Razorbacks Dominate 10,000

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' distance train was full-speed ahead.

Never before could Arkansas coach John McDonnell remember ever seeing his team pull off the feat it did Friday night at the Southeastern Conference Championships.

The Razorbacks distance crew scored 32 points in the 10,000 meters late into the night, placing all six athletes which entered.

Senior Josphat Boit ran a tactically pristine race to win his second consecutive SEC title in the event in a time of 29:01.83.

But what was equally impressive was the five teammates behind him.

Marc Rodrigues, who kept the pace with Boit for the better of 9,500 meters, outkicked Alabama's Abraham Kutingala for second place (29:04.26).

Then a train of Razorbacks crossed the finish line beginning with Shawn Forrest, a sophomore, in fourth. Josh Robles stayed with the lead group for more than half the race and held on to finish fifth. Jonathan Norris was sixth and Luis Bordes beat Ben Lukowski of Tennessee for seventh.

All of this for a total of 32 points and an early lead in the team standings.

After Friday's events, Arkansas had amassed 36 points, which included a fifth-place finish by decathlete Jimmy Duke, to lead Tennessee, which has 23. LSU is in third with 16.

"My wildest dream was 30 points and I would have been happy with 28," said Arkansas coach John McDonnell about Arkansas' dominance in the 10,000. "It was great teamwork. They laid it on the line. Hopefully, it gets the rest of the guys fired up."

Boit improved his already impressive distance resume, which now includes five SEC titles.

The win also earned Arkansas its 14th SEC 10,000 title since joining the conference 15 years ago.

"We wanted to run as a team," Boit said. "As long as the guys were together, we wanted it to be a steady run.

"This is amazing. I'm happy about it, especially winning in front of the home crowd."

McDonnell knows there is a lot of work ahead with Tennessee and LSU expecting big points in the field and sprint events.

Arkansas will look to the steeplechase today and the 1,500 and 5,000 on Sunday to keep afloat in the race for the team title.

"We've taken the first step in the right direction," McDonnell said. "The more steps the better for us.

"I feel like we've done what we are supposed to do. I think it will be real close."

In the decathlon, Duke, who sat in seventh place after the first five events held Friday, finished fifth in the men's decathlon, scoring 6,557 points.

Duke moved up the ranks with solid performances in the pole vault, his best event, and the 110 hurdles.

His vault of 15-1, earned Duke 790 points and was the third-best vault of the competition. He also finished fifth in the 110 hurdles.

"That was great. Jimmy has been hurt," McDonnell said. "He insisted on doing the decathlon. I was really pleased."

Duke failed to complete the decathlon at the Texas Relays in April. This week's SECs was his first meet since the foot injury.

Duke's placement was also aided when LSU's Edwin Billot pulled out of the decathlon, suffering from a sore back Friday morning. Billot was in third place after the first day of competition.

Tennessee's Chris Helwick defended his SEC decathlon title with 7,765 points. Entering the final event, the 1,500, Helwick trailed LSU's Darion Powell by 18 points. But Helwick won the 1,500 in 4:33.96, with Powell well back.

Brian Roe, a sophomore, is in position to score after qualifying for the 800 final to be held Sunday at 7:50 p.m. Roe ran the fourth-best time in Friday's prelims (1:50.60). Roe missed the NCAA Regional qualifying mark by .20 seconds.

Brad Dittoe qualified for his first SEC 400 hurdles final with the eighth-place time of 52.21.

The finals of the 400 hurdles will be held Sunday at 8:15 p.m.

Arkansas failed to qualify either of its three freshman sprinters in the prelims of the 200 on Friday. J-Mee Samuels was leading his heat at the 80-meter mark, but pulled up lame with a hamstring injury. Jeremy Dodson ran the 18th-fastest time and Cedric Zellner was 24th.

"I was hoping for 1 or 2 points and we would have gotten it if he wouldn't have cramped up but that's how it goes," McDonnell said.

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