DES MOINES, Iowa – Arkansas Razorback track and field saw three of its student-athletes advance to finals later this week on day one of competition at the NCAA Championships at Drake Stadium.
“What a great season Luke (Laird) had,” head coach John McDonnell said. “It’s unfortunate he didn’t make the final but he has nothing to be disappointed in. He had some terrific performances this season and he still has U.S. Junior Championships next weekend. I feel bad for J-Mee (Samuels). It would have been great for him to get into that final. His heat ran into a strong wind and the previous heat barely had any wind. The playing field needs to be level.”
Peter Kosgei won his heat of the 3,000-meter steeplechase to automatically advance to the finals. The runner-up in the event from 2005, Kosgei clocked a time of 8:47.86.
“I felt really good throughout the race,” Kosgei said. “I’m trying to keep the momentum going for regionals. Once I took the lead, I just tried to keep a steady pace and get a spot in the finals.”
In the same race, Scott MacPherson finished 10th in his heat and 19th overall. He clocked a time of 9:05.10.
“Peter (Kosgei) is in great shape,” McDonnell said. “He did exactly what he was supposed to do to make it in the finals. That was a good race for Scott (MacPherson) too. He held on as long as he could. There were some good runners in his heat. We still have Alain Bailey, Nkosinza Balumbu and the 10K guys, so we have guys left in the meet that can score points for us. Spencer (McCorkel) looked great in the pole vault today. He was flying over those bars.”
Spencer McCorkel, Arkansas’ lone at-large bid to the meet, advanced to Friday’s finals in the pole vault. He cleared 17-2.75 to finish tied for first overall.
“This meet is the first prelim/final meet I’ve competed in so I wasn’t sure how to prepare,” McCorkel said. “I treated it like a normal meet but there was a little bit more pressure. I tried to stay as relaxed as possible and it went well for me.”
Alain Bailey competed in the long jump and the 4×100-meter prelims at the same time. He advanced to the finals, marking a leap of 25-2. He finished 11th and the top 12 advanced to Thursday’s finals.
“I was having run-up issues today,” Bailey said. “It took some time to get my steps straight. I was ready to compete in both events at the same time; this isn’t the first time this season where they were both happening at the same time. I’m just glad I did what I had to do to advance to the finals.”
J-Mee Samuels finished 12th in the semifinals of the 100 meters. He clocked a time of 10.51 but was not quick enough to advance to the finals. Earlier in the day, he finished third in his prelim heat and ninth overall with a time of 10.52 to automatically advance to the semifinals.
“I tried to take it each race at a time,” Samuels said. “I tried to stay as relaxed as possible. The wind (for the semifinals) was a big threat but everyone had to deal with it.”
Arkansas’ 4×100-meter relay finished 12th in the prelims, outside of the top nine that advanced to the finals. Cedric Zellner, Bailey, Mychael Stewart and Samuels combined for a clocking of 40.00.
Alex McClary was the second athlete left out of the 800-meter semifinals. He finished 18th overall and seventh in his heat with a time of 1:50.06.
Luke Laird marked a javelin toss of 209-6 in the prelims. He finished 14th overall and will not advance to the finals.
For complete results of the NCAA Championships, visit