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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas will take its show on the road this weekend when the Razorback track and field team travels to New York, N.Y. to compete in the New Balance Collegiate Invitational. The Razorbacks will join more than 90 other schools of all classifications at the meet on Friday and Saturday at The Armory Track and Field Center.
Arkansas, ranked No. 2 nationally, is the highest ranked team competing at the two-day meet and one of six ranked teams participating. In fact, seven of the top nine teams in the latest Trackwire poll will be competing including No. 4 Texas, No. 5 LSU, No. 6 Tennessee and No. 7 Baylor.
“This is a great experience for our guys,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “It is an enjoyable trip and they get a chance to go watch the professional athletes at the Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden on Friday night. On the track, this meet gives our younger guys a chance to compete on a big stage before we get into the thick of the indoor championship season. From here on out, the meets get bigger and bigger.”
With the Tyson Invitational slated for next weekend and the SEC and NCAA Championships looming in the next five weeks, McDonnell will be looking for the Hogs to strengthen their lineup for the stretch run. Senior Josphat Boit (7:58.91) and junior Peter Kosgei (8:00.51) have already posted NCAA provisional times in the 3,000-meter run, but will try to improve their ranking this weekend. The automatic qualification in the 3,000 meters is 7:56.00. The Razorback distance duo also boast provisional times in the mile run, but will most likely double in the 3,000 and 5,000 in the NCAA Championships.
“We would like Josphat and Peter to improve their times in the 3,000 meters so they can concentrate on the 5,000 next weekend at the Tyson Invitational,” McDonnell said. “They are talented enough that an automatic time should be attainable. At this point, it is about getting qualified and building towards the SEC and NCAA meets.”
McDonnell will also have qualifying in mind when he sends his distance medley relay team onto the track on Friday. The Hogs recorded a season-best time of 9:59.66 at the Razorback Invitational, but will field a revised lineup at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational. Junior Adam Perkins will lead things off on the 1,200-meter leg before handing the baton to junior Brian Roe for the 800-meter leg. Freshman Jeremy Dodson will pace the Hogs on the 400-meter leg before passing to senior Said Ahmed for the mile finish.
“This weekend will be a great opportunity to get the DMR qualified,” McDonnell said. “We have some guys in there that will be strong candidates for the SEC and NCAA relay teams. I expect the DMR to be a very competitive race and that should help with the times.”
Heralded Razorback freshman J-Mee Samuels is slated to double at both 60 and 200 meters this weekend. In his last outing at the Razorback Invitational, Samuels posted a provisional qualifying time of 6.71 seconds in the 60. The Winston-Salem, N.C., native will compete in his first 200-meter race as a Razorback on Saturday. Despite not running the 200 yet this season, he is ranked third in the nation in the 200 meters in the latest national individual event rankings by Trackwire. He is also currently ranked fifth in the 60-meter dash. Samuels broke a 19-year old high school record last year as a prepster running 10.08 seconds in the 100-meter dash.
Three other Razorbacks will join Samuels in the 60-meter dash. Sophomore Michael Grant, senior Jaanus Uudmae and sophomore Mychael Stewart will all take to the starting blocks. If one of the four Hogs can make the six-man final, they will have an opportunity to compete as part of the Millrose Games on Friday night at Madison Square Garden. Samuels, Grant and Dodson will also compete in the 200.
Ahmed will look to improve his time as he leads a contingent of Arkansas runners in the 800 meters. The Boston, Mass., product ran 1:49.82 at the Razorback Invitational, but will have to shave that to 1:49.50 for a provisional and 1:48.00 for an automatic qualification. Roe and junior Brad Dittoe will also compete in the 800.
Freshmen Chris Barnicle and Kenny Cormier will join senior Marc Rodrigues, sophomore Shawn Forrest in the mile run for the Hogs. Barnicle fell only two seconds shy of a provisional qualifying time at the Razorback Invitational. Senior Seth Summerside and freshman Scott MacPherson are entered in the 3,000 meters while sophomore Jonathan Norris is scheduled to compete in the 5,000 meters.
Senior David Wittenmyer, Dittoe, Dodson and Grant will team up in the 4×400 relay, the final event of the meet on Saturday.
In field events, freshman Nkosinza Balumbu will attempt to continue his impressive Razorback debut in the jumps. Balumbu earned Southeastern Conference Field Athlete of the Week honors after posting a provisional qualifying mark of 52-02.75 in the triple jump at the Razorback Invitational. Balumbu will also compete in the long jump in New York City.
Uudmae, sophomore Chessly Johnson and junior Greg Martin are among the other UA entrants in the triple jump. Uudmae is the defending SEC triple jump champion and will compete in the event for the first time this season. Last year, Uudmae finished fourth at the NCAA Indoor Championships in the triple jump.
Stewart and freshman Daniel Quinn will join Balumbu in the long jump. Martin and sophomore Brent Rosson will compete in the high jump while senior Tony Ugoh will represent the Razorbacks in the weight throw.