Arkansas Well Represented At Worlds

FAYETTEVILLE -- Tyson Gay made red and white look pretty good for the two years he was a Razorback.

Now he can sprinkle in a little blue.

Gay, 22, successfully made the transition to the professional ranks following his senior season at Arkansas by going stride for stride with two of America's greatest sprinters over the weekend and earning a spot on the national team for the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, Finland, Aug. 6-14.

Gay took second in the 200 meters in 20.06 seconds, just a hair behind 2004 Olympic 100 gold medalist Justin Gatlin (20.04) and a step ahead of defending Olympic 200 champion Shawn Crawford (20.12) on Sunday in Carson, Calif.

"It's a great way to start his professional career," said Arkansas sprints coach Lance Brauman, who still trains Gay. "He looked good the whole weekend. I thought he won the race from where I was sitting. He was right there at the end and both of those guys are gold medalists. It was a great run."

Gay was one of nine former or future Razorbacks who qualified for either the World Championships or the World Youth Games last weekend.

Daniel Lincoln (2000-03), Matt Hemingway (1992-96), Veronica Campbell (2004), Omar Brown (2004-05), Aneita Denton (2004-05), Wallace Spearmon Jr. (2004-05), Gi-Gi Miller (2000-01) and Hog signees J-Mee Samuels and Nkosinza Balumbu all qualified for international competition.

Lincoln won the U.S. steeplechase for the second straight year, Hemingway, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist, won the high jump and Campbell won the 100 and 200 at the Jamaican national championships.

Campbell had been hobbled by a hamstring injury in the last three weeks but was game enough to win both races.

"She's obviously pretty special," Brauman said. "She had not done much in the last three weeks. She just got in the blocks and won. She's got the gift."

Brown made it on the Jamaican 200 team, Denton, the two-time NCAA 800 champion, was the runner-up in the event for Jamaica with a personal-best 2:01.91 and Miller was the U.S. runner-up in the heptathlon.

Samuels won the U.S. junior 100 and took second in the 200. Balumbu was third in the triple jump. Both made the American team for the World Youth Games in Marrakech, Morrocco July 13-17.

Gay considered going pro last summer after he won the NCAA 100 meters title in Austin, Texas, but followed the advice of Razorbacks coach John McDonnell to come back.

His patience led to Arkansas' first NCAA title in the 4x100-meter relay, a personal-best of 19.93 in the 200 and a high-paying, six-year deal with adidas.

"It's crazy," a slightly sleepy Gay said Monday morning. "I just stayed humble, prayed to God and worked hard. I had a lot of negative thoughts in my mind. 'What if I get fourth? What if I get fifth?' I just prayed I made the team.

"I'm just happy now."

Fellow former Hog, NCAA champion and world-leader Spearmon finished fourth and one spot out of the three spots for the American team, but on Monday, Brauman said Spearmon and Gay were selected to the 4x100 relay pool for the World Championships.

"There was a big difference between 1-2-3-4 in the 200 and the rest of the field," Brauman said. "(Spearmon and Gay) proved they deserved a shot to be on the relay team is what the (relay coaches) told me."

Gay and Spearmon will rest and train in Fayetteville for the next few weeks before heading to Europe for meets in London and Oslo, Norway, before the World Championships.

Spearmon, who went pro with McDonnell's blessing after two stellar seasons out of Fayetteville High, still has a chance to run the 200 if Crawford decides to pull out.

Crawford told Gay after the race he's had a bit of a foot injury.

"He said he might give up his spot," Gay said. "I think he was going to talk to his agent and his coach and they were going to make a final decision sometime. It's just a possibility.

"I think he may be slightly injured. I believe he has a humble heart. I'm just thinking he'll make that decision in a couple weeks. If he feels better, he is the Olympic champion."

Campbell, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist in the 200 and 4x100 relay and the bronze winner in the 100, captured the Jamaican national titles in the 100 (10.97) and 200 (22.53) over the weekend.

Lady'Backs coach Lance Harter laughed relaying the way his assistant Lonnie Greene described Campbell's 200 win.

Greene has a young son named Isiah and it looked like he was entered in the race as Campbell eased up 30 meters from the finish and still cruised across nearly two tenths of a second ahead of runner-up Sheri-Ann Brooks.

"Lonnie said it was like Veronica versus eight little Isiahs," Harter said. "Like playing with children. They have great sprinters down there, but Veronica made it look easy."

Brown, who transferred with Gay from Barton County (Kan.) and also completed his eligibility this season as the anchor leg on 13 straight wins for the Razorbacks' relay, was third in the Jamaican 200 in 20.49 and made the national team for the second time in his career.

Brown made the 2000 Jamaican team in the 4x100 but was injured before the Sydney Olympics.

Brown, Campbell, Gay and Spearmon all train with Brauman in Fayetteville and Gay is looking forward to the group making the trip to Helsinki.

"Our whole camp made the team," Gay said. "I'm just thinking about going over there and having a good time."

Lincoln, the first American to win three NCAA steeple titles, was particularly excited about his win after missing more than four months of training this year with stress fractures in his lower leg.

His time of 8:17.27 was just off his personal-best of 8:15.02 posted while winning the Olympic Trials last summer.

He'll run a 3,000 in Cork, Ireland, this weekend, followed by a fast steeple at the Golden League meet in Rome. Lincoln will run another 3,000 in Madrid, Spain, and another steeple in Stockholm, Sweden, in late July as a final tune-up.

Lincoln said his legs feel fresh and his cardiovascular level is good after a couple months of running in the pool.

"The engine was purring," he said. "It was definitely a good feeling. A lot of times races end up being a sort of pain-fest. You have to really put yourself though some hard work to pull off a win. This weekend was fun."

After putting in work in near-obscurity for the past three years, Miller's breakthrough in the heptathlon was a highlight of the weekend.

Miller, an All-American in 2001 with many of Arkansas' heptathlon records, led going into the javelin but ended up 11 points behind former NCAA champion Hyleas Fountain going into the 800.

Needing to post lower than a 2:20 for the 800 to make the 'A' qualifying standard, Miller ran a 2:16.83 and scored a personal best 6,192 points.

"Gi-Gi did a great job," Harter said. "I know she's had some setbacks. To make a World Championship team, what a great honor."

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