UI men strut relay stuff

   INDIANAPOLIS  Running the second-fastest time in school history, the University of Illinois men''s distance medley relay team placed fifth Saturday night in the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships at the RCA Dome.

   The team of Barry Pearman, Dorian Green, Bobby True and Cortney Lamb finished in 9 minutes, 36.35 seconds to earn All-America honors. The time was 0.02 second off the UI record set in 1995, when Dutch Olympian Marko Koers was a member of the unit.

   Illinois'' time also was the second-fastest ever by an entirely American squad and broke the previous such record of 9:37.31 set by Arkansas last March. Georgetown, which placed third Saturday night in 9:35.83, is the new record-holder.

   "I am really thrilled with the way everyone ran tonight," UI coach Gary Wieneke said. "It was a very competitive race, and each of our runners held their own. I''m extremely proud that we ran under the previous American record."

   George Mason won the race in 9:32.27, followed by Washington State (9:34.03), Georgetown and Michigan (9:36.05).

   Pearman ran the opening 1,200-meter leg in 2:57.48 for Illinois. Green ran the 400-meter leg in 46.86, followed by True (1:49.34 in the 800) and Lamb (4:02.67 in the 1,600).

   Illinois'' only other entrant, freshman Babatunde Ridley, placed ninth in the long jump on Friday.

   He also earned All-America honors.

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