Taylor and Stevens Win 800-meter Titles at Mt.
BY ANDRES FOCIL
WALNUT, Calif. – Arkansas added to its list of event titles at the Mt. SAC Relays as it dominated the middle distance events when junior Robbie Stevens and sophomore Michael Taylor won the 800 meters in their respective heats.
Late Friday night in the invitational heat Taylor captured the crown with a career-best and regional qualifying time of 1:47.89. Taylor led most of the race and made a kick in the final lap for the clear victory and became only the second Arkansas athlete to win the event since Brandon Rock in 1995.
Saturday afternoon Stevens claimed the 800 in the Olympic development heat with a time of 1:47.76, while sophomore Said Ahmed was right behind in second with a season-best 1:48.18. Both came on strong in the last 150 meters with a burst to snatch the top two spots in the tight race. Sophomore James Hatch also competed in the event and crossed the line in fifth with a new regional qualifying time of 1:49.09.
In additional track action late Friday night three UA runners gained new regional qualifying times in the 1,500 meters. Junior Chris Mulvaney crossed the line in second with 3:42.75 and Ahmed was right behind in third with a career-best 3:42.94.
Mulvaney maintained good position throughout the majority of the race, riding comfortably behind the leader, but with 250 meters left John Jefferson of Indiana passed on the outside from the third position. Jefferson created a gap that was too much to make up as Mulvaney put in his kick with 200 meters to go for runner-up honors.
Junior Silverus Kimeli also ran in the 1,500 and crossed the line in 10th with a regional qualifying time of 3:48.18. In a different heat senior Chad Grundy posted a time of 3:52.66 for 10th place.
Saturday afternoon marked the conclusion of the 45th Mt. SAC Relays and the 400-meter hurdles started the day for Arkansas. Junior transfer Maurice Bridges had a strong showing as he came in fourth in his heat and sixth overall with 51.30.
Freshman Brad Dittoe ran 53.39 to finish seventh in his heat and 23rd overall. Senior Josh Landreth was seventh in his heat with a time of 54.84 to put him at 32nd overall.
Senior Daniel Lincoln ran in the mile race for the Hogs and took a commanding lead in the beginning, but was unable to hold off a late charge from Nike’s Jesse Strutzel as he crossed the line in second with a time of 4:03.00.
The 4×100-meter relay team of seniors Richard Smith and Eddie Jackson, junior Michael Thomas and sophomore Ahmad Carroll were ready to compete and running well, until the third hand-off between Thomas and Jackson was missed and the team was unable to finish.
Thomas ran a season-best 13.62 in the invitational 110-meter hurdles to garner a fourth place finish against several top professional competitors, while Jackson turned in a season-best 13.80 for fifth place.
Carroll also competed in the invitational 100-meter dash and was the third man across the line in his heat with a time of 10.42. Overall, he tied for fourth.
The Razorbacks wrapped up the day with the 4×400-meter relay team of Stevens, Hatch, Bridges and Landreth. All handoffs went smoothly as each runner powered around the track. They finished with a new regional qualifying time of 3:10.59 for fifth place.
Sophomore transfer Jaanus Uudmae was the only Razorback to advance to the finals in the triple jump after senior Richard Smith fouled all on three of his attempts. Uudmae posted a season-best 52-2.00 for seventh place and in the process improved his regional qualifying mark.
Junior Ramon Washington represented Arkansas in the long jump and came in fourth with a 24-7.75.
In the javelin throw freshman Eric Brown turned in a season-best 206-07 for ninth place.
At the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational late Friday night several Razorbacks competed in field events. Three Razorbacks competed in the pole vault. Sophomore Jimmy Duke was UA’s high finisher in a tie for third place with a career-best and regional qualifying clearance of 16-2.75. Senior Josh Roberts tied for 10th with a height of 15-3.00, while junior Tom Crowder tied for 12th (14-9.00). Sophomore Cory Oldham tied for ninth in the high jump with 6-4.75.
In the throwing events freshman Tony Ugoh came in 23rd (153-11) in the discus, while Crowder posted season-best 179-8 in the javelin.
Freshman David Wittenmyer registered a time of 1:57.19 in the 800 meters.
After the Hogs return from their successful trip in California they will have a fast turn-around as they go to Philadelphia, Penn., for the Penn Relays on April 24-26.
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