Lincoln Ready To Bounce Back In Steeple Finals

FAYETTEVILLE -- Daniel Lincoln is hoping a setback in training can lead to steps forward on the track.

Lincoln, who won four NCAA titles as a Razorback from 2001-03 and became the first American to win three straight steeplechase titles, will run in the finals of his specialty at 2:45 p.m. today at the U.S. Track and Field Championships hosted by the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

ESPN will broadcast live from Carson from 3-5 p.m. today with highlights from previous events as well.

A top three finish means another spot on the American team for the 2004 Olympic Trials champion and Olympic finalist who still trains at Arkansas under coach John McDonnell and has already been accepted to medical school at UAMS.

Lincoln was sidelined from January to April with stress fractures in his lower leg, an injury that bothered him periodically while he was a Razorback, but he still feels he can reach a level of fitness capable of breaking the American record of 8:09.17 held by Henry Marsh since 1985.

Lincoln ran the nation's fastest time last season with a personal-best 8:15.02 while winning the Olympic Trials in Sacramento, Calif., the scene of his unprecedented double wins in the 10,000 meters and steeple at the 2003 NCAA Championships.

Lincoln spent months in the pool doing cardiovascular work and has noticed some spring in his step since he ran a rough two-mile race at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., a few weeks ago.

He ran 8:32 for two miles which he could only say "wasn't a disaster", but has felt sharper since.

"The race sparked my training a little bit," he said. "I've had really good workout sessions since then. We'll see how it translates to this race."

After running the fastest qualifying time Thursday night in 8:35.32, Lincoln expects today's race to come down to him, 2004 runner-up Anthony Famiglietti, Steve Slattery and Ohio State coach Robert Gary.

"There's four guys for three spots," said Lincoln. "I think it will be a good race."

Lincoln has a full schedule of meets in July in Europe following the U.S. Championships with two steeple races before the World Championships in Helsinki, Finland, August 6-14.

"I can usually get in pretty good shape in a shorter season," Lincoln said. "I have the amount of time we had during indoor season. I can get in great shape and give that American record a good shot this summer. I may be coming in with really fresh legs.

"Doing some of these workouts, I'm surprised how much bounce I have in my legs. I think it has to do with so much time taken off."

Lincoln has spoken with other runners who have missed large chunks of training and still done great things.

Irishman Mark Carroll told Lincoln he missed seven weeks during the spring in the year he set national records in the 5,000 and 3,000.

"You never want to do (miss training) because it's risky," Lincoln said. "But if you can get back into shape, I think it could almost be a good thing."

Arkansas signee J-Mee Samuels, the nation's No. 1 prep sprinter out of Winston-Salem, N.C., won the American Junior 100 meters Thursday night in Carson with a photo finish win in 10.58 against Wompamo Osaisai of Stanford.

The time went down to the thousandth of a second with Osaisai posting an identical time of 10.58.

Samuels also won the adiadas high school national championships in the 100 (10.33) and 200 (20.98) on June 17 in Greensboro, N.C.

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