Spearmon Sets American Record In 200

FAYETTEVILLE -- On a day that was supposed to highlight the sprinting talents of Wallace Spearmon and the national dominance of Arkansas track and field, the Razorbacks were riddled with a bomb shell Friday when 10 precious points were pulled from Arkansas' grasp after it was disqualifed from the distance medley relay.

With sophomore 200-meter sprinter Spearmon winning his race and breaking the American record twice, two distance runners scoring in the 5,000, and many more athletes qualifying for finals today, the NCAA Indoor Championships at the Randal Tyson Center could not have shaped up any better.

In the final event of the day, the distance medley relay, Arkansas' Said Ahmed clipped Michigan's Nate Brannen at the finish line to give the Razorbacks a thrilling DMR upset and a nine-point lead over Oregon in the team competition.

Ten minutes after the race was over and McDonnell and the winning DMR team had concluded their interviews, the public address announcer read off the results of the race -- excluding Arkansas from the list with Michigan as the national champion.

Michigan was named the winner of the event after Arkansas had been disqualifed for impeding a Michigan runner near the finish line.

Donna Thomas, chairman of the NCAA Track and Field Committee, released the following statement: "The University of Arkansas distance medley relay team was disqualified by the referee. The referee's interpertation of the rule is that the young man from Arkansas (Ahmed) impeded the progress of the runner from Michigan (Brannen). Arkansas appealed the decision of the referee to the Games Committee and the Games Committee upheld the decision of the referee. No video tape was used to make the determination.

According to rule, video tape is not allowed to be used to make a determination. So, as it stands, Michigan is the winner of the men's distance medley relay."

Thomas would not take questions from the media.

Arkansas' McDonnell declined to comment on the ruling by the NCAA through sports information director Stephanie Wetzel.

After day one, Oregon leads the men's meet with 20 points, Arkansas is a disappointed second with 19 and Wisconsin in next with 16.

Michigan, which protested the Arkansas victory in the DMR,is in a three-way tie for 10th with 10 points -- all coming in the relay.

In the highlight event of the day, Spearmon broke the American record twice in less than two hours in the 200. He won the national title in the event with the second fastest 200 in history in 20.10 seconds.

The only man faster was Nambia's Frankie Fredericks, who holds the world record at 19.92.

"It was my coaching and my training. It was all going well," Spearmon said. "I'm nowhere near him yet."

In the preliminaries, Spearmon first set the American Record previously set by Shawn Crawford and John Capel at the 2001 NCAA Indoors on the same track in 20.26. Spearmon's ran the race in 20.20 out of lane 3, a world record in that lane.

The IAAF, the international governing body of track and field, does not offer the 200 race on the international circuit because of a distinct advantage for racers in higher lanes on a banked track.

All the more reason to marvel at Spearmon's accomplishment Friday night as he sent the Tyson Center crowd into a frenzy.

"I was hoping it was going to be fast. You can never project an American record," said Arkansas sprint coach Lance Brauman. "They come when they come.

"He's got a gift. You can't coach that kind of gift. You just help to refine it and point him in the right direction. Some people are born with it and he is one of them."

A big points pick up for the Razorbacks came from Omar Brown in the 200, when he finished fifth to give Arkansas a total of 14 points in the event. Brown entered Friday ranked No. 8 in the 200 and finished with a Jamaican national record time of 20.52.

In the 5,000, Josphat Boit led Arkansas with a sixth-place finish, followed by SEC Champion Peter Kosgei in seventh to pick up five more points. Boit and Kosgei shared the lead for much of the race before succumbing to pressure from more experienced runners at the national level.

Stanford's Ian Dobson outkicked defending national champion Robert Cheseret from Arizona to win the race in 13:43.36.

Ahmed, despite the disappointments of the disqualification, qualified for the finals of today's mile at 6:25 p.m. James Hatch added another finalist in the 800, which begins at 6:45.

Jaanus Uudmae is ranked third in the triple jump starting at 5:45. Arkansas also has a chance in the 4x400 relay at 8:20, which will be anchored by Spearmon.

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