Auburn is the only western division school not represented a this weekend’s meet. Vanderbilt, a member of the SEC’s Eastern Division, only fields a women’s team and will compete in the women’s division of this weekend’s action.
UA OPENS HOME SLATE: Arkansas will open its home indoor slate this weekend when it hosts the SEC Regional Meet at the Randal Tyson Track Center. The Razorbacks opened the season last weekend at the Missouri Southern Invitational in Joplin, Mo.
THE FIELD: A total of five teams will compete at the SEC Regional this weekend in the men’s division. Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State will take to the track at the Randal Tyson Track Center this weekend.
THE SCORING: Per SEC rules, this weekend’s meet will be scored as a team event. With only five teams, however, the scoring system has been adjusted.
Points for individual events will be awarded on a 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 sliding scale while relays will be scored 9-7-6-5-4.
In another stipulation, only the top two athletes from each school are eligible to score in an individual event. If a third athlete from the same school finishes in the top eight, than the scoring will skip that participant and continue point allocation with the next competitor.
LAST TIME OUT: Arkansas opened the 2002 indoor track season in dominating fashion as the Razorbacks blitzed the field last weekend at the Missouri Southern Open Invit. in Joplin, Mo.
The Hogs swept the top places in a number of events including taking the top four spots in the 800 meters and the top three places in the mile run. In addition, Arkansas boasted the top collegiate finishers in the 60-meter high hurdles, 3,000-meter run and the shot put.
Freshman Said Ahmed (1:53.84) took the tape in the 800 meters in his first collegiate meet. The Boston, Mass., native joined the Razorback program this month and should give the Hogs another middle distance front runner. Freshman Michael Taylor (1:54.63) placed second in the 800 meters while junior Josh Landreth (1:54.73) and freshman James Hatch (1:57.06) capped the Hogs’ sweep of the top four finishes.
Sophomore Chris Mulvaney topped the field in the mile run with a NCAA provisional qualifying time of 4:03.72. Mulvaney was the only Razorback competitor to earn a NCAA qualifying mark in Arkansas’ first indoor meet of the season.
Junior Daniel Lincoln (4:14.15) and sophomore Westley Alkin (4:15.66) chased Mulvaney to the finish line capturing second and third, respectively.
Junior Eddie Jackson captured first place honors for the Hogs in the 60-meter high hurdles with a time of 7.94. Arkansas boasted the top two collegiate finishers in the 3,000-meter run. Sophomore Silverus Kimeli (8:20.28) and true freshman Jason Sandfort (8:25.88) racked up runnerup and third-place honors. Former Razorback standout Sharif Karie competed unattached and won the event in a time of 8:14.23.
The Razorbacks’ impressive showing wasn’t limited to the track. Despite limited preparation time and scaled back approaches, Arkansas showed promise in the field events.
Freshman and former high school All-American Jonathan Reeves was the top collegiate finisher in the shot put with a throw of 56-4.75. Reeves finished second only to unattached competitor Tony Thompson (61-4.75).
Sophomore Maurice Robinson (47-0.75) finished third in the triple jump while teammates Ramon Washington (24-3.75) and Richard Smith (24-0.75) placed third and fourth, respectively, in the long jump. All UA jumpers took just over half of their normal approaches last weekend, but still managed to finish in the top half of the results.
TOTAL PROGRAM: In an era when many major schools allot a majority of their scholarships to either cross country, indoor or outdoor track, exclusively, Arkansas continues to compete at the highest level in all three sports.
The Razorbacks have won a total of 36 national championships including 11 in cross country, 16 in indoor track and field and 9 in outdoor track and field. In that same time span, Arkansas has captured 67 conference championships including 28 in cross country, 21 in indoor track and field and 18 outdoor track titles.
In 10 of the last 11 years, Arkansas has earned at least two national championships in the same season. The Razorbacks have won the national triple crown five times (1984-85, 1991-92, 1992-93, 1993-94, 1998-99).
UA WEEKEND LINEUP: Following is a tentative list of UA athletes scheduled to compete this weekend at the SEC Regional Meet.
Said Ahmed – 800 meters, 1,600 meter relay
Westley Alkin – 5,000 meters
P.J. Brown – pole vault
Fernando Cabada – 5,000 meters
Kyle Cleveland – 800 meters
Chad Grundy – mile
James Hatch – 800 meters, 1,600 meter relay
Dirk Heinze – mile, Distance Medley Relay
Eddie Jackson – 60 meter hurdles
Blake Jorgensen – pole vault
Silverus Kimeli – mile, 3,000 meters, Distance Medley Relay
Josh Landreth – 400 meters, 1,600 meter relay
Daniel Lincoln – 3,000 meters, Distance Medley Relay
Chris Mulvaney – 800 meters
Cory Oldham – high jump
Chason Pompey – 1,600 meter relay, Distance Medley Relay
Jonathan Reeves – shot put
Josh Roberts – pole vault
Maurice Robinson – triple jump, long jump
Matt Roseberry – high jump
Jason Sandfort – 3,000 meters
Zack Sartori – 5,000 meters
Richard Smith – long jump, triple jump
Michael Taylor – mile
Michael Thomas – 60 meter hurdles
Patrick Thomas – 5,000 meters
Ramon Washington – triple jump, long jump
HEAD COACH JOHN McDONNELL: In his 30th season at Arkansas, legendary cross country and track and field coach JOHN McDONNELL has positioned himself as one of the most successful collegiate coaches in any sport in the history of athletics.
McDonnell has led his UA squads to an astounding 36 national championships and 68 conference titles in cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field.
It is difficult to highlight any specific accomplishment in a career that has routinely set the highest standard of excellence, however, McDonnell is proud of the Razorbacks’ streak of 28-consecutive conference cross country titles. Arkansas captured the final 17 cross country crowns in the Southwest Conference before earning the first 11 in the Southeastern Conference. Not since 1973 has a conference team competed with Arkansas at the league meet and come away with a win.
McDonnell has been recognized countless times at the national, district and conference level for his coaching excellence. He has earned national coach of the year honors 25 times, district honors 52 times and conference laurels 35 times.
Born July 2, 1938 in County Mayo, McDonnell was an interesting story long before he came to Arkansas. He came to the United States in 1964 to work as a television cameraman in New York City. He hoped to make it in the big time but a promised position with ABC was delayed so he decided to accept a scholarship offer to run track at Southwestern Louisiana. He was a six-time all-America in cross country and track at USL. He was the 1966-67 AAU 3,000 meter champion and he won the mile at the 1966 British Selection Games.
McDonnell was granted U.S. citizenship in 1969, the same year he graduated from USL. He coached high school track for two years in New Providence, N.J. and a year at Lafayette, La. before moving to Arkansas. In order to make ends meet, he taught at Greenland High School, south of Fayetteville, briefly while coaching with the Razorbacks.
He has had plenty of honors to go with his coaching awards, including induction into the UA Sports Hall of Honor, the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and the USL Sports Hall of Fame. By the time he’s finished, someone may have to create a new Hall of Fame for McDonnell alone. Most records are made to be broken. His never will be approached.
Married to the former Ellen Elias of Bayonne, N.J., McDonnell and his wife have two children, Heather and Sean.