Arkansas men fall short of expectations; UA women solid

By: MARK MALONEY
Published: Saturday, May 17, 2014
Dominique Scott won the 10,000-meter race at the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships Friday in Lexington, Ky.
Dominique Scott won the 10,000-meter race at the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships Friday in Lexington, Ky.

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Things went just fine for the Arkansas women on the second day of the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Not so much for the Arkansas men at the UK Track and Field Complex.

“We had kind of a roller-coaster day,” Arkansas men’s Coach Chris Bucknam said.

The Hogs have 14 points and are fourth in the team standings after three events, trailing No. 7 Georgia (48), which went 1-2 in the decathlon.

The Razorbacks, who have won 18 of the past 22 SEC Outdoor titles, earned points from Nathanael Franks, who took third in the decathlon, and from sophomore Gabe Gonzaeles, who finished second in the 10,000 meters

Bucknam had projected a few more points and fewer mishaps on Friday heading into the weekend, but two days of competition remain.

“You fight adversity,” Bucknam said. “This is a meat-grinder type of meet, and everybody’s fighting hard and have the same issues we have. So we’re down a few points. We had Florida down a few points from what we thought they were going to get. So a big day tomorrow and hopefully we can make up some points.”

An injury to Solomon Haile, who had to drop out of the 10,000 meters, and out-of-points finishes by Brad Culp (12th) and Lane Austell (13th) in the decathlon, hurt the Razorbacks. So did freshman Omar McLeod’s stumble in a qualifying heat for the 400-meter hurdles.

McLeod, the NCAA champion indoors in the 60-meter hurdles, led his heat until hitting the final barrier and tumbling to the track. Teammate Larry Donald took down the ninth and final qualifying spot in 54.05.

Thomas Squella and Patrick Rono advanced in the 800 meters.

“We have some work to do,” Bucknam said. “That’s not unusual for that to happen. We just have to battle back and compete on Saturday.”

It was a better story for the Arkansas women, who are trying for the first outdoor conference title since 2004. The fifth-ranked Georgia women lead with 32 points, followed by Arkansas with 23 and No. 6 Kentucky with 13.

“We did everything we possibly could today,” UA women’s coach Lance Harter said. “We’re right on schedule.”

The highlight came in the 10,000 meters, where Dominique Scott and Diane Robison finished 1-3.

“They followed the race plan perfectly,” Harter said.

Scott’s mother, Renee, flew in from South Africa to watch her daughter.

“This is the first time that she got to see me ever race as a Razorback, so it’s a very special evening for us,” said Scott, a sophomore. “I wasn’t so much nervous, but I definitely did want to have a good race for her.”

The Razorbacks picked up seven points in the heptathlon, with sophomore Alex Gochenour placing third and freshman Leigha Brown taking eighth.

Second-seeded Stephanie Brown advanced in the 800-meter preliminaries, finishing second in her heat and sixth overall in 2:08.08.

Franks (7,188) placed third in the decathlon by recording personal bests in three of five events Friday.

Georgia’s Maicel Uibo (7,863 points) and Garrett Scantling (7,675) went 1-2.

“Definitely I had some ups and downs,” Franks said.

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