Hogs Script Perfect End To Season
Not even Hollywood could come up with a better script than the one Spearmon and his Razorback teammates penned over four days in Sacramento at the 2005 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
The 40th sequel to Arkansas coach John McDonnell's first national championship was unlike any he'd ever had, a remarkable feat considering how many titles he's won since 1984.
Arkansas won its first 4x100-meter relay championship and captured the team title for the first time without the benefit of an individual winner in either of the Razorbacks' traditional power events in the distances or jumps.
The Razorbacks got more points from the javelin than they did the triple jump and two years after Alistair Cragg and Daniel Lincoln combined for 38 points with wins in the 5,000, steeplechase and 10,000 to key the team title, Arkansas scored 17 in those three events this time around.
This year, Arkansas scored 29 points in the 4x100, the 200 and the 400 for nearly half of the Hogs' 60 total.
"I love coach McDonnell, but we sprinters got to eat, too," said a smiling Spearmon, who will be eating just fine after winning his second straight NCAA outdoor 200 title by retaking the world lead and school record back from senior teammate Tyson Gay with his time of 19.91 seconds.
"A victory is a victory no matter how you do it," said Arkansas sprints coach Lance Brauman, who bids adieu to Spearmon, Gay, Omar Brown and Terry Gatson after two brilliant years each and six school records. "It's been a combination of everything this weekend."
The results keep adding up to the same championships, and McDonnell doesn't care how they come.
"I have no problem with that," McDonnell said. "The only problem I have is when we're not scoring points."
The 66-year-old and often self-deprecating McDonnell loves poking fun at his age and his gray hair growing ever thinner.
He even called himself a "dinosaur" after the meet.
If he is, then he's a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
"When you hang around like me, you just keep adding on," he said. "We don't like to lose.
"That's the great thing. It makes it easy for the coaches. It's been handed down."
Combined with what Arkansas is returning next year and quite possibly the greatest recruiting class ever put together at any school enrolling this fall, don't expect the Razorback dynasty to become extinct any time soon.
Returning for the Razorbacks are:
Sophomore Peter Kosgei, the high-point scorer at the Southeastern Conference Championships who scored 14 points this weekend with his runner-up in the steeplechase and his third in the 10,000. He's run the second-fastest 10K in school history and the third-fastest steeple.
Sophomore Adam Perkins, who knocked six seconds off his personal best in the 1,500 and cracked the Arkansas top 10 list with his fourth-place finish in 3:38.54 to qualify for the U.S. Championships in two weeks.
Junior Josphat Boit, sixth in the 10K and the third finisher at the NCAA Cross Country Championships last fall.
Junior Eric Brown, fourth in the javelin, will be the top returner next year in the event with the three seniors who finished ahead of him departing.
Freshman Michael Grant, the football cornerback who became the first dual-sport athlete since Clyde Scott in 1948 to win a track national title as the leadoff leg on the 4x100 relay.
Junior Marc Rodrigues, an All-American finishing 25th at the NCAA Cross Country meet.
Sophomore Seth Summerside, the SEC runner-up in the 5K who just missed a berth in the 5K finals this weekend.
Junior Jose Campos, a former junior college steeple champion, he lowered his personal best three times this season at the SEC, Mideast Regional and NCAA Championships.
Incoming for the Hogs include Footlocker cross country champion Kenny Cormier, fifth-place finisher Chris Barnicle, Daniel LaCava (35th), Ben Shultz (38th) and Scott MacPherson (39th).
Tired of losing the NCAA cross title to teams recruiting nearly exclusively distance runners to knock off the Razorbacks, who haven't won a cross title since 1999, McDonnell loaded up with distance stars in this signing class with the promise he'd see them through their senior years.
Cormier (mile) and Barnicle (two-mile) are currently ranked No. 1 in their events and Arkansas also signed Irish junior 1,500-meter record holder Colin Costello.
Departing senior Jaanus Uudmae was the first Razorback to score in either the long or triple jumps outdoor since 1999 with his fifth-place finish Saturday, but that trend is expected to shift upward with the signing of Nkosinza Balumbu of Union City, Calif., the nation's top-ranked triple jumper.
And though McDonnell and Brauman are sad to see the last of Spearmon and Gay, who combined to win five NCAA titles, they are just as excited to get J-Mee Samuels of Winston-Salem, N.C., the nation's top-ranked sprinter in the 200 meters.
"He said he's going to beat us all," Spearmon said. "He's got the tools. He might do it."
Samuels has personal bests of 10.22 in the 100 and 20.58 in the 200.
Consider Walter Dix of Florida State won the 100 this year in 10.21 seconds.
"We're going to break (Spearmon's school record in the 200) next year," McDonnell said. "(Samuels) has run faster than they did in high school.
"I hope he does."
After what Arkansas has done in the last two years and especially over the last 20, no one should be surprised the next time.
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