Razorbacks to Compete Against World’s Best at
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The fourth annual Tyson Invitational will give UA athletes a chance to gain NCAA qualifying marks while competing against some of the world’s top professional and collegiate athletes on February 14-15 at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark.
“This meet is a big time meet for us, because we have a lot of universities coming in here,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “We have to get a lot of people qualified for nationals, because this is our last meet before the SEC Championships.
“In the 800 meters hopefully we’ll get two or three guys qualified, especially Said Ahmed. He finished third last year and hasn’t qualified yet. Also, Robbie Stevens and possibly James Hatch or Michael Taylor. In the triple jump we don’t have anyone automatically qualified and we have three guys that should qualify.”
Twenty-six teams are slated to compete during the collegiate portion on Friday, including SEC opponents Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Other teams making the trip to Fayetteville are Abeline Christian, Barton County Community College, Baylor, Clemson, Harding, Houston, Indiana, North Texas, Oklahoma State, SMU, Southwest Missouri State, Southwest Texas, TCU, Tulsa, UMKC, UTA and Western State.
On Friday the collegiate events will kick off at 10:30 a.m., with the finals in the running events beginning at 5:45 p.m. Twenty-four Arkansas athletes will see competition in 14 different events. The men’s shot put will start the day with sophomore Jonathan Reeves representing the Hogs.
In other field events action senior Josh Roberts, junior P.J. Brown and sophomore Jimmy Duke will compete in the pole vault, while sophomore Cory Oldham will compete in the high jump.
Arkansas will send three triple jumpers to try to improve their marks. Senior Richard Smith and juniors Maurice Robinson and Jaanus Uudmae will see action on Friday afternoon. As of last weekend at Nebraska’s Adidas Classic, Uudmae is the only Razorback that has provisionally qualified in the event with a mark of 51-7.25. Junior Tom Crowder will be the lone representative in the long jump for the UA.
Four Razorbacks will run in the 400-meter dash. Senior Josh Landreth, junior transfer Maurice Bridges, sophomore Chason Pompey and freshman David Wittenmyer will all compete in the event. Pompey will also run in the 200 meters.
In the 60-meter dash sophomore Ahmad Carroll will run for the Hogs. Five UA athletes, including senior Eddie Jackson, junior Michael Thomas, Crowder and freshmen Brad Dittoe and David Wittenmyer will take to the straight-aways in the 60-meter hurdles. The winner of the collegiate event will have the chance to run in Saturday’s competition against the professional athletes.
Redshirt freshman Luis Bordes will double up and run in both the 3,000 and 5,000-meter runs, while senior Patrick Thomas will take to the track in the 3K.
In the middle distance events sophomores James Hatch and Michael Taylor will run in the 800 meters, while senior Chad Grundy, junior Silverus Kimeli and sophomore Phillip Aagaard will compete in the mile.
On Saturday USA Track and Field’s Golden Spike Tour events with the professional athletes will start at 5 p.m. with the men’s 5,000-meter run and end with the finals of the much-anticipated men’s 60-meter dash at 7:15 p.m.
A corps of Razorback distance runners will see action in the 5,000-meter race. Senior Daniel Lincoln, junior and defending NCAA 5,000 meter champion Alistair Cragg, junior Westley Alkin, and sophomore Jason Sandfort all hope to dominate in the event.
“We’re hoping to qualify four or five in the 5,000 meters,” McDonnell said. “That’s a big event for us at the NCAA Championships. We’ve got to get those things done. Those are things that are going to decide if we have a chance at the national championship or the conference championship for that matter.”
Carroll, UA’s record holder in the 60-meter dash, will have the opportunity to go head-to-head against some of the world’s fastest men in the event. Maurice Greene, the current world-record holder with a time of 6.39, and four-time NCAA champion Justin Gatlin will both be competing in the 60-meter dash.
In the men’s long jump seniors Richard Smith and Ramon Washington will be competing against Miguel Pate, the 2002 USA Indoor champion and Savante Stringfellow, an Olympic silver medalist.
Junior Chris Mulvaney will represent the Hogs in the always-popular mile race. He will run against former Arkansas standouts Graham Hood, Seneca Lassiter and James Karanu.
Junior Robbie Stevens and sophomore Said Ahmed will run in the 800 meters. Last year at the NCAA Indoor Championships Ahmed finished third in the event. They will see 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.
Arkansas’ distance medley relay team of senior Josh Landreth, junior Silverus Kimeli and Hatch and Taylor will run against Southeastern Conference foes Kentucky and Florida, along with SMU and Indiana.
After hosting the Tyson Invitational Coach McDonnell and his Hogs will take a weekend off as they prepare for the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships on March 1-2, in Gainesville, Fla.
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