Arkansas Stumbles Out Of Gate

AUSTIN, Texas -- Arkansas didn't exactly put its best foot forward in its first team event at the 78th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays.

The Razorbacks failed to win the 4x800-meter relay for the first time in four years after coach John McDonnell said his team folded under the blustery conditions.

"We let the wind affect us," said McDonnell after his team finished a distant sixth after anchor leg James Hatch took the baton in third place following a courageous third leg by Harun Iman. "The wind doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is winning."

The Razorbacks completed the relay in 7:31.53, nearly 10 seconds behind Southern Cal, who won the event for the first time in school history.

Top-ranked Arkansas will look to get itself going today in the sprint medley and 4x1,500-meter relays. The Razorbacks have won six 4x1,500 titles in a row but haven't won the sprint medley since 2000 when they set the Texas Relays record.

Hatch, who had a penchant for underachieving before his surprise runner-up finish in the 800 indoors, found his way back into McDonnell's doghouse after he failed to contend on his anchor leg.

Hatch took the baton in a tight back with Kansas, Oklahoma, Baylor and Jackson State but allowed everyone to get away from him within the first 150 meters of his leg.

Arkansas didn't run the kind of top-notch group as it has in years past with transfer Brian Roe on the leadoff leg followed by former West Plains, Mo., teammate Adam Perkins, who is more of a mile/long distance specialist and earned All-American honors for his sixth-place finish in the 3,000 at the NCAA indoor meet.

"Harun ran a beautiful race," McDonnell said. "Other than Harun, I don't think the guys had their heads in it today. Hopefully they got that out of their system."

Hatch's poor anchor leg Thursday will likely mean NCAA indoor 400-meter runner-up Terry Gatson will run his first 800 at Arkansas to anchor the sprint medley.

McDonnell said Gatson has the perfect build for an 800 runner and has the toughness the race requires.

"I'd like to see Gatson in it," McDonnell said of the sprint medley anchor. "Just for the heck of it. Let's see what happens."

Arkansas All-Americans Josphat Boit and Peter Kosgei, who both broke the Razorbacks 10,000-meter record last Friday at Stanford with their 1-2 finish, will run on the 4x,1,500 relay in tonight's final event.

Senior Said Ahmed will likely take another spot with McDonnell still trying to decide on a fourth, but he said Thursday he may go with Perkins.

The sprint medley will be led off by freshman and Arkansas cornerback Michael Grant followed by new American indoor 200 record holder and two-time NCAA champion Wallace Spearmon on the first two 200-meter legs.

Omar Brown will run the 400-meter leg and Gatson the 800 anchor in an event scheduled for 8:10 p.m.

Grant will also run in the 100-meter prelims along with sophomore Creighton Kiper this morning.

Junior transfer Jose Campos will run the steeplechase for the first time as a Razorback tonight at 9:30. Campos was the 2003 junior college national champion in the event.

Jaanus Uudmae and Greg Martin will long jump today.

Brown, Gatson, Spearmon and five-time All-American and 2004 NCAA outdoor 100 champion Tyson Gay will run in the Cleburn Price Jr. invitational 4x400-meter relay on Saturday in the meet's final event.

Other Razorbacks competing Thursday were Jimmy Duke moving up to finish 13th in the decathlon with 5,759 points, well below his career-best of 6,532 at last season's Southeastern Conference Championships.

Hurdlers David Wittenmeyer and Brad Dittoe did not advance in the 400-meter hurdle prelims and junior Tony Ugoh fouled on all three attempts in the hammer.

Ugoh will compete in the discus, his specialty, today.

Junior Matt Gunn was ninth in the 5,000 meters and teammate Abdi Dubed was 13th.

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