Arkansas' Jumps Return In Dominant Form

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Arkansas jumps coach Dick Booth couldn't remember if his triple jumpers had ever scored 27 points in a single conference meet.

That is exactly what a quartet of Arkansas jumpers did Sunday at the Southeastern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships in the O'Connell Center.

Led by a winning performance by defending champion Jaanus Uudmae, Arkansas finished first, second, fourth and fifth in the event.

For the weekend, Arkansas scored 41 points in the two horizontal jumping events and the high jump -- more than the entire Auburn, Ole Miss and Kentucky track teams.

"We're back," Booth said after Arkansas won its 13 SEC indoor meet. "That is what it used to be and we need to keep it there. It worked today, but those distances aren't going to hold up all the time."

The most impressive finish was by freshman Nkosinza Balumbu, who placed second with a jump of 52 feet, 8 3/4 inches.

Balumbu, of Union City, Calif., came to Arkansas as the Nike Athlete of the Year, Track & Field News All-American and was a member of the USA Today's All-USA team. He led the nation's top high school triple jump mark of 2005 with a jump of 52-4 outdoors.

"He didn't surprise me," Booth said. "He's quite a guy. He was fresh because he didn't jump in the long jump (Saturday). I think he will end up being special."

Greg Martin, a junior, placed fourth in the triple jump (50-9 1/2) and second in the high jump (6-11 1/2) for his best conference meet of his career.



Back-To-Back

Arkansas miler Said Ahmed become the first Razorback to win back-to-back mile championships, since Arkansas joined the SEC in the fall of 1991.

The last to win back-to-back was Reuben Reina in 1990-91 when Arkansas was in the old Southwestern Conference.

In total, three other Razorbacks have pulled off the feat -- Joe Falcon (1987-89), Paul Donovan (1985-86) and Mike Clark (1978-79).



First-Time Winner

In a conference where track and field dynasties seem more common than high gas prices, an unusual occurrence took place Sunday at the 2006 SEC Indoor Championships in the Stephen O'Connell Center. For the first time in its history, Georgia was able to win a women's indoor track and field conference title, claiming the 2006 crown with 101.5 points at this year's competition, enough to outlast Auburn for the team championship.

The Lady Bulldogs became just the sixth school to win an SEC women's indoor crown -- usually reserved for powerhouses LSU (which has won 10 titles) and Florida (five titles) -- and also won only their second-ever track and field title overall, the other being an outdoor championship in 1995.

"If anybody said coming in, Georgia was going to win this thing, they would have said no way," said Arkansas women's track coach Lance Harter. "But they just got on a roll."



Sporting The Shades

Kenny Cormier's future is so bright he's gotta wear shades.

The freshman distance runner ran both the 3,000 meters and Sunday's 5,000 meters wearing sunglasses.

Cormier, of Douglas, Ariz., finished ninth, one place out of scoring, in the men's 5,000.

So, what's the allure of wearing sunglasses at an indoor track meet?

"It was something I did in high school and its comfortable for me," Cormier said. "It also helps me focus."



MORNING NEWS SPORTS WRITER VERNON TARVER CONTRIBUTED TO THIS REPORT


Hawgs Daily Top Stories