Arkansas Makes Run at SEC Title

Arkansas scored 24 points in the 3,000-meter run and put itself in position to make a serious run at a sixth straight league title in Saturday's action at the 2002 Southeastern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Randal Tyson Track Center.

The Razorbacks sit in third place after day two of the three-day event with 34 points. Tennessee, ranked number one nationally in the latest Trackwire Online, leads the men's competition with 44 points while Georgia is second with 37.5 points.

An SEC title will be on the line on Sunday with pre-meet favorites Tennessee and Arkansas once again the odds on favorites to win the team title.

"It is going to be a nail-biter," Arkansas head coach John McDonnell. "We are going to have to have a good day tomorrow to win the thing. But that is all you can ask. We are in position and we will have to step up on Sunday."

The Razorbacks picked up a big boost in their title hopes in the final event of the afternoon. Arkansas earned 24 points after earning second, third, fourth, fifth and eighth place finishers in the 3,000 meters.

Sophomore Alistair Cragg garnered runner-up honors after making a spirited run at Alabama's David Kimani. In the end, Kimani held off the UA distance runner and won the event in the time of 7:57.05. Cragg clocked in at 7:57.07.

"Alistair ran a great race," McDonnell said. "He was right there at the finish. I was pleased with our performance. I was hoping to get 20 points and we exceeded that. That is what we needed to get in position for tomorrow."

Junior Daniel Lincoln ran 8:02.61 to finish third with sophomore Silverus Kimeli placing fourth in 8:03.21. Freshman Jason Sandfort garnered fifth with a split of 8:08.26 while sophomore Westley Alkin rounding out the UA finishers in eighth at 8:22.51.

The Hogs other 10 points on the day came from a pair of UA competitors in the long jump. Sophomore Maurice Robinson leaped 24-5.75 to capture third place and eight points. Junior Richard Smith garnered four points and a fifth-place showing on a jump of 23-11.50.

Arkansas also tallied a host of qualifiers for finals set for Sunday. Leading the way was sophomore Michael Thomas who smashed the school record in the 60-meter hurdles for the second time this season. Thomas won his heat and posted a NCAA provisional qualifying time of 7.76. It was the fifth-best collegiate time posted in the event this season.

Junior Eddie Jackson also advanced to the final in the 60-meter hurdles by claiming one of the final qualifying spots at 7.92. The Hogs set the table for a team championship run by racking up four qualifiers in the 800 meters and three more in the mile run. Sophomore Robbie Stevens made the most of his first race in a Razorback uniform by earning a provisional qualifying time of 1:49.64 in the 800. Joining Stevens in Sunday's 800 final will be teammates freshman Said Ahmed (1:49.05), sophomore Chris Mulvaney (1:49.78) and freshman Michael Taylor (1:50.23).

Cragg, freshman James Hatch and Kimeli all earned spots in Sunday's mile run final. Cragg posted a time of 4:04.20 in his first race at that distance this season. Hatch turned in the fifth-best qualifying time at 4:04.85.

Kimeli ran 4:05.48 to earn a spot in the mile final and tally a NCAA provisional qualifying time. The Eldoret, Kenya, product also earned a NCAA provisional qualifying time of 8:03.21 in the 3,000 meters.

A pair of Razorbacks posted quality times, but fell just short of advancing to the final in their respective events. Senior Sam Glover collected a NCAA provisional qualifying split of 47.14 in the 400 meters, but was the ninth-place finisher. Freshman sprinter Ahmad Carroll ran 6.77 in the 60-meter dash to place 11th.

Thomas (6.82) and sophomore Fred Talley (7.07) finished 15th and 26th, respectively, in the 60-meter dash. Sophomore Lawrence Richardson placed 18th in the 200-meter dash preliminaries in a time 21.61. Junior Josh Landreth garnered 20th place with a time of 48.17 in the 400-meter dash.

Glover posted a time of 8.02 to claim the 11th-best time in the 60-meter hurdles. Sophomore P.J. Brown and junior Josh Roberts didn't clear a height in the pole vault. Junior Ramon Washington placed 15th in the long jump after a mark of 21-10.25.

Arkansas will take to the track on Sunday in search of its 30th SEC crown including its 10th indoor team title in 11 tries. Field events begin at the Tyson Center at 11 a.m. with running events slated for 1 p.m.


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