Duke Shines for Razorbacks on First Day

FAYETTEVILLE – Not much went right for John McDonnell’s Razorbacks Friday night.Even Wallace Spearmon, the ex-Razorback running a world’s best 200-meter dash, was disappointed at Friday night’s Razorback Indoor Invitational track meet that concludes from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. today at the Randal Tyson Indoor Track Center.The former Razorback reigning NCAA Indoor and Outdoor 200-meter dash champion who turned professional for Nike last summer after just two University of Arkansas indoor and outdoor track seasons, Spearmon clocked 20.57 in Friday night’s 200 meters for his 2006 debut.It’s the fastest 200 in the world this young indoor season but slower than the Fayetteville native ran this time last year for Arkansas.“Good thing I wasn’t racing myself from last year,” Spearmon said, “it would be a bad deal. I ran 20.36 this race last year, but my training is different.”Professionals use the indoor winter season mainly to train for the long summer European outdoor circuit and seldom peak for specific indoors races like collegians do.“We started training later,” Spearmon said. “So I am not as far along as I was last year. It’s still a good race. Coach Brauman predicted it.”Razorback sprints coach Lance Brauman continues to train Spearmon.The current Razorbacks aren’t supposed to peak this early either, but McDonnell expects more than they showed Friday night.“There were no bright spots,” McDonnell said.He did amend that for Jimmy Duke’s first day performance in the two-day heptathlon but the amendment took awhile.McDonnell was interviewed on the heels of a distance medley relay team, with NCAA Indoor All-American Adam Perkins leading off the 1,200-meter leg and NCAA Cross Country All-American running the anchor mile, running a disappointing fourth in 9:59.76 some 16 seconds behind winner Illinois, 9:43.04.“That wasn’t our best team,” McDonnell said of the quartet that had Brian Roe on the 800 and David Wittenmeyer on the 400. “But I thought Perkins and Rodrigues would run a little bit better. They were the guys coming around but they haven’t come around yet. Back to the drawing board.”With 2,766 points for Friday’s heptathlon 60-meter dash, long jump, shot put and high jump, Duke’s current 2,766 points are on line to qualify provisionally for the NCAA Men’s Indoor Championships if he concludes well in today’s heptathlon 60-meter hurdles, pole vault and 1,000-meter.Duke stands second in this meet’s 8-man heptathlon field led by ex-collegian Boris Rolsov competing unattached. He had a personal record 6-2 1-4 in the hep high jump.“I guarantee you one thing,” McDonnell said of Duke, “he will compete. He’s down here working, not goofing off.”After the last running event, Arkansas’ Gregg Martin won Friday night’s high jump clearing 6-11 1/2 but failed to clear the 7-1 1/2 NCAA Indoor provisional qualifying height.“ We’re trying to do some new things," Arkansas field events coach Dick Booth said, "but he’s got to get comfortable. He needs to get qualified for Nationals.”Baylor’s Jacob Norman, 21.34 for second, was the fastest among Friday night’s 200-meter dash collegians here. Freshman Jeremy Dodson, sixth in 21.81, ran the fastest of the Razorback entrants.Brauman’s latest prized pupil, freshman J-Mee Samuels, the 2005 national prep champion from Winston-Salem, N.C., debuts in today’s 60-meter dash. The men’s 60-meter dash prelims are at 2:45 p.m. and the final at 4 p.m.Razorback football player-track sprinter Michael Grant, the lone returnee from Arkansas’ NCAA Outdoor champion 4 x100 relay, also runs today’s 60-meter dash.“Tomorrow will be a better day,” McDonnell said Friday citing today’s 60-meter dash, the 800 with All-American Said Ahmed and the mile with All-Americans Josphat Boit, Peter Kosgei and freshman Michael Barnicle.