Gay Debuts With School Record Time

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas senior Tyson Gay fell at the finish line of the 60 meters Friday night.

So did his school record.

Gay came up a hundredth of a second behind champion Jason Smoots, who won the Powered By Tyson Invitational 60 meters in 6.54 seconds, but Gay's trademark lean earned him runner-up honors in 6.55.

Gay's time before 4,532 fans in the Randal Tyson Track Center bettered his previous school-record of 6.57 posted last February at the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships.

The time also automatically qualifies Gay for the NCAA Championships March 11-12 in Fayetteville.

"I wasn't trying to break the school record, so that was pretty good," Gay said.

Gay won his final three 100-meter races of last outdoor season by a thousandth of a second at the SEC Outdoor, NCAA Mideast Regional and NCAA Outdoor Championships, but didn't quite have the dip to edge Smoots, a two-time NCAA Division II champion from North Carolina Central now running for Nike.

Gay overstrided, planted on his right leg and skidded to the track.

He got up quickly and walked off, but was grabbing his troublesome right hamstring long after the race.

"I was trying to win," Gay said. "I didn't expect it to be that close. When I saw it was that close, I tried to dip and overstrided and hurt my hamstring a little bit.

"It's tight. I'm going to get some work on it."

A twinge in the same hamstring caused Gay to pull up and drop out of the finals of the 200-meter finals at the U.S. Olympic Trials last July, his last race before Friday night.

Arkansas sprints coach Lance Brauman said Gay was feeling the effects of his hard fall.

"When you fall down like that and you get overstrided, everything feels bad," Brauman said. "We'll see how he feels."

Provided Gay didn't do any serious harm to his hamstring, his time is a very good sign for the Razorbacks.

"A (personal record) in your first race without a prelim is a pretty good race, I'd say," Brauman said.

Brauman said he thought Gay would be ready to run such an time early in the season before Christmas, but Gay went home to Kentucky and couldn't work out with 14 inches of snow on the ground.

"His Christmas wasn't as good as we'd hoped," Brauman said. "We had to spend the past few weeks getting back to where we were at."

Gay has made up ground in the last few weeks and broke the school record without even trying.

His start and early drive were good and had him even with the field, leaving him in a position to dip for the win rather than trying to come from behind.

Last season, poor starts often had Gay rushing to catch up.

That wasn't the case Friday.

"I think it was better," he said. "It wasn't so much quick, but my positioning helped set me up for the finish."

Gay knocked off 2003 NCAA 100 champion Mardy Scales (6.59), who Gay edged out for the 2004 NCAA 100 title, Olympian Terrence Trammell (6.69), who set the Tyson Center record in 2003 with a time 6.46 and 2003 U.S. 100 champion Darvis Patton (6.78).

In such a loaded field, Brauman just wanted Gay to enjoy his first race of the season.

"He said be aggressive but have fun at the same time," Gay said. "Breaking the record is a good start."

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