LEXINGTON, Ky. – In his SEC Championships debut, junior Dorian Ulrey won his first conference title for Arkansas Razorback men’s track and field on day two of the conference meet in Lexington, Ky.
The Razorbacks are in first place with 37 points in the team race. Florida sits in second with 33 points and Tennessee rounds out the top three with 32 points.
Ulrey is one-for-one as he picked up his first SEC title Saturday night. His come-from-behind win in the 3,000 meters was a very similar race to the one he ran earlier in the season at Washington. He led a 1-2-6 finish for Arkansas in the event along with 21 points.
"That was a spirited 3,000 meters," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "Shawn (Forrest) did a lot of the work. Dorian was working hard to keep up. I know they both have great kicks and that’s what it was going to come down to. Dorian, Shawn and James (Strang) picked up some much need points for us."
Ulrey battled at the back of the lead pack before taking the race lead with about 200 meters to go. Ulrey passed runners from Alabama and teammate senior Shawn Forrest to take the tape. Also a favorite in Sunday’s mile, he clocked a winning time of 7:55.56. His time is a new Nutter Field House record. Ulrey is the 10th Arkansas harrier to win the SEC 3,000-meter title of the 17 contested races.
"This was a mental race and finish for me," Ulrey said. "I hate to lose more than anyone out here. I was so close to the lead pack and I knew I could get closer. I think this is just how I run the 3K. The race played out just like our fast 3K at Washington. Shawn (Forrest) did a great job of taking the race out and I thought they were going to leave me in the dust. I’m so happy to be running at Arkansas and in the SEC. It’s made me a better runner and I love being part of this team atmosphere. This win was great and I’m happy I can contribute to the team."
Forrest earned a runner-up finish and the sixth All-SEC honor of his career. He clocked a time of 7:56.45. Forrest led for most of the race and battled with runners for Alabama for the lead. He was just behind Ulrey at the finish line. Senior James Strang was the final Hog scorer in the 3K as he picked up sixth place. He clocked a time of 8:01.38, a personal best and an NCAA provisional qualifier.
"We picked up points here and there and it’s good to see some guys shine," Bucknam said. "Moving Terry (Prentice) to the multis has really worked out for us. With some more preparation and training, he’s going to be really solid for us in those events. It was great to see J-Mee Samuels turn it on today. He qualified for the finals in both the 60 and the 200 meters and got NCAA marks in both events."
Earlier in the day, Ulrey led a pack of Hogs to qualifying spots in the mile finals. Ulrey, joined by sophomores Duncan Phillips and Michael Chinchar and freshman Rick Elliott, all qualified for Sunday’s finals. Ulrey led the way with the fastest prelim time of 4:06.51. Phillips was third with a 4:06.63, Chinchar was fifth clocking a 4:06.89 and Elliott was ninth with a 4:12.18.
"The pace was a little slower than expected but we caught up at the 800-meter mark," Phillips said. "We just tried to stick to our strategy as much as we could. It’s great to run with some many of us in one heat. We can feed off each other and it just feels like a work out. Getting Rick (Elliott) in the final is an added bonus. It’s good to have four of the 10 finalists wearing Arkansas jerseys in the final."
The Razorbacks also had some important scorers in the field events. Hurdler-turned-heptathlete freshman Terry Prentice finished seventh in a grueling seven-event competition with 5,023 points. His point-total is the second-best in school history.
Prentice ended the day with a time of 8.54 in the 60-meter hurdles, a clearance of 12-3.5 in the pole vault and a time of 2:49.28 in the 1,000 meters. All three marks are personal bests.
In the long jump, junior Alain Bailey’s best jump of the day measured 25-1.75, good for a runner-up finish and the fifth All-SEC honor of his career. Freshman Tarik Batchelor was fourth with a jump of 24-7.75. Earlier in the day, Bailey also finished eighth in the high jump with a clearance of 6-7.
Arkansas picked up four more big qualifiers for Sunday’s finals in J-Mee Samuels (60 meters, 6.70; 200 meters, 21.20), Marek Niit (200 meters, 20.97) and Alex McClary (800 meters, 1:49.36).
Niit’s 200-meter time is a collegiate personal best, an NCAA qualifier, ranks tied for 10th on the NCAA list and is the sixth-best time on Arkansas’ all-time list. Samuels also picked up his first NCAA qualifiers of the season. He currently ranks tied for 19th on the NCAA list in both events he competed in.
The qualifiers will join the 5,000-meter finals, the 4×400-meter relay, the distance medley relay, the triple jump and the pole vault for finals on Sunday.
For complete results and more information, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.