FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – J-Mee Samuels had a banner day at the John McDonnell Invitational, clocking two regional-qualifying marks and anchoring the 4×100-meter relay to a regional-qualifying time. The Razorbacks added 10 NCAA regional-qualifying marks to their list on a beautiful, sunny day in Fayetteville. Arkansas now has 21 NCAA regional-qualifying marks to its credit.
“I’m pleased,” head coach John McDonnell said. “We could have been a little bit better but I’m happy. Key people really stepped it up, especially J-Mee Samuels. He’s a guy that could mean a lot to us at a national meet. He opened a door today. (Adam) Perkins ran well today. He ran a 3:43 and as the season goes on, he’s going to get better.”
Samuels flew down the track in the invitational 100 meters. Running slightly behind Wallace Spearmon, he clocked a 10.13. The mark qualifies him for the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships, is the third-fastest time in school history, is currently the fastest time in the SEC and is currently the third-fastest mark run by a collegian this season.
“I don’t think today could have gone any better than it did,” Samuels said. “I’m healthy and I was prepared mentally. I don’t think there was anything else I could have done. I just had to be patient. I wasn’t feeling good coming into today but after the first 100 meters, I knew I was going to have a good day.”
Samuels took to the track for a second time on Saturday and anchored the 4×100-meter relay to a second-place finish and a regional-qualifying time of 39.95, the fifth-best time in the SEC and the 16th-best time in the nation.
Cedric Zellner, Clemore Henry and Mychael Stewart took the first three legs prefacing Samuels’ anchor leg. Pure Speed Track Club led off with former Hog Tyson Gay, then Spearmon, Aaron Armstrong and anchored with another former Hog Melvin Lister. Samuels nearly caught Lister at the line as he anchored Pure Speed Track Club to a win with a time of 39.76.
“I’m excited but more than anything, I’m relieved,” Arkansas sprints coach Kyle White said. “I know (the sprinters) have been training hard and I knew they had it in them. I see them everyday and I know what kind of times they have been running. It’s more relief for me then excitement because I’ve been excited since I got here and started working with these guys. I’m excited that we have qualified for the NCAA regional championships and can help contribute to the team.”
The Winston-Salem, N.C. native took the track for the third and final time on Saturday in the invitational 200 meters. Samuels finished second, again to Spearmon, with a regional-qualifying time of 20.63. The mark is currently the second-best time in the SEC and the third-best time in the nation.
Adam Perkins bettered his 1,500-meter regional qualifying time with a 3:43.32 and a fourth-place finish. He now boasts the eighth-best time in the nation and the fastest time in the SEC.
“I knew Alistair (Cragg) was going to be rabbiting but I just didn’t know how fast he was going to go out,” Perkins said. “Coach (McDonnell) just told me to get behind him and go. It’s definitely an improvement from last weekend. I have never run this fast this early. I think the best is yet to come and I’m looking forward to Penn Relays.”
Nkosinza Balumbu posted the nation’s best triple jump with a leap of 53-0.75 and finished third in the event. He currently leads the SEC and has posted two NCAA regional-qualifying marks this season.
“We had a real good day,” Arkansas jumps coach Dick Booth said. “Daniel (Quinn) definitely did. Anytime you hit a milestone jump like 25 feet or you go over a plateau, that’s really good. He backed it up with a 24-10, I think, so it wasn’t a fluke thing.”
Carrying over their success from the indoor season, the Arkansas long jumpers had another solid day in the sand. Alain Bailey won the event with a mark of 25-3.25, his third regional-qualifying mark of the season, the SEC leading jump and the fifth-best leap in the nation.
Daniel Quinn finished third with a personal-best long jump of 25-0.75. His second regional-qualifying mark of the season, he replaces his previous best of 24-4.5 set at Texas Relays in early April.
“I’m just happy the jumped counted,” Quinn said. “The past year I have either scratched the good ones or I have been so far back on the board that it was a mediocre jump. Today I was finally on the board for one that counted.”
Mychael Stewart finished fifth with a 24-9.75. A 2007 All-American from the indoor season, Stewart’s jump is his first regional-qualifying mark of the season and is a new outdoor best. His indoor best is 25-2.75.
“I was pretty happy with Brent (Rosson) and Alain (Bailey) in the high jump,” Booth said. “Brent cleared 6-10.75 really well and for the second week in a row. Alain cleared the same height and I could tell some fatigue was setting in after six hard long jumps.”
Brent Rosson and Bailey finished tied for second in the high jump. Both cleared the NCAA regional-qualifying height of 6-10.75. It is Rosson’s second-consecutive week clearing this height and Bailey’s first regional-qualifying mark in the high jump. Bailey has also recorded three NCAA marks in the long jump.
“Overall (the jumpers) are really quality,” Quinn said. “We have a quantity of quality guys. For the most part, you can go out on any day and you never know which guy is going to step up. Today was the day for me to do something a little bit better than usual.”
For complete results of the John McDonnell Invitational, visit www.hogwired.com. Penn Relays is next up on the schedule for the Razorbacks. For complete details, visit thepennrelays.com