NCAA West Prelims:

Rono rolls for Arkansas

By: Bob Holt
Published: Saturday, May 31, 2014
Arkansas runner Patrick Rono leads the pack in the men's 800 meter run Thursday during the 2014 NCAA Track & Field West Preliminary meet at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville.
Photo by Michael Woods
Arkansas runner Patrick Rono leads the pack in the men's 800 meter run Thursday during the 2014 NCAA Track & Field West Preliminary meet at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville.

— Arkansas junior Patrick Rono won his heat of the 800 and was third overall in 1:47.50 to advance to nationals.

He pushed the pace on the final lap.

“Yesterday was more conserve and today was more all-out, do it for the home crowd,” Rono said. “I’ve got plenty of time until nationals to recover, and it’s the last time I will be running here this season. So why not go all out?”

Arkansas junior Tomas Squella also advanced in the 800, taking 12th in 1:49.10.

No Tomatoes

Arkansas has a longstanding policy of not competing against Arkansas State, but an NCAA meet sometimes brings the teams together as it has this weekend.

“No one’s throwing tomatoes at us, so it’s fun to be here,” Arkansas State Coach Jim Patchell said with a laugh. “Track is one sport where we can compete with each other.”

Patchell was a sprinter at Arkansas State and had a stint as a volunteer assistant at Arkansas, coaching the pole vaulters and multi-event athletes. Arkansas assistant Doug Case coached him at Arkansas State.

“I’m great friends with Doug Case, and I have a good relationship with all of the Arkansas coaches,” Patchell said. “I’d love to compete in a meet with Arkansas, and I don’t think their coaches would mind, but we don’t make those decisions.”

Hammer time

Arkansas State senior Chris Nicasio finished seventh in the hammer Friday, throwing 205 feet, 4 inches to advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the first time.

He has competed at the NCAA Prelims four years.

“The fourth try was the charm for Chris,” Red Wolves Coach Jim Patchell said. “He was thrilled, and I’m thrilled for him.

Just missed it

Arkansas senior Neil Braddy took 13th in the 400 — one spot out of advancing to the NCAA Championships.

Braddy ran 46.43 with Houston senior Erroll Nolan taking 12th in 46.26.

Braddy will run on the 400 and 1,600 relays tonight.

Anybody see A-Rod?

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, suspended this season for using performance-enhancing drugs, spent some of his free time in Fayetteville on Friday on the Arkansas campus.

Rodriguez knows a Texas A&M team doctor who is in town for the NCAA West Prelims being held at John McDonnell Field and was here to visit him.

Rodriguez wasn’t seen at the track meet, but he was in Arkansas’ football operations building where quality control assistant coach Mike Conrad tweeted a picture of himself with Rodriguez.

Arkansas Coach Chris Bucknam, a Beverly, Mass., native and a Boston Red Sox fan, said he didn’t know Rodriguez was in town.

“That’s not a big deal to me,” Buckman said. “He’s a Yankee.”

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