4x100 Blazes To School Record

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Omar Brown knew it was over when he took the baton just a meter or two behind LSU's Bennie Brazell on the anchor leg of the 4x100-meter relay.

The Arkansas senior from Jamaica thrilled the crowd and his teammates by chasing down and passing Brazell milliseconds before the finish line to hand the Razorbacks their second straight NCAA Mideast Regional title in the event at Billy Hayes Track.

The winning time of 38.73 was a new school record, shattering the previous best of 38.81 set 20 years ago by Razorback greats Wallace Spearmon Sr., Fred Cleary, Roddie Haley and Mike Conley.

A new generation of Hogs -- including Spearmon Jr. -- took the mantle they've been chasing since last season when an injury to Brown at the NCAA Championships cost them a chance at the record and Arkansas' first national title in the race.

"There was no doubt, mon," Brown said of his thoughts as he chased Brazell, a world-class intermediate hurdler. "I knew I as going to get him. He's just a 400 hurdler and I'm a sprinter.

"There's no way a 400 hurdler is going to beat a sprinter down the homestretch. I didn't have any doubts."

Arkansas did just about everything it was supposed to on Saturday during the final session of the Mideast meet with the glaring exception being defending NCAA 100 champion Gay false-starting out of the finals in his specialty.

Counting alternate Creighton Kiper, who earned All-American honors last year when Brown went down, Arkansas is sending 15 athletes to the NCAA Championships.

Arkansas also lost Said Ahmed for good after he couldn't go in the 1,500 meter finals after reaggravating his right hamstring in the prelims on Friday.

"All in all , this was a good meet for us," said Arkansas coach John McDonnell. "There's always things that are going to happen. Said, he couldn't make it after the first round. That's the luck of draw. His chances of making it were slim and none."

The Razorbacks won their third straight meaningless team title at the Mideast Regional with 94 points to Auburn's 58, but things changed quickly after the day's headline seemed to be the 4x100 relay team's record-setting win.

Gay said he didn't feel comfortable in the blocks and as he raised up, the wind threw him off balance and he couldn't keep his weight from falling forward.

"I was in the blocks and when they said, ‘set,'" Gay said. "I didn't know to raise my hand (to ask for a reset) because I never false start. The wind picked up and I leaned forward and I couldn't hold myself up. I told them I was trying to raise my hand up, but they wouldn't let that ride."

Saturday marked the second straight year Arkansas has lost a defending national champion at the regional meet.

Alistair Cragg was disqualified from the 5,000 after a meet referee erroneously excused him from competition because of injury and the Hogs lost a sure 10 points at the NCAA meet.

Gay's successful defense of his 100 title was less of a given, but it represents a serious hit to Arkansas' scoring chances June 8-11 in Sacramento, Calif., as the Hogs pursue their third straight outdoor title and 41st overall under McDonnell.

Gay, who ran a lights-out third leg to get Brown in position to win the 4x100, bounced back to take runner-up in the 200 finals with a season-best 20.1 to automatically advance to the NCAAs.

Under last year's rules, Gay would have advanced to the NCAAs, but after revisions following several questionable false starts in the first two years, the rules were changed.

A false-start means no chance at the NCAA meet.

With all that in mind, Gay was nearly in tears as he walked slowly off the field, but he came back with a vengeance an hour later in the 200.

"You've seen him for two years," said sprints coach Lance Brauman. "He's a champion. He's going to step up to the plate every time it counts. Any other year, he's in the national championships. This year, they changed it and it bit us."

Gay didn't blame the pressure surrounding him as he nears the start of his professional career, but he said he definitely felt it after false-starting out of the 100.

"I'm going pro after this year, there's a lot of people out here watching, agents and everything," Gay said. "I had a lot of pressure on me.

"I have a lot of people doubting me, but I'll be able to prove myself at the professional level and in the 200 at nationals."

Gay was followed by Spearmon in 20.38 and Brown in 20.49. SEC champion Xavier Carter of LSU snuck up again from lane eight and won in 20.02, just off Spearmon's world-leading time of 19.97.

Brauman revealed after the 200 that Spearmon has been feeling some knee pain for the past three weeks and his star sophomore said he really felt it during the 100-meter finals at the SECs, shortly before he was upset by Carter.

Brauman said Spearmon, the defending NCAA outdoor 200 champion, has grown an inch and a half in the last year and he hoped his knee problems were "growing pains."

"Wallace has been a little dinged up," Brauman said. "He's had some knee pain we've battling the last few weeks. 20.38 isn't bad, but he has to be 100 percent if he wants to win that thing at nationals."

Adam Perkins won the 1,500 to claim his berth in the NCAA Championships, as did Terry Gatson with his fourth-place finish in the 400.

Gatson, the school indoor 400 record holder and the NCAA indoor runner-up, looked strong for two one-lap races this weekend and hopes to be close to full strength after his lower back has bothered him the last six weeks.

"If I can get to the finals, I'm pretty sure I'll execute like I did at indoors," he said. "Don't count me out."

P.J. Brown took second in the pole vault to earn his first trip to NCAAs in his senior season. Jaanus Uudmae was third in the triple jump to earn his ticket to NCAAs.

Brown took second with a clearance of 16 feet, 7.25 inches thanks to fewer misses at the opening height

Arkansas got an expected qualifier in the 5,000 and a surprise one in Seth Summerside.

Boit, the school-record holder in the 10,000 meters already holding a spot in that event at NCAAs, earned another entry with his fourth-place finish in the 5,000.

The surprise of the meet again was Summerside, who took an upset second in the 5K at the Southeastern Conference Championships two weeks ago.

Summerside finished sixth, but his new personal best of 14:00.83 was good enough to earn him an at-large bid to NCAAs.

James Hatch cramped up in the homestretch of the 800 and finished seventh, but he will be one of the first athletes awarded an at-large bid after his 1;47.35 to win the SEC.

Peter Kosgei won the steeplechase to earn an automatic bid to NCAAs, where he'll be a strong contender to be the first Hog to win the event since Daniel Lincoln won three straight from 2001-03.

Another surprise qualifier was transfer and former junior college champion Jose Campos, who ran a personal-best 8:47.97, just ahead of the winner from heat one for an automatic berth.

The time was Campos' third PR this season.

"He deserves a break," McDonnell said. "Hopefully in two weeks he'll do better again."


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