FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas Razorback men’s track and field picked up three new NCAA provisional qualifiers on day two of the Tyson Invitational on Saturday.
"We had a really solid day of competition," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "Our guys rebounded well after a pretty late night of competing on Friday. It was great to see Chris Bilbrew and Duncan Phillips race they way they did in the 800 meters. They had a great competitive spirit. What an exciting way to end a great meet with the 4×400-meter relay. We are running three freshmen and a sophomore and they are getting better every week."
Sophomore Chris Bilbrew had an exciting weekend of competition. He clocked a 46.93 as the second leg of the 4×400-meter relay on Friday night, a 1:49.90 in the open 800 meters on Saturday and ended the weekend with a 46.76 on Arkansas’ winning 4×400-meter relay.
Bilbrew’s 800-meter time of 1:49.90 won the event, is an NCAA provisional qualifier, is a personal best and ranks fourth in the SEC and 12th in the NCAA.
Also in the 800 meters, sophomore Duncan Phillips clocked a 1:49.92 to finish second. His time is also a personal best and an NCAA provisional qualifier. He currently ranks fifth in the SEC and 13th in the NCAA.
Certainly the highlight of the day was the Razorback 4×400-meter relay winning the final running event of the Tyson Invitational and picking up an NCAA provisional qualifier.
"I’m really pleased with the way this relay is coming together," assistant coach Doug Case said. "They are a really young group with three true freshmen and a true sophomore and it’s exciting to see them improve almost weekly. I think we can run faster when we clean up a few things. We are just getting started."
Freshman Marek Niit (47.53), Bilbrew (46.76), freshman Travis Nollsch (47.71) and freshman Ben Skidmore (47.50) combined for a time of 3:09.49. The quartet currently ranks fourth in the SEC and sixth in the NCAA. The provisional qualifier is the first for Arkansas in the 4×400-meter relay since the 2005 season.
"We just started working on speed this week and it’s starting to come together," Skidmore said. "All the things we have been working for, all the puzzle pieces are falling into place. We had a pretty rough day yesterday and we were all tired today but it all happened the way it should. We had Marek (Niit) on the first leg and he usually doesn’t run it. He came out, ran hard and did his job, and we all took care of business."
The Razorbacks will compete next at the SEC Indoor Championships, Feb. 27 – March 1, at the University of Kentucky. For complete results and more information on Arkansas track and field, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.