Samuels Highlights Strong Day For Hogs

FAYETTEVILLE — J-Mee Samuels admits he hasn't been feeling well lately. His body has felt tired, and the Arkansas sprinter wasn't sure how he'd perform Saturday afternoon on his home track.

But Samuels didn't show any signs of fatigue at the John McDonnell Invitational, proving during his impressive day that he was faster than everyone but former Arkansas track star Wallace Spearmon Jr. "I don't think it could have been any better. I'm healthy, mentally I'm prepared, so I don't think there was anything else I could do," Samuels said. "Just be patient and run fast." Despite the hot conditions at John McDonnell Field, Samuels finished second behind Spearmon in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.13 seconds. The sophomore's time was the third-fastest by a collegiate runner this year, and it was just a few steps behind Spearmon's time of 10.05 seconds. "I wasn't feeling good coming into today, but after the first 100(-meter dash), I knew I was going to have a pretty good day," Samuels said. It wasn't a coincidence that Samuels was able to keep up with Spearmon, the Fayetteville native who has emerged as a world-class sprinter for Nike. Spearmon has been a volunteer coach for the Razorbacks for the last 2-3 weeks, and Arkansas coach John McDonnell has noticed that Samuels runs faster when he competes against Spearmon. "He does not like to lose to me," Spearmon said with a smile. "He does anything possible to beat me." Later in the afternoon, Samuels had another chance to test his speed against Spearmon — this time in the 200-meter dash. But the sophomore again fell just short. Samuels took second in the event with a time of 20.63 seconds, just behind Spearmon's time of 19.87. But Samuels' times in the 100- and 200-meter dashes were good enough to qualify him for the NCAA Regionals. Before Saturday, the Razorbacks had not had a sprinter qualify for the regionals since 2005. "Sprinters are finicky in nature, so they're really dependent on good weather and good competition and not too fast of competition," said Arkansas sprints and hurdles coach Kyle White. "This was perfect — a low-key meet at our house, great weather. "I was more relieved than I was excited because (the sprinters are) finally showing what they can do." Samuels' fast times highlighted what proved to be a good day for the No. 20 Razorbacks, who have uncharacteristically struggled over the past few months. Freshman Alain Bailey helped get things started Saturday by winning the men's long jump with a leap of 25-03.25. Teammate Daniel Quinn, a sophomore, took third place with a jump of a 25-00.75 feet. Overall, Arkansas posted 10 marks that either qualified for the NCAA Regionals, or improved on previous qualifying marks. That includes three marks in the long jump and two for Samuels. "(We) could have done a little bit better, but I'm happy," McDonnell said. "Key people (are) stepping up, especially J-Mee Samuels. "He's a guy that could mean a lot to us in a national meet, and I hope he has found the key that has been in the grass. So he opened the door today."

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