer and freshman standout Sam Vazquez. Freshman Adam Perkins will be the lone Hog in the mile run.
Several athletes are set to compete in the field events. Senior P.J. Brown and junior Jimmy Duke will represent UA in the pole vault. Junior Cory Oldham and freshman Greg Martin will see action in the high jump.
Admission to the Arkansas Invitational is free. The shot put will start the meet off at 12 p.m., while the unseeded heat of the 3,000 meters will be the first running event at 3 p.m. After the Arkansas Invitational the Hogs will host the Razorback Invitational on Jan. 23-24, before they travel to the Boston Indoor Games on Jan. 31.
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