BATON ROUGE, La. - Behind a pair of titles Friday from Kevin Lazas and Eric Fernandez, the No. 6 University of Arkansas men's track and field team leads the 2012 Southeastern Conference Championships in Baton Rouge, La., with 49 points through the first two days of competition. Lazas captured the program's first-ever conference title in the decathlon, while Fernandez capped day two with a victory at 10,000 meters, the program's 100th SEC event title.
Lazas paced the Razorbacks to a 1-2-3-6 finish in the decathlon. He finished the two-day, 10-event competition with 7,778 points. Based on scores entering the weekend, Lazas moved into seventh place on this season's national performance list. Overall, Arkansas collected 27 points in the decathlon behind Lazas, runner-up Terry Prentice, third-place Gunnar Nixon and sixth-place Auston Chen.
"I really had to reset today," Lazas said. "I had a bad finish to day one yesterday and I thought about that for a while, but when I woke up this morning, I just told myself to go for it. I wanted to go out and attack each event. At the end of the day, it paid off for me, and more importantly, it paid off for the team. It's really unbelievable for us to get 27 points for the team and start the meet off right."
In the last conference meet of his career, Prentice posted a personal-best score of 7,585 points. He added more than 250 points to his previous best of 7,326 points which he scored earlier this year at the Mt. SAC Relays. Nixon rounded out the top-three sweep for the Razorbacks with 7,544 points. He closed out the day with a win in the final event of the decathlon, the 1,500 meters. Chen added three points to the team score with his final score of 6,709 points.
Fernandez closed out the day with his second SEC title of the year. He won the individual cross country title back in November. The Razorback junior pulled away from his teammates late in the race to finish in a time of 29:34.54. Arkansas finished with 22 points from the race along with a runner-up result from Solomon Haile and a fifth-place finish by Lane Boyer. Haile crossed the finish line in a time of 29:56.04 while Boyer clocked in at 30:19.06.
"The team strategy was to take it out early," Fernandez said. "I think we were feeling a little fatigued from our workouts but that's good because we're not peaking right now. We still have four weeks left in our season. We're all on a mission. We got the cross country team title, the indoor team title and I'm itching for that triple-crown ring. Everyone is here together focused on one goal."
Friday also marked the beginning of preliminary round at the SEC Championships. The Razorbacks advanced eight runners into Sunday's finals, five-Duncan Phillips, Leoman Momoh, Anthony Lieghio, Drew Butler and Patrick Rono-in the 800 meters, two-Caleb Cross and Kyle Dunn-in the 400-meter hurdles and one-Marek Niit-at 200 meters.
Arkansas will have scoring opportunities Saturday with finals of the 3,000-meter steeplechase, long jump and discus. Preliminary rounds continue on day three of the conference meet with action in the 100 meters, 400 meters, 1,500 meters and 110-meter hurdles.
Live coverage of the conference meet will air on ESPN3.com on Saturday and Sunday. That coverage will air Saturday from 4:30-7:15 p.m. (CT) and Sunday from 3-7 p.m. Dwight Stones, Larry Rawson and Lewis Johnson will have the call of the action. A two-hour highlight show recapping the SEC Championships will air Wednesday, May 23, at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.
In addition to the ESPN3.com video schedule, meet coverage for the 2012 SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships will include live results and an interactive blog. Saturday's blog will begin at 2:15 p.m. For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
200 Meters (prelims)
8. Marek Niit - 21.12q
1. Kevin Lazas - 7,778 points [10 points]
3. 110m Hurdles - 15.14 - 833 points
2. Discus - 39.48m/129-6 - 654 points
1. Pole Vault - 5.15m/16-10.75 - 957 points
1. Javelin - 57.63m/189-1 - 702 points
3. 1,500m - 4:47.87 - 632 points
2. Terry Prentice - 7,585 points [8 points]
2. 110m Hurdles - 14.97 - 853 points
4. Discus - 38.39m/125-11 - 632 points
3. Pole Vault - 4.35m/14-3.25 - 716 points
5. Javelin - 50.41m/165-5 - 595 points
2. 1,500m - 4:41.52 - 671 points
3. Gunnar Nixon - 7,544 points [6 points]
4. 110m Hurdles - 15.52 - 788 points
7. Discus - 32.14m/105-5 - 507 points
3. Pole Vault - 4.35m/14-3.25 - 716 points
3. Javelin - 56.86m/186-6 - 691 points
1. 1,500m - 4:30.44 - 742 points
6. Auston Chen - 6,709 points [3 points]
6. 110m Hurdles - 16.68 - 658 points
1. Discus - 42.13m/138-3 - 708 points
7. Pole Vault - 3.85m/12-7.5 - 576 points
7. Javelin - 43.13m/141-6 - 488 points
7. 1,500m - 5:18.18 - 460 points