Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
NCAA West Preliminaries:
Arkansas’ McLeod clears head, hurdles in
Arkansas hurdler Omar McLeod clears the final hurdle in front of David Kendziera from Illinois and James Douglas from UC Irvine during the men's 110 meter hurdles Friday at the 2014 NCAA Track & Field West Preliminaries at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- It was a smooth ride for Arkansas freshman Omar McLeod in the 110-meter hurdles Friday at the NCAA West Preliminaries after a rough 400 hurdles Thursday.
McLeod, who won the 60 hurdles at the NCAA Indoor meet, won his heat Friday in 13.69 seconds to automatically advance to tonight's quarterfinals. The top finishers tonight advance to the NCAA Championships on June 11-14 in Eugene, Ore.
McLeod had hoped to advance in the 400 hurdles as well, but he finished 23rd in Thursday's first round.
He woke up Friday and said he felt somewhat nervous about the 110 hurdles.
"I'm like, 'Oh, Lord, it's Arkansas and the team needs the points,' " said McLeod, who is from Jamaica. "But I know my capability."
McLeod shot to the lead and didn't hit a hurdle.
Arkansas Coach Chris Bucknam praised McLeod for his ability to bounce back from Thursday's performance.
"That's what's great about these young kids," Bucknam said. "They can put it behind them faster than the coaches can."
McLeod sustained a hamstring injury early in the outdoor season that cost him training time, so his conditioning was an issue with the 400 hurdles.
"The shorter race, the conditioning doesn't play as much into the mix as the longer race," Bucknam said. "He's in his element in the 110s. He looks comfortable, and hopefully we can get him through the rounds."
McLeod said he was eager to compete Friday after what happened Thursday.
"I'm a fighter," he said. "I know in track and field mishaps come. Everything's not going to go your way. You just have to know how to overcome those mishaps."
McLeod is scheduled to run legs on Arkansas' 400 and 1,600 relays tonight, in addition to the 110 hurdle quarterfinals.
"I think I need it to get back in race shape," McLeod said.
McLeod said he didn't let winning an NCAA title indoors go to his head.
"It's my responsibility to remain humble and stay focused," he said. "I didn't get complacent. I know indoors isn't the end for me."
Two Razorbacks advanced in the high jump as freshman Ken LeGassey cleared 7 feet, 1 inch and senior Noah Kittelson took 12th, clearing 6-11 1/2. LeGassey finished second based on more misses. Kittleson earned the last qualifying spot for nationals.
Arkansas senior Anthony May, who was fourth the high jump at the NCAA Outdoors last year, was 16th, clearing 6-11 1/2. He missed three attempts at 7-1.
May qualified for nationals in the long jump Thursday night and will compete in the triple jump tonight.
Arkansas juniors Patrick Rono (1:48.90) and Tomas Squella (1:49.10) both advanced in the 800. Rono was third and Squella 12th.
In women's competition Friday night, Arkansas junior Tamara Myers advanced in the triple jump, taking fourth with a leap of 42-8 1/2. She advanced in the long jump Thursday.
"She's done a nice double," Arkansas Coach Lance Harter said. "She lived up to everyone's expectations."
Razorbacks freshman Taylor Ellis-Watson advanced to nationals in the 400, running 53.02. Freshman Regine Williams ran 23.46 in the 200 to advance to tonight's quarterfinals. Williams didn't advance in the 100, where she ran 11.69 to take 17th.
Arkansas senior Chrishuna Williams didn't advance in the 400, taking 15th in 53.45.
Sports on 05/31/2014