Sandfort Runs Fastest American 10K Time at Sta
BY ANDRES FOCIL
PALO ALTO, Calif. – Junior Jason Sandfort helped kick off the 2004 outdoor season for Arkansas late Friday night when he registered an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 28:29.58 in the 10,000-meter run on Cobb Track at the Stanford Invitational. Sandfort crossed the line in third, but his time was still the fastest registered by an American this year. The first place winner, Arizona’s Robert Cheseret (28:25.62), is a native of Kenya, while runner-up Simon Bairu (28:28.69) of Wisconsin hails from Canada. The West Plains, Mo., native went up against a large field of competitors that included 69 other runners in three sections. Sandfort went out and took the lead after the first 4,000 meters. He led the remainder of the race until the last lap.
“It’s just fantastic,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “He ran a great race and did a lot of the work. I knew he was in great shape for the 5K during indoors and I was disappointed he couldn’t get in. It’s nice to get this automatic time for the 10,000. He has punched his ticket to Austin.”
His performance of 28:29.58 bested the qualifying standard by nearly 31 seconds and placed him at third on UA’s all-time top 10 list. At this time last year his showing would have put him at the top of the records books. Sandfort’s time is right behind the blazing times recorded by teammates Daniel Lincoln (28:20.20) and Alistair Cragg (28:20.29) at the 2003 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, Calif. He also improved his career best by a little more than 28 seconds. His previous best time was at the 2002 Penn Relays where he turned in a 28:57.92.
Arkansas will field a full squad for the first time when they travel to Austin, Texas on April 1-3, for the Texas Relays. The University of Texas is also the host site for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on June 8-12.
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