Arkansas’ Lister Wins NCAA Long Jump
BOISE, Idaho (AP) _ In just his first season at Arkansas, Melvin Lister already is following in the tradition of great Razorbacks jumpers.
Just like Michael Conley, Robert Howard and Erick Walder in the past, Lister waited until his final attempt before securing the long jump title in the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships Thursday night.
``I’m happy to keep it going,″ Lister said of the Arkansas legacy.
Actually, Lister’s final jump was not his best, but it proved to be the clincher. Going into the final round, Lister and Frankie Young of Indiana State had the best jumps of the competition, each at 26 feet, 10 inches.
Young, however, was leading on the basis of a better second jump _ 26-3 1/2 to 26-3.
With the pressure on, Lister, jumping ahead of Young, leaped 26-9. Young couldn’t match it and Lister was the champion. Since 1984, the Razorbacks have won eight NCAA long jump titles, including three by Walder and two each by Conley and Howard.
Lister’s victory gave Arkansas 10 points in the quest for its eighth consecutive team title.
Lister, a junior who attended Butler County Junior College for two years before enrolling at Arkansas, will attempt a horizontal jump sweep in Saturday’s triple jump. Arkansas athletes have won 11 triple jump titles since 1984, including three each by Howard and Edrick Floreal, two apiece by Conley and Brian Wellman, and one by Walder.
Before being declared the winner, Lister had to wait for Savante Stringfellow of Mississippi to take his final three jumps. Stringfellow was disqualified after three jumps for unsportsmanlike conduct. He appealed, and the Games Committee reinstated him, ruling that Stringfellow’s second warning did not violate the unsportsmanlike conduct rule.
Lister said it was ``nervewracking″ to wait while Stringfellow finished.
``I’m glad I got the win, though,″ Lister added. ``I knew I had to get a big jump (in round six) to win.″
Thursday’s other winners were Tennessee’s Tom Pappas in the decathlon with 8,184 points, SMU’s Kajsa Bergqvist in the women’s high jump at 6-2 3/4, UCLA’s Seilalu Sua in the women’s shot put at 57-9, and Leigh Daniel of Texas Tech in the women’s 10,000 meters in 34:01.63.
Pappas led virtually throughout the decathlon competition, despite being hobbled by a tender hamstring and a bruised heel. He won four of the 10 events _ the shot put at 50-5 1/2, the high jump at 7-0 1/2, the 110 hurdles in 14.24 and the javelin at 211-4.
Kansas State’s Attila Zsivoczky also surpassed the 8,000-point barrier, finishing second with 8,129.
Bergqvist, the 1997 high jump champion, regained the title after finishing second last year. She and Dora Gyorffy of Harvard each cleared 6-2 3/4, but Bergqvist, a 1996 Swedish Olympian, won on fewer misses.
Daniel fell nearly a half-lap back early in the 10,000 when she had to stop and put her shoe back on. Gradually, she worked her way back into contention and surged into the lead with two laps remaining.
Sua’s victory enabled UCLA to finish the decade the same way it started in the women’s shot put in the championships.
She is the fourth shot put champion from UCLA during the 1990s. Tracie Millett was the Bruins’ first winner of the decade in 1990, and was followed by Dawn Dumble in 1993 and Valeyta Althouse in 1995.
Sua, also winner of the NCAA discus title the past two years, will attempt to become the event’s first three-time winner in Saturday’s final. If she wins again, Sua would complete another bookend success for the Bruins. Millett won the discus in 1990 and Dumble won in 1995.
The Bruins junior also is the collegiate leader in the discus this season with a career-best 212-4.
The multitalented Sua also qualified in the hammer throw and javelin, but decided to compete in only two events.
``Why not go for a sure 20 points for my team when I know I can win the shot put and discus?″ she said.
Meanwhile, Arkansas’ Seneca Lassiter and Washington State’s Bernard Lagat provided a preview of Saturday’s men’s 1,500-meter final. The two were paired in the same heat in Thursday’s semifinals, and Lassiter edged Lagat with a late lunge _ 3:47.92 to 3:47.96.
It didn’t necessarily matter who won because both qualified for the final, but Lassiter, the two-time defending champion, apparently wanted the psychological advantage by finishing first. Both, however, have great respect for each other.
``Saturday is not going to be easy,″ said Lagat, who beat Lassiter in the NCAA indoors and will run the 5,000 final Friday. ``I’ve got to be ready for whatever happens. He’s a great competitor.″
Said Lassiter: ``Bernard is a tough competitor. When the 1,500 rolls around, he’ll be ready.″
Florida’s Hazel Clark, winner of the 1998 title in the women’s 800, switched to the 1,500 this year, but was forced to drop out of her semifinal heat, apparently because of an ankle injury.