Spearmon Sprints Way Into UA Record Book

FAYETTEVILLE -- If only this were an Olympic year.

In just his first 200-meter race of the indoor season, Arkansas sophomore Wallace Spearmon Jr. set a school record Friday at the Razorback Invitational.

Spearmon, the defending NCAA outdoor champion at 200 meters, zipped his way around the banked track at the Randal Tyson Center in 20.36, besting teammate Tyson Gay's previous school record (20.40) set at last year's SEC Championships.

The time automatically qualifies Spearmon for this year's NCAA Championships to be held in Fayetteville on March 11-12. The automatic-qualifying time is 20.83.

"My time surprised me very much so. Coming in here I knew I was ready to run, but I had no clue it was going to be that fast," Spearmon said.

"It was the best thing I could hope for."

Spearmon's time was the fastest indoor 200-meters in the world this year and 1 second off the American, Collegiate and Tyson Center record set by Olympians Shawn Crawford and John Capel at the 2000 NCAA Championships.

"I feel so much stronger," Spearmon said. "Coach (Lance) Brauman has worked with me in the off-season and you know this is the first time I've really had an off-season."

"Last year I wish it was like this one is going to be. The Olympics seemed like they came a year too early."

Spearmon bested his previous best indoor time of 20.74.

He was expected to compete with Omar Brown, Terry Gatson and David Wittenmyer, but UA coach John McDonnell said he will probably scratch the event to keep his sprinters healthy and attempt to qualify for the NCAAs at a later meet.

In the men's distance medley relay, the Arkansas Track Club, a virtual all-star team consisting of former Razorbacks Daniel Lincoln, Maurice Bridges, James Karanu and Alistair Cragg, overtook Arkansas' A team to win the event in 9.28.55.

The A team of Adam Perkins, Gatson, James Hatch and Said Ahmed finished with a 9:37.77, missing the NCAA automatic qualifying mark of 9:33.

"That time is not going to get us in the distance medley, but we are going to run a lot faster than that," McDonnell said."

Perkins passed Lincoln on the final turn of the 1,200-meter leg. Gatson stretched the Razorbacks' lead as the 400-meter runner. Hatch went out fast in the 800 as the Hogs continued to slightly build its advantage until Arkansas TC passed the baton to Olympian Alistair Cragg.

Cragg stalked Ahmed for two laps before the former NCAA champion blew past his former teammate to win the event easily.

"We had some bright spots, but Hatch went out too fast in the 800 and so did Said in the mile," McDonnell said.

On the women's side, Brandy Blackwood won the women's weight throw and provisionally qualified for the NCAAs. Blackwood's throw of 19.52 meters was the second-best in school history.

The women's distance medley teams finished second and third behind LSU.

Neither of the Lady'Backs teams qualified for the NCAAs, but coach Lance Harter said winning and qualifying were not the goals for his relay teams.

"(To qualify) was not our intention," Harter said. "We wanted to run different combinations, to run as evenly as possible. To see who is going to do what. Then we are going to put it all together in New York."

Beyonka McDowell qualified for the NCAAs with a win in the pentathlon. Lauren Jakosky also provisionally qualified in the 5,000 meters in 16:36.92 to round out the women's qualifiers.

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