– The No. 1 University of Arkansas men’s track and field team racked up a collection of potential NCAA qualifiers Friday between action at the Arkansas Final Qualifier and Alex Wilson Invitational in South Bend, Ind. In a breakout performance at 800 meters, senior Leoman Momoh
ran an NCAA-leading time of 1:46.07 to pace the Razorbacks’ last-effort qualifying opportunities.
“We had a really good night of performance here and at Notre Dame,” assistant coach Doug Case
said. “Dealing with some injuries and sickness throughout the season, we were a bit behind so we knew these kinds of results were coming. With the NCAA meet next weekend, it’s definitely the right time of the season for these big performances.”
Entering the day with a season-best time of 1:50.21, Momoh knocked more than four seconds off that to put his name atop the NCAA Division I Indoor Qualifying List at 800 meters. He wasn’t ranked within the nation’s top 50 before Friday’s performance. Freshman teammate Tomas Squella
was right behind him in second place with a personal-best time of 1:46.76, the No. 3 time in the NCAA this season. With Friday’s race, Momoh and Squella became the No. 2 and 3 performers in school history, respectively.
put himself into position to qualify for the NCAA Championships with his performance at 400 meters. He entered the weekend with a season-best time of 47.21 but knocked nearly a second off that with his latest mark of 46.35 to finish second overall in Friday’s race. Teammate Akheem Gauntlett
set a personal best of 46.14 to win the event, improving his position within the national top 10.
Gauntlett and Niit were back on the track for the 200 meters and posted a pair of top-10 national performances. With Friday’s win, Gauntlett lowered his season-best time from 20.84 to 20.73 to move into fourth place on the season’s NCAA performance list. Niit finished second with his showing of 20.76 which elevated the Razorback senior to No. 6 among sprinters this year. His previous season-best time of 20.12 came last weekend at the SEC Championships.
At the Alex Wilson Invitational in South Bend, Ind., the Razorbacks’ distance-medley relay team of Patrick Rono
, Travis Southard
, Anthony Lieghio
and Kemoy Campbell
combined for a season-best time of 9:30.22 to finish in eighth place overall. The top-14 DMR times in the NCAA emerged from Friday’s race at Notre Dame. Arkansas entered the meet with a time of 9:35.50, which at the time was good for fifth in the country.
Originally scheduled to be run with a preliminary round, the 60-meter hurdles turned into a one-section final with Cross running to victory in a time of 7.76. The time is not an improvement on his season-best mark of 7.65. Entering the weekend, the Razorback senior was tied for third in the nation on the season performance list for the event.
The team finished the night with six event wins. In addition to the efforts from Gauntlett, Momoh and Cross, Arkansas had first-place finishes from David Flynn
at 3,000 meters and Andrew Irwin
in the pole vault. Irwin enters the NCAA Championships as the defending national champion.
In the shot put, Devin Randal established a personal best on his first attempt of the competition. The redshirt freshman finished the day with a final mark of 17.10m/56-1.25, surpassing his previous best of 55-7.5. Friday’s performance moves Randal into 10th place on the Arkansas all-time performance list in the event. He is the first Razorback to crack the program’s top 10 since the 2002 season.
While in the past automatic and provisional qualifying marks were used to select the field for the NCAA Championships, all guidelines have been removed this season. Just the top-16 performers in individual events and the top 12 eligible relay teams will advance.
Arkansas will host the NCAA Indoor Championships next weekend (March 8-9) at the Tyson Center for the 11th time in program history. For tickets, visit the Razorback Ticket Center on Razorback Road by Baum Stadium, log on to the online ticket center at ArkansasRazorbacks.com or call 800-982-HOGS (4647). Keep up with Arkansas cross country and track and field through the team’s sport-specific RazorbackTF Facebook and Twitter pages.
1. Akheem Gauntlett
2. Marek Niit
3. Neil Braddy
– 21.24 (PR – prev: 21.40)
1. Akheem Gauntlett
– 46.14 (PR – prev: 46.23)
2. Marek Niit
3. Neil Braddy
6. David Wren – 49.35
1. Leoman Momoh
– 1:46.07 (PR – prev: 1:48.81)
2. Tomas Squella
– 1:46.76 (PR – prev: 1:49.14)
3. Cameron Efurd
– 1:50.40 (PR – prev: 1:52.39)
3. Raymond Joseph
1. David Flynn
--. Raymond Joseph
1. Caleb Cross
(in South Bend, Ind.)
8. Rono/Southard/Lieghio/Campbell – 9:30.22
3. Brede Ellingsen
4. Noah Kittelson
1. Andrew Irwin
4. Devin Randall
– 17.10m/56-1.25 (PR – prev: 55-7.5)