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Spearmon clocks world's best time
Former University of Arkansas sprinter Wallace Spearmon, running unattached, crosses the finish line to take first place with a time of 20.68 in the men's 200 meter run during the Arkansas Invitational indoor track meet Friday afternoon at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Wallace Spearmon Jr. is coming off an Achilles injury that slowed him a year ago, but you wouldn't have known it watching him run Friday.
Spearmon, the former Razorbacks all-American and four-time World Championships medalist from Fayetteville, returned to his home track to run the 200-meter dash in 20.68 seconds - the fastest time in the world so far in 2014.
"I definitely surprised myself," Spearmon said. "I didn't know how fast I was ready to run."
Spearmon ran in the final of five heats for the event. In the fourth heat Tulsa sprinter Bryce Robinson ran the 200 in 20.94 seconds, which is the second-fastest time in the world this season and the top time in the NCAA.
After watching Robinson's race and a large ovation from the hometown crowd, Spearmon said he knew the pressure was on to perform well.
"You definitely don't want to lose to a college kid when you're a little older," said Spearmon, who set the U.S. indoor record in the 200 meters when he ran it in 20.10 seconds at the 2005 NCAA Indoor Championships also held at the Tyson Track Center. "He ran a great time and has a bright future.
"No one likes to lose at home. I've been running on this track since it was built. If they had the Olympics in Arkansas I guarantee you I'd win."
Spearmon has been training with Arkansas women's assistant Chris Johnson and Razorbacks' men's basketball strength coach David Deets since his Achilles injury. He plans to run again in Fayetteville at the Tyson Invitational in February.
"Last year was a terrible year for me," Spearmon said. "I'm just back home and it seems like everyone really cares about me; very genuine. Everybody wants me to run fast and I'm feeding off it."
Spearmon's performance wasn't the only that had people talking Friday at the Razorback Invitational. Arkansas women's sprinter Regine Williams ran the 200 meters in 23.37 seconds, just ahead of American sprinter Joanna Atkins, who won the 2009 NCAA title indoors in the event while at Auburn.
Williams' time was the fastest in the world indoors this year.
"It was a shock to me since I'm a freshman and this was my first college meet," Williams said. "I surprised myself. I knew I could run fast but I didn't know I could run that fast."
Regine Williams' time was one of three for the Razorbacks' women that currently leads the NCAA. Chrishuna Williams ran the 400 meters in 53.52 seconds and Dominique Scott ran the 800 meters in 2:02.10.
Atkins, who finished fourth in the 400 meters at last year's World Championships, finished first in the 400 Friday with a time of 52.56 seconds.
"Chrishuna has always been one of those who has been overshadowed by Regina George and Sparkle McKnight," Arkansas coach Lance Harter said. "This year she's carrying the spotlight. That was a heck of an opener. You're running against a former national champion and she just went in there and said, 'Hey, I don't care,' and obviously had a great time."
Freshman Omar McLeod had the best day for the Arkansas men, winning the 60-meter dash and 60 hurdles with times of 6.73 seconds and 7.82 seconds, respectively. Razorbacks coach Chris Bucknam called McLeod, a Jamaican native, a "five-star recruit" for his team.
Arkansas' men and women will host Texas in a dual meet next Friday.