Sweet Revenge For Razorbacks

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- For nearly 12 months, Arkansas waited. Tired of hearing about Florida, Florida, Florida in the 4x100-meter relay, the Razorbacks team of Michael Grant, Wallace Spearmon Jr., Tyson Gay and Omar Brown seized the day by knocking off the defending NCAA champion Gators in school-record fashion before 7,043 in Hornet Stadium.

The Razorbacks won their first national title in the 4x100 relay clocked in a school-record 38.49 seconds to Florida's 38.54 and followed by Peter Kosgei's runner-up finish in the steeplechase, No. 1 Arkansas claimed control of the team race entering the final day of the 2005 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

As if that wasn't enough, senior Terry Gatson turned around and ran the second-fastest 400 meters in school history (44.93) to advance to the finals today.

Arkansas leads with 32 points, No. 3 Florida is right behind with 23 following Josh Walker's second straight NCAA title in the 110-meter hurdles.

No. 2 Florida State got 10 from Walter Dix's win in the 100 and the Seminoles are in fifth with 17 points.

"We're doing everything possible," said Arkansas coach John McDonnell, who is chasing his 41st NCAA title. "If we don't win it, it won't be because we didn't have a good meet."

When Arkansas anchor leg Brown went down with a hamstring injury at the 2004 NCAA Outdoor Championships, Florida capitalized by winning the relay title while the Hogs took fifth.

Then, after the Razorbacks got stuck in the slow heat at the Southeastern Conference Championships last month, Florida won again without matching up against a full-speed Arkansas team and the Gators even rubbed it in with a little smack talk.

There was no avoiding the Hogs on Friday night and as Brown crossed the finish line a half step ahead of Kerron Clement in the next lane, he turned and shot a dirty look at the Gator while Gay raced behind with his index finger raised in the universal sign for No. 1.

"They won last year and I remember one of them telling Omar last year they were going to win it again," said Gay, who ran a blazing third leg to give Brown the lead entering the homestretch.

"But Omar said, ‘I don't think so.' It was great beating Florida because we have a little team rivalry. We don't like them. They don't like us. It feels good."

After running down LSU's Bennie Brazell at the NCAA Mideast Regional, Brown declared no intermediate hurdler could beat him on an anchor leg.

Brown backed that claim up Friday against world indoor 400 record-holder and defending NCAA 400-meter hurdle champion Clement after the Hogs finally got their chance at revenge.

"We'd been waiting all season to match up with them," Brown said. "We knew we had a better team and there was no way they could beat us."

After the race, Arkansas coach John McDonnell said in addition to losing seniors Brown and Gay, he planned to advise Spearmon to go professional after two highly successful seasons including two NCAA 200 meter titles and the American indoor record at the distance.

"It's great," McDonnell said. "I'm just happy for those young guys. Omar, Wallace and Tyson are moving on. It will be tough to replace those guys."

Arkansas sprints coach Lance Brauman was ecstatic after his world class team ran the sixth-fastest time in NCAA Championship history.

With Spearmon, Gay and Brown running the final three legs, Arkansas has now won 13 straight 4x100 races.

"Heck, we won," Brauman said. "I'm pretty excited. We didn't have perfect exchanges, but they were good enough. It's the best time at NCs in a while.

"I'm just almost speechless. I'm so excited. They wanted to win this real bad. It's not like Kerron Clement isn't a heck of an athlete and one of the best in the world. Omar held him off and ran to win. That's what we needed and we got it done."

Grant said he knew this day was coming.

"Once I got here and with the guys I'm running with, I pretty much expected it," Grant said. "It's good for it to become a reality."

Spearmon, who runs the backstretch leg, started jumping up and down as soon as he saw Brown within a step of Clement. At that point, he knew Brown would hold on for the win.

"Tyson did his thing," Spearmon said. "I've never seen anyone's legs move that fast in my life.

"I started celebrating early."

Kosgei, who took third in the 10,000 meters late Thursday with a strong final lap after getting passed on the backstretch, pulled off another miracle after Andy Smith of N.C. State and Mircea Bogdan of UTEP went by him on the bell lap.

Bogdan won with an incredible kick, but Kosgei overtook Smith on the last barrier in the homestretch to claim second in 8:29.13, the third-fastest time in school history.

"That is one unbelievable kid," McDonnell said. "Every time he races, I admire that kid more. He is a winner. He's only a sophomore and he almost pulled off a win.

"He ran the same thing (former Razorback and three-time NCAA steeplechase champion) Daniel Lincoln ran as a senior."

All-American junior Eric Brown took fourth in a hot javelin competition.

Trevor Snyder, the SEC champ from Georgia, led off with a throw of 249 feet, 6 inches and then Boise State's Gabriel Wallin trumped that on his first toss of 258-5.

Brown's best came on his last throw, but his 232-2 wasn't good enough to move up from fourth and five points.

Today, Arkansas will have Adam Perkins in the 1,500 finals at 8:20 p.m. central time coming off his five-second personal best on Thursday. Perkins has been on fire recently with a runner-up finish at the SEC Championships and the gold medal honors at the Mideast Regional.

Preceding Perkins will be Gatson in the 400 finals at 8 p.m. and Jaanus Uudmae, who made the finals with a best leap of 53-0.25 on Friday, in the triple jump at 7:30.

The Gators need good points from Mike Morrison -- fifth in the long jump late Thursday -- in the high jump and should get 10 points from defending champion Kerron Clement in the 400-meter hurdles, but LSU's Bennie Brazell could do Arkansas a favor by pulling an upset.

The team title will likely come down to three of the final events of the evening.

Arkansas will send Brown, Gay and Spearmon to the finals of the 200 meters at 9:10 with Florida State fielding 100 champion Dix and Florida hoping for points from Kyle Farmer, who was eighth in the 100.

The Razorbacks' last scoring chance will be Josphat Boit in the 5,000 meters at 9:50 and the Gators will get the opportunity to score last with their 4x400-meter relay team at 10:35.

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