Arkansas Has Another Steeple Stud

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas has found a new stud in the steeplechase.

Sophomore All-American Peter Kosgei ran the sixth-fastest time in Razorbacks history Saturday at the John McDonnell Invitational and may be making a move to join the likes of former Arkansas NCAA champions Daniel Lincoln and Matt Kerr.

Kosgei's winning time of 8:35.4 came unchallenged and currently ranks as the second-fastest in the nation.

Kosgei, who followed closely behind teammate Josphat Boit in his school-record breaking run in the 10,000 meters last month to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships, has now presented McDonnell with a pleasant problem of deciding whether to double him in the 5,000 and 10K or the steeple and the 10K.

"He's amazing," McDonnell said of his sophomore transfer from Harding University who clinched his 40th NCAA title by taking second in the 3,000 at the Indoor Championships last month. "For going out as fast as he did, he hung in great for a first race. That wind takes no mercy on you. I was very pleased with his performance. I really was."

Kosgei had the fastest time in NCAA Division II last season in the steeple (8:52.99), making his Saturday time a personal best by nearly 18 seconds.

McDonnell was particularly pleased with Kosgei and Arkansas junior Eric Brown, who proved he can throw well outside of Austin, Texas, on Saturday.

Brown's school-record javelin throw of 248 feet, 5 inches and Kosgei's steeple were the highlights as the top-ranked and two-time defending champion Razorbacks added NCAA regional qualifiers from Tony Ugoh (discus), Michael Grant (100), Creighton Kiper (100), Wallace Spearmon Jr. (100), the 4x100-meter relay team, Tyson Gay (200), Omar Brown (200) and Said Ahmed (1,500).

Gay made his open race debut in the 200 and cruised in with a 20.58 to Brown's 20.53. Gay, who missed the last month of indoor season with a hamstring injury, was leading until easing up at the last 15 meters and allowing Brown to overtake him.

"The main thing is we made it through the meet with no injuries," McDonnell said.

Brown has won the Texas Relays javelin in each of the last two years and had his personal-best and school-record toss of 246 feet, 3 inches at the NCAA Championships last June in Austin for a surprise third place.

The All-American from Baldwin, Kan., shattered his school record Saturday with a winning throw of 248-5 inches, more than 26 feet farther than the nearest competitor.

Brown opened the season with a 236-10 at Texas and followed that up with a 237-11 at Mt. SAC last weekend.

"It's good to finally PR. I knew I should have sooner this year," Brown said. "I've got bigger goals, but it's nice to throw well at home. The conditions were good. I felt good. It was definitely a good day. I'm very happy with it."

Brown's mark is less than an inch off the national lead currently held by Gabriel Wallin of Boise State at 248-5.75.

"Eric was brilliant," McDonnell said.

Brown had two throws past 240 feet in the finals and he was pleased to pull such marks out in the later stages of the competition.

"All my throws were good," Brown said. "I got much more consistent. The first two meets I've had one good throw and fallen off. It was nice to have every throw be a good throw."

Brown will throw the javelin one more time next week at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia before the Southeastern Conference Championships next month.

Brown is looking forward to seeing former Penn star Brian Chaput, who won the NCAA title last season as a senior with Wallin second.

Chaput won the overall title at the Texas Relays two weeks ago with a winning throw of 259-0.

The 4x100-meter relay team of Grant, Spearmon, Gay and Brown made its season debut but had to deal with a bit of a headwind on the backstretch and a lack of competition from the field.

Arkansas, which passed the baton fairly smoothly, won easily in 40.23 and qualified for the Mideast Regional heading into the Penn Relays next weekend.

Less than an hour after running the 4x100, Spearmon won the 100 in 10.21 after posting a 10.23 in the preliminary round.

Spearmon, who owns the American record in the indoor 200, two NCAA titles at the distance and already leads the world in the 200 meters this outdoor season with a 19.97, now ranks seventh in the 100.

With the boost of a barely-legal tailwind of 3.1 meters/second (less than 4.0 is required for regional qualifying), Arkansas added regional qualifiers in Creighton Kiper and Grant, who took fourth and fifth in identical times of 10.41 to surpass the standard of 10.5.

Kiper posted a 10.407 to just edge Grant, also a cornerback for the football team, in 10.41.

"It was a pretty productive day," said Arkansas sprints coach Lance Brauman. "Everyone ran well, we got a lot of regional qualifiers out of the way. We got clean sticks on the relay, but it wasn't nearly what I think we're capable of. I think we ran it a little tentative. All in all, it was a very good day. Tyson showed he's back and ready to run."

Arkansas added another regional qualifier with another two-sport athlete, starting left tackle Ugoh, who won the discus with a throw of 168-10. The throw was a personal best and more than three feet farther than the regional standard.

The 800 was a small disappointment as Arkansas failed to get new qualifiers out of James Hatch or Harun Iman.

Hatch, who has struggled all outdoor season since his surprise runner-up at the NCAA indoor meet, finished third in 1:51.64, more than a full second off the regional standard of 1:50.4.

Iman was fourth in a season-best 1:51.87.

McDonnell said both Hatch and Iman have been under the weather lately and he expects them to be able to crack the regional standard by the SEC Championships next month.

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