Kalmer Wins 5K, Hogs Finish Third
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Arkansas Razorback women’s track and field finished third at the SEC Championships in Lexington, Ky. on Sunday. The Hogs picked up an event win and three runner-up finishes on the final day of competition.
Tennessee won the team title with 111 points, LSU was second with 105 points and Arkansas rounded out the top three with 97 points.
“We really turned it around today and picked up some major points,” head coach Lance Harter said. “The 5,000 meters and the relays were great events for us. That was a huge breakthrough for Christine (Kalmer) to win the 5,000 meters. Our relays did a great job of picking up points, especially our 4x400-meter relay. They clocked the second-fastest time in the nation and were anchored by a great freshman in Whitney Jones.”
Arkansas picked up a 1-2-3 finish in the 5,000 meters, good for 24 points. Senior Christine Kalmer led the Hogs with her race win. She clocked a personal-best time of 16:20.06 to break the Nutter Field House record, earn her second All-SEC honor and improve her NCAA qualifying time.
“This is the first time in four years that I have won,” Kalmer said. “Every time I would come so close, but this time, when I least expected it, it happened. I couldn’t ask for anything else. We picked up some much needed points too.”
Senior Denise Bargiachi was second across the line in the 5,000 meters. She clocked a 16:23.90 to earn her third All-SEC honor. Catherine White finished third with a time of 16:38.07.
The Razorbacks have a long and storied history in all the distance races at the SEC Championships but that history pales in comparison to the 5,000 meters where Arkansas has won 14 of the last 18 titles. Arkansas’ longest stretch of 5,000-meter titles was six straight between 1992 and 1997 and, before Kalmer’s victory, its most recent title came in 2008 from Bargiachi.
Arkansas ended the weekend with two runner-up finishes in the relays. The distance medley relay clocked a time of 11:37.70 while the 4x400-meter relay clocked a time of 3:35.18. Arkansas’ 4x400-meter relay clocked the nation’s second-fastest time in the event, a season best and an improved NCAA qualifier.
On the 4x400-meter relay, Karen Thomas (53.7), Shelise Williams (52.6), Janine Davis (54.4) and Whitney Jones (53.6) combined for the 3:35.18. On the DMR, Lauren Lewis (1,200 meters, 3:39), Courtenay Brown (400 meters, 55.0), Samantha Learch (800 meters, 2:09) and Jillian Rosen (mile, 4:51) combined for the 11:37.70.
Other scorers for the Hogs include Jones in the 200 meters (seventh, 24.03), Williams in the 400 meters (fourth, 53.52), Davis in the 800 meters (seventh, 2:09.30) and Rosen in the mile (sixth, 4:47.46). Williams’ time in the 400 meters is a personal best and an improved NCAA qualifier.
Arkansas Track Wins SEC Championship
Propelled by four individual and relay titles, Arkansas Razorback men’s track and field won the 2009 SEC Indoor Championship in Lexington, Ky. on Sunday.
The championship win is Arkansas’ 92nd overall (cross country, indoor and outdoor), 28th conference (SWC and SEC) indoor title and 16th SEC indoor title. Arkansas took the title with 130 points. Florida finished second with 102 points and Tennessee was third with 78 points.
“What an incredible win for this team,” head coach Chris Bucknam said. “I couldn’t be more proud. We had guys pull through today and it was incredible to see everyone step to the line and get the job done. J-Mee Samuels really got us started today with his runner-up finish in the 60. Alex McClary had a great meet and he really took this team on his back. He won the 800 meters and had a great 800-meter leg on the DMR. I can’t say enough good things about these guys right now.”
Arkansas’ day started when J-Mee Samuels hit the line for the 60-meter finals. He had a near-perfect start and wowed the crowd with a runner-up finish and got the ball rolling for his teammates. His time of 6.63 replaces his previous school record and automatically qualifies him for the NCAA Championships.
Arkansas’ next event, the mile run, stunned again when the Hogs took first, second, fourth and eighth, good for 24 points. Junior Dorian Ulrey won his second SEC title of the weekend with a winning time of 3:59.77. Ulrey’s mile win is the 10th SEC mile title for Arkansas.
Sophomore Duncan Phillips earned a runner-up finish and his first All-SEC honor with a time of 4:01.30. Sophomore Michael Chinchar finished fourth (4:03.52) and freshman Rick Elliott was eighth (4:08.33). Phillips, Chinchar and Elliott clocked personal bests while Phillips and Chinchar also hit NCAA provisional times.
The 5,000 meters produced 12 points for Arkansas as seniors Shawn Forrest and James Strang finished second and fifth, respectively. Forrest, earning his second All-SEC honor of the weekend and the seventh of his career, clocked a time of 13:46.26. Strang ran a time of 14:05.04, good for an NCAA provisional mark.
Alex McClary ran his first great race of the weekend in the 800-meter finals. Jockeying for good position, McClary made his move just before the final turn and out-kicked the pack to take the tape. He clocked a time of 1:49.37 to win Arkansas’ fifth SEC 800-meter title.
“It was a little bit nerve-wracking going into the race but I knew I needed to step up for the team because not everything always goes perfectly,” McClary said. “I don’t know if I was supposed to win but I knew I needed to do the best for my team. I stayed at the front and brought it home in the end.”
The 200 meters produced 12 points as freshman Marek Niit and Samuels finished second and fifth, respectively. Niit clocked a time of 20.90 and Samuels a 20.98. Both improved their NCAA times and Niit’s time is the sixth-fastest in school history.
After a runner-up finish in the mile, Phillips anchored the distance medley relay to a triumphant win. Chinchar (1,200 meters, 3:01), freshman Jake Stephens (400 meters, 47.7), McClary (800 meters, 1:50.5) and Phillips (mile, 4:08) combined for a time of 9:47.31. The quartet earned 10 points and gave the Hogs a 127-92 lead over Florida going into the final event of the day, the 4x400-meter relay.
Arkansas ended on a high note as the mile relay picked up a sixth-place finish. Freshman Ben Skidmore (47.68), freshman Travis Nollsch (48.19), Niit (47.19) and sophomore Chris Bilbrew (46.72) combined for a time of 3:10.18.
The triple jump was the one disappointing event of the day for Arkansas. Most schools would be thrilled with a second- and third-place finishes but senior Nkosinza Balumbu lost his first SEC triple jump title since the 2006 SEC Indoor Championships when he also finished second. His best mark of the day, 52-1.25, earned his seventh All-SEC honor and a runner-up finish. Freshman Tarik Batchelor finished third in the event with a jump of 50-2.75.
The Razorbacks have won a combined 92 conference crowns (41 cross country, 28 indoor and 23 outdoor). Since the Hogs joined the SEC in time for the 1991-92 season, Arkansas has won 47 of 53 league championships in the three sports. The Hogs have captured 17 of 18 cross country titles, 16 of 18 indoor crowns and 14 of 17 outdoor championships in that time span. The Razorbacks have won the last five SEC Indoor team titles and 12 of the last 13 including a seven-season streak (1997-2003).
Since joining the SEC for the 1992 championships, Arkansas has won 14 of 18 5,000-meter races, 11 of 18 3,000-meter runs, nine of 18 mile runs and 10 of 18 triple jump competitions. Additionally, the Hogs have brought home 12 of 16 distance medley relays contested since the event was added to the conference meet in 1994.
For complete results, visit Arkansas Razorbacks.com. The 2009 SEC Indoor Championships show will air on FSN on Sun., March 8 at 2:30 p.m. (CST).