FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Day one at the 2007 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships was eventful for Arkansas, in good ways and bad. Alain Bailey and Mychael Stewart both earned All-America honors in the long jump while Colin Costello’s fate in the mile finals fell to the hands of the NCAA Games Committee.
The Hogs are sitting in a tie for second place with 15 points with Auburn and Tennessee after day one. The Wisconsin Badgers are leading the event with 20 points.
“We are happy with 15 (points) after the first day,” head coach john McDonnell said. “Scott (MacPherson) didn’t have the best experience and he didn’t get any points but Peter (Kosgei) made up the ground and got the points he was supposed to get.”
Costello, making his first NCAA Championships appearance, led his heat of the mile prelims with 300 meters to go. Approaching the last turn, Costello tried to make a move and tripped. When he fell, the official assigned to watch the check point put his yellow flag up indicating a violation had occurred.
After review, Costello and David Nightingale of Princeton were advanced to the final after the officials ruled that they had been impeded. There was an appeal against Costello and Nightingale advancing but the official who made the original ruling did not change his decision.
The issue then went to the NCAA Games Committee and the Committee reviewed the film. After review, the Committee ruled that Costello was not impeded and therefore would not advance to the finals. Also decided was that Nightingale of Princeton was impeded by Costello’s fall and would advance.
While the mile race was being sorted out, Peter Kosgei and Scott MacPherson took to the track for the 5,000 meters.
With a pack of seven huddled tightly, the race went out rather slowly. Wisconsin’s Chris Solinsky, Liberty’s Josh McDougal and Fairleigh Dickinson’s Samuel Chelenga took turns taking the lead until Solinsky passed McDougal about 10 minutes in to the race.
As Solinsky took the lead, the pace sped up as Kosgei moved in to the top three and MacPherson faded and struggled to keep up with the pack. Oregon’s Galen Rupp also took advantage of the increased pace and moved into the top three.
At the bell lap Solinsky surged ahead but Kosgei kept fighting and continued to close the gap as Rupp challenged him for second place. Solinsky was the eventual race winner with a time of 13:38.61.
Kosgei earned runner-up honors, matching his career-best NCAA finish from the 3,000 meters in 2005, with his time of 13:39.88. His clocking is a personal best and the third-best time in school history behind Alistair Cragg (13:28.93) and Sean Kaley (13:36.87).
“It was a gutsy finish because (the race) went out really slow,” McDonnell said. “(Chris) Solinsky is a great and Peter kept with him. It was a tough position to be in because Galen Rupp was not that far back. (Rupp) came after (Kosgei) but with 100 meters to go, Peter decided no one else was going to pass him.”
Refusing to give up, MacPherson finished 14th with a time of 14:23.73. MacPherson, a 2006 cross country All-American, earned his first All-America honor for his efforts on the track due to the number of international athletes in the field.
Over at the long jump pit, Bailey and Stewart kept Arkansas’ hopes of a 43rd national championship alive with third- and eighth-place finishes, respectively.
“Alain Bailey did a great job tonight with a season-best jump of 25-6 and finishing third at the national meet,” field events coach Dick Booth said. “Mychael (Stewart) is an All-American in eighth place. You can’t argue with two guys being All-Americans. I hope it jump started our guys for this weekend. They did a great job.”
Bailey, the SEC long jump runner-up, continued his outstanding freshman season with a career-best jump of 25-6.75 and his first All-America honor.
“This feels great,” Bailey said. “25-6, that’s an indoor personal best. Finishing third as a freshman, I feel pretty good right now. I have been resting for the past week and the SEC Championships gave me a lot of confidence. Third place feels pretty great.”
Stewart, still hampered by an injured heel, overcame any pain he may have felt and earned an eighth-place finish with his leap of 25-0. Although it wasn’t a personal best, his mark did earn the Bentonville native and former walk-on his first All-America honor.
“This is exciting,” Stewart said. “I wish I had jumped a little bit further and placed higher but you can’t be disappointed earning an All-America honor. Being at (being at the NCAA Championships) was my goal from the beginning of the year.”
Nkosinza Balumbu in the triple jump and Peter Kosgei in the 3,000 meters will hope to add to Arkansas’ point total on Saturday, the final day of competition.
For complete details, the most updated schedule and live results of the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships, visit www.ladybacks.com.