With eight events remaining, the Razor-backs stood fifth and seemed in danger of falling apart. Their 23 points placed them far behind Stanford's 50. Even worse, both Lister and Lavar Miller injured themselves in the triple jump. Miller hobbled over to the high jump, but he was shut out there, too. Lister, whom many expected to win the triple jump, finished fifth (53'9�"). Counting on 12 points, Arkansas got four.
Another Razorback expected to win was two-time defending 1,500 champion Seneca Lassiter, who is perhaps America's best young hope in the mile. He grabbed the lead with two laps to go but lost it in the homestretch and could not quite catch Clyde Colenso of South Africa and Southern Methodist, who beat him by .13 in 3:47.54.
Over the years Arkansas has shown an amazing knack for conjuring up points when it has needed them most. "We have a saying," says McDonnell. "If someone falls down, somebody else has to stand up." An example of the Razorbacks' gift for improvisation is senior Matt Kerr, the defending champ in the steeplechase. Kerr came to Arkansas as a hotshot high school miler, with a superb 1,500 best of 3:43. But he failed to improve and was contemplating quitting the sport when, as he puts it, he "stumbled on the steeple" while messing around in practice one day. In his first steeplechase Kerr won the Southeastern Conference title. In Boise his commanding 8:44.29 win brought the Razorbacks to within three points of Stanford.
Standing all the way up to his massive 6'8", 345-pound size was junior shot-putter Marcus Clavelle, from whom no points were expected. Just competing was a miracle for Clavelle, who during football practice last summer took a hit on the back of his neck that left him paralyzed from the neck down for 9� hours. In Boise he shrugged off the pressure and tossed the shot 63'2�", a personal best, earning the very four points Arkansas needed to pass the Cardinal for good.
"I was a little nervous, yes," allowed McDonnell when the final score had been tallied: Arkansas 59, Stanford 52.
McDonnell can now look forward to a summer vacation of a kind, splitting his time between the Razorbacks' track office and the 2,200-acre cattle ranch he owns in Colcord, Okla., about 33 miles from Fayetteville. "We use actual cowboys, who tell great stories," says McDonnell. "I love seeing kids who can throw a lasso around a calf at full speed. It's an art, though perhaps a dying art in this country."
So, too, it seems, is the art of taming McDonnell's Razorbacks. Who can recall how it's done?