FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas got a pleasant surprise from its young long jumpers, but had its distance medley relay team struggle on the first day of the New Balance Collegiate Invitational at The Armory Track and Field Center in New York City, N.Y. on Friday.
Sophomore Mychael Stewart and freshman Daniel Quinn both registered season-best performances in the long jump. Stewart took top honors in the collegiate long jump with a leap of 24-1 3/4. Quinn finished a close second to Stewart with a 24-1 measurement. Freshman Nkosinza Balumbu finished seventh with a jump of 23-0 3/4.
“That was very encouraging to have them come on like that,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “All of those guys are really triple jumpers so it is nice to see Mychael and Daniel step forward. Hopefully, that kind of performance will give them a shot in the arm that they need. A lot of time with young guys it is about confidence. They should gain some confidence from this outing.”
While the long jump provided some encouraging news, the distance medley relay turned out to be nothing to write home about. McDonnell had hoped that the team of Adam Perkins, Brian Roe, David Wittenmyer and Said Ahmed would be able to claim a win and secure a NCAA qualifying time in the process. Arkansas struggled from the gun, however, and finished a disappointing fourth with a time of 9:45.00.
“We didn’t start off well at all and then we started to press a little bit,” McDonnell said. “You can’t afford to get behind early because then everyone tries to take it out too quickly. Said ran a very solid anchor leg despite not being in contention. He ran a 4:00.00 mile and that is a good sign. That was encouraging, but overall the DMR was disappointing.”
Freshman sprinter J-Mee Samuels finished second in his heat and 15th overall in the preliminaries of the 60-meter dash. Samuels qualified for the consolation final with a time of 6.87 seconds, but will likely not compete again this weekend after aggravating a leg injury. The Winston-Salem, N.C., native was scheduled to run in the 200-meter dash on Saturday, but will rest for next weekend’s Tyson Invitational instead.
Junior Brad Dittoe was the first Razorback to take the track on Friday. The runner from The Woodlands, Texas, won his heat in the 500-meter dash. His time of 1:04.03 was the seventh-best time posted in the event overall. Fellow Texan Daniel LaCava was the Hogs’ lone representative in the 1,000-meter run. The freshman from Hurst, Texas, finished 10th overall with a time of 2:28.25.
Arkansas returns to action at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational again on Saturday. Among the featured races on the final day of the event are the 3,000-meters, the mile run, the 800-meter run and the 4×400 relay. Also on Saturday, the championship flight of the triple jump and high jump will be contested.
“Hopefully we will have a little better day on Saturday,” McDonnell said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how Josphat and Peter run in the 3,000. I think they are ready to go. We will also be looking for big things from some guys in the 800 and the mile. It would be nice to come home with some qualifications before the Tyson Invitational next weekend.”