Spearmon Breaks American Record; UA Drops to S
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The crowning moment at the 2005 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships was sophomore Wallace Spearmon Jr. setting the American 200-meter record twice in one night, but was suddenly overshadowed when UA’s winning Distance Medley Relay team was disqualified based on the decision of a referee. At the end of the evening the Hogs were left with 19 points and are just one point behind first-place Oregon (20). Wisconsin is in third with 16 and there is a three-way tie for fourth (15) between Arizona State, Florida and Stanford.
Had Arkansas earned the 10 points from the DMR it would hold a solid lead with 29 points. The Razorbacks will have a fight ahead of them on Saturday if they want to capture their 40th NCAA Championship.
Spearmon became the fastest American and collegian ever on Friday night when he blazed to a 200-meter record time of 20.21 in the preliminaries. In the finals he managed to outdo himself and sped to a time of 20.10 for first place and the individual championship. The former American and collegiate record was set by 2004 Olympic 200-meter gold medalist Shawn Crawford and 2003 200-meter World Champion John Capel. The duo recorded the time at the 2000 NCAA Championships in Fayetteville as they crossed the line in a dead heat, running for Clemson and Florida, respectively.
“Coach Brauman got me mentally ready for today,” Spearmon said. “I was just running to win. I set my goal to win and the time that came with it was a bonus. I felt the pressure from Walter Dix, because he’s only a freshman and he ran 20.37 in the first heat. I went out there trying to do my best.”
In addition to the impressive American record that was set, the clocking marked a new Randal Tyson Track Center and lane three world record. Spearmon’s performance also makes him the second-fastest man in the history of indoor track and field. Namibia’s Frank Fredericks is the only one who was faster. He recorded times of 19.92 and 20.10 in 1996 and 1999, respectively. The Fayetteville, Ark., native is the first athlete in UA history to win the national 200-meter indoor title, after he finished eighth last year as a freshman.
“I was hoping he would run fast, but you can’t project the American record” Arkansas sprints coach Lance Brauman said. “To run 20.21, come back and run 20.10 in pretty special.”
Senior Omar Brown joined Spearmon in the event and ran in the first heat after he gained the last qualifying spot with a time of 20.82 from the prelims. In the finals Brown had a fantastic race and earned fifth place overall with a career-best time of 20.52. The Trelawny, Jamaica native’s time broke the Jamaican national record time of 20.68 that was established in 2001 by Chris Williams and placed him at third on UA’s all-time indoor top 10 list.
“It was great to be in front of a hometown crowd and have their support,” Spearmon said. “It means a lot. Omar (Brown) had a great race too. He had a personal best just like me.”
The DMR immediately followed the 200-meter dash. The Arkansas team was comprised of sophomore Adam Perkins, senior Terry Gatson, junior Harun Iman and junior Said Ahmed. The Hogs ran a close race with UCLA and Stanford for a majority of the event.
Perkins led from the get go with a split of 2:55, but handed off to Gatson in second place. Gatson held steady with the leading Stanford runner as he passed the baton to Iman in a time of 46.8. Iman also maintained the second place position with a split of 1:50. Ahmed handled anchor duties and continued to stay of the shoulder of the UCLA competitor. In the final lap the finish came down to defending NCAA champion Michigan and Arkansas. UM’s Nate Brannen gained ground on Ahmed coming off the last turn. It was a desperate dive by Ahmed at the tape that gave Arkansas the victory with a time of 9:30.79, while the Wolverines were very close behind with a 9:30.82.
The Razorbacks didn’t have long to celebrate after they learned a protest regarding the physical finish had been filed by a meet referee. Arkansas put in an appeal, but it was overturned by the NCAA Track and Field Committee. The 10 points Arkansas thought it had earned with the win were taken away and Michigan was given the national crown.
“The University of Arkansas Distance Medley Relay team was disqualified by the referee,” Donna Thomas (Chair of NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Committee) said. “The referee’s interpretation of the rule (Rule 5-5-3b) was that the young man from Arkansas impeded the progress of the runner from Michigan. Arkansas appealed the ruling and the ruling was upheld. No video tape was used. According to NCAA rules, the use of video is not allowed. As it stands, Michigan is the winner of the Men’s Distance Medley Relay.”
Earlier in the evening Arkansas looked to score big in the 5,000 meters, but fell slightly short of expectations when the Hogs were only able to score five points. Junior Josphat Boit and sophomore Peter Kosgei finished sixth and seventh, respectively. Boit ran a season-best time of 13:47.99, while Kosgei turned in a 13:48.26, allowing the Kenyan duo to pick up their first-career indoor track All-America honors.
In the prelims of the 800 meters senior All-American James Hatch advanced to the finals by virtue of his second-place finish. Hatch staged a smart race and recorded a time of 1:49.27, placing him seventh overall. Before the DMR Ahmed turned in the fastest qualifying time in the prelims of the mile as he held off Michigan’s Nick Willis (4:03.90) to take the tape with a time of 4:03.60.
In the 400 meters Gatson registered a new career-best time of 46.23 as he took the tape in the fourth and final heat. His excellent time placed him second overall and pushed him through to the finals. Gatson’s performance also placed him second on UA’s all-time indoor top 10 list.
Unfortunately, the 60-meter dash was missing junior Tyson Gay. The NCAA 100-meter dash champion was scratched from the event after it was determined that he was not 100 percent recovered from an injured right hamstring.
On Saturday events for the Razorbacks will begin at 5:45 p.m. with senior All-American Jaanus Uudmae in the triple jump. The finals of the mile are scheduled for 6:25 p.m. and the 800 meters will follow shortly after at 6:45 p.m. The 400 meters are slated for 7:05 p.m. and the gun for the 3,000 meters will start at 7:50 p.m. The 4×400-meter relay will conclude the championships at 8:20 p.m.
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