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Courtesy: Walt Beazley
Patrick Rono is ranked No. 1 in the SEC and No. 10 in the NCAA at 800 meters.
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No. 1 Razorbacks host Tyson Invitational

02/07/2013
Zach Lawson, Athletic Media Relations
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FAYETTEVILLE – In its final meet before the postseason, the top-ranked University of Arkansas men’s track and field team will play host to the Tyson Invitational this weekend in Fayetteville. The two-day competition will be held Feb. 8-9 at the Randal Tyson Track Center. More than 40 colleges and universities will be represented at the Tyson Invitational, including seven men’s teams ranked in this week’s national poll.

Friday’s schedule will be split into an afternoon and evening session with start times of noon (CT) and 6 p.m., respectively. On Saturday, field events begin at 11 a.m. while running events are slated for a 1 p.m. start. General admission tickets for home meets are $5. Fans 17 years and younger are admitted free and University of Arkansas students get in free with their valid student ID. Doors at the Randal Tyson Track Center open one hour prior to the start of competition.

“This weekend is very important for us,” head coach Chris Bucknam said. “This indoor season is short and everything is based on the best times and distance with the top 16 advancing to the national championships. We’re all constantly looking at that national list and working to get qualifiers into that meet for us. This is a big meet for us.”

Along with No. 1 Arkansas, this weekend’s field at the Tyson Invitational will feature seven teams ranked in this week’s USTFCCCA Top 25. That list includes No. 4 Oregon, No. 6 LSU, No. 11 Texas, No. 12 Mississippi State, No. 17 Florida State and No. 23 Oklahoma. Fellow SEC teams Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina and Tennessee are also scheduled to compete in Fayetteville this weekend.

Individually, the field will include eight—three men, five women—NCAA champions from the 2012 season. Razorback sophomore Andrew Irwin is the defending national indoor champion and is set to compete against defending national outdoor champion Jack Whitt of Oral Roberts. Reigning NCAA cross country champion Kennedy Kithuka of Texas Tech is scheduled to run 3,000 meters Saturday.

Overall, the deep field of competitors at the Tyson Invitational will include a total of 29 men’s and women’s top-three NCAA performers from last year. That list includes Razorbacks’ Akheem Gauntlett, Raymond Higgs and Kevin Lazas. Gauntlett was the 2012 national indoor runner-up at 200 meters while Higgs and Lazas each had third-place NCAA results last year.

The Razorbacks will also send a portion of its distance crew to Seattle, Wash., to compete in the Husky Classic this weekend. Arkansas is scheduled to have Kemoy Campbell, David Flynn, Solomon Haile, Stanley Kebenei and Layne Nixon run with a concentration on the 3,000- and 5,000-meter races.

Entering the weekend, Arkansas owns a pair of NCAA-leading performances with Higgs in the long jump (7.95m/26-1) and Lazas in the heptathlon (6,042 points). The Razorbacks also have the top SEC marks from Patrick Rono at 800 meters (1:48.98), Kebenei at 3,000 meters (8:00.74), Tarik Batchelor in the triple jump (16.37m/53-8.5) and in the distance-medley relay (9:35.50).

In their last outing, the Razorbacks posted five top-three championship finishes at the Armory Collegiate Invitational in New York. Arkansas finished fifth in the team standings with 41 points accumulated over the two-day meet. The team’s efforts were paced by a victory from Tomas Squella at 800 meters. Arkansas also had a runner-up result from Jarrion Lawson in the long jump and third-place finishes from Caleb Cross in the 60-meter hurdles and its 4x400-meter and distance-medley relays.

Fans can also follow this weekend’s Tyson Invitational with live results from Flash Results and Arkansas’ interactive blog and RazorVision video stream. The meet will be identified on Twitter with the hash tag of #TysonInv.

For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com. Fans can also keep up with Arkansas cross country and track and field through the team’s sport-specific RazorbackTF Facebook and Twitter pages.

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