Sacrifice and success have made the Arkansas Razorbacks the most dominant track and field program in the nation.
The Razorbacks didn’t have an individual winner, but coach John McDonnell liked his team’s chances for extending its record streak of NCAA indoor championships to 12 after the opening night of the two-day NCAA Division I men’s and women’s track and field championships.
“We have more points than I thought we’d have,” McDonnell said of the 30 points his team had after Friday’s five events. “I thought we’d have 16-to-20. And we qualified everybody for the finals that we anticipated… . Our guys just have to compete. We’re in good shape.”
UCLA was second with 22 points on the strength of placing first, second and fifth in the shot put. John Godina won the event with an effort of 66 feet, 11 1/4 inches on his first effort.
One of the Razorbacks advancing to the finals was Jason Bunston, who passed up defending his 5,000-meter championship in an attempt to help the Razorbacks.
Bunston ran the 3,000 and advanced to today’s final in 8 minutes, 10.04 seconds - the ninth fastest qualifying time in the event.
Zimbabwe’s Godfrey Siamusiye, a junior college transfer, was the only Arkansas entry in the 5,000 and he finished second to Ireland’s Mark Carroll, representing Providence. Carroll won in 13:55.15 with Siamusiye finishing in 13:58.99.
“Godfrey is really gunning for the 5K, so we figured OK, I’ll concentrate on the 3,000. I could have done either,” Bunston said before Friday’s final.
“We didn’t want to run both in the 5K,” McDonnell said. “We’ll see (today) if the decision works out.”
The decision meant Bunston didn’t race Carroll.
“We’re thinking points and titles. I wanted the 5K because I wanted to defend the title and race Carroll. But, if I’m going to race him, I want to be in shape,” said Bunston, who has been bothered by colds and a knee problem.
Bunston said it’s no secret why McDonnell’s program put together a streak of nine consecutive NCAA indoor, outdoor and cross country championships that ended in last fall’s cross country meet.
“Interest, focus,” he said. “We have a coach who’s up until about 4 in the morning. He’s honest, he works hard and has consistency.”
DePaul’s Dave Dopek gave the Blue Demons their first NCAA champion in any sport with a 20.78 effort in the 200. Other individual men’s champions were Phillip Riley of Florida State, 7.10 in the 55 high hurdles; Kareem S.-Thompson of Rice, 26-4 1/4 in the long jump; and Petar Malesev of Nebraska, 7-4 1/4.
University of Idaho sophomore Niels Kruller failed to reach the long jump finals. He placed 10th in the preliminaries with a leap of 24-6 1/4.
While Arkansas is expected to extend its streak, the battle for the women’s title is being hotly contested with Louisiana State seeking its third consecutive title and its sixth since 1987.
Texas leads with 18 points, followed by Miami at 12. The defending champs have 11.
In the first women’s final, junior Jennifer Rhines of Villanova lowered the 5,000 record to 15:41.12 by more than 7 seconds. The Big East champion lowered the NCAA mark of 15:48.17 set by Kentucky’s Valerie McGovern in 1990, with Big East runner-up Marie McMahon of Providence taking second in 15:44.53.
Rogers High School graduate Jessica Fry of Alabama finished fourth with a time of 16:06.
Miami’s strong showing was helped by a first by Gillian Russell in the high hurdles with a personal best of 7.49.
Other women’s championships decided included Merlene Frazer of Texas, the 1994 outdoor champ at 200, who won the indoor title in 23.14; and Diane Guthrie-Gresh of George Mason, who went 21-8 1/4 in the long jump.
Eastern Washington’s Joyce Rainwater failed to reach the 200-meter finals.
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