UA Track Kicks off Indoor Season with SEC West
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The second-ranked Razorback track and field team will start their 2003 indoor season at home, when they host the SEC West Challenge on Saturday January 18, at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
Five of the six SEC western division teams, including Arkansas, will be competing this weekend, with three of the other schools ranked in the top 10. The LSU Tigers received the number one ranking, while Alabama and Mississippi State came in at seventh and 10th, respectively. Ole Miss garnered a 24th spot.
“This is our first indoor meet of the season and we don’t know exactly what to expect, but we have a lot of guys in pretty good shape,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “It will be a good test for us, because LSU is ranked number in the nation. We have a lot of distance and middle distance runners and that’s where a lot of our strength is going to be for this indoor season. Some of our young guys who were freshman last year, who were very promising, will really have to step up this year if we’re going to win this meet. It’s always nice to knock off the number one team in the country and that’s what we plan to do.”
Twenty-nine Arkansas athletes will compete in 16 events on Saturday. The first men’s field event is the shot put at 10:30 a.m. Sophomore Jonathan Reeves will represent the Hogs in that event. In other field events action three Razorbacks including senior Josh Roberts, junior P.J. Brown and sophomore Jimmy Duke will compete in the pole vault. Sophomore Cory Oldham will be Arkansas’ only competitor in the high jump.
Another trio of Razorbacks will represent the UA in the triple jump. Senior Richard Smith, junior Maurice Robinson and junior transfer Jaanus Uudmae will compete in the triple jump. Smith is also competing in the long jump with senior Ramon Washington and junior Tom Crowder.
“As far as the races for tomorrow every one is going to be pretty good,” McDonnell said. “The five schools all have different strong areas, so when you put them all together it makes for a good meet.”
Arkansas’ arsenal of distance and middle distance runners will look to gain qualifying times in each of their events. Senior Patrick Thomas will run in the 5,000 meters that kicks off the running events at 12:30 p.m. Senior Chad Grundy and sophomore James Hatch will run in the 800 meters. Junior Silverus Kimeli and sophomores Phillip Aagaard and Michael Taylor will all compete in the mile run. Junior Westley Alkin and sophomores Said Ahmed and Jason Sandfort will take to the track in the 3,000-meter race.
Arkansas’ sprinters will also have a chance to shine under new sprints and hurdles coach Lance Brauman. Senior Eddie Jackson and junior Michael Thomas will represent the Razorbacks in the 60-meter hurdles, as well as the 200 meters. Crowder and Robinson will see double duty as they run in the 60-meter dash with Thomas.
“Michael Thomas and Eddie Jackson are looking really good,” McDonnell said. “We’re not running Ahmad Carroll this weekend, because we don’t want to get him hurt. We want to get him in really good racing shape.”
Junior transfer Maurice Bridges, sophomore Chason Pompey and true freshmen Brad Dittoe and David Wittenmyer will all run in the 400 meters. Bridges, Pompey and Wittenmyer will also join forces in the 1,600-meter relay with senior Josh Landreth.
The Hogs’ talented distance medley relay will look to take top honors against conference opponents with seniors Landreth, Daniel Lincoln and juniors Alistair Cragg and Robbie Stevens.
After the SEC West Challenge Arkansas will travel to Joplin, Mo., for the Missouri Southern Invitational on January 25, with the Boston Indoor Classic following on February 1.
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