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Akheem Gauntlett won his heat and finished third overall in 400-meter qualifying.
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Higgs advances to NCAA meet, eight qualify

Zach Lawson, Athletic Media Relations
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AUSTIN, Texas - Through day one of the 2012 NCAA West Preliminary in Austin, Texas, the No. 8 University of Arkansas men's track and field team has a national qualifier in Raymond Higgs and eight runners advanced to the quarterfinal round of competition. With his performance Thursday, Higgs will represent the Razorbacks in the long jump at the NCAA Championships.

Higgs only need one jump to secure a spot at the national meet. On his first attempt of long jump qualifying, the Razorback sophomore got out to a wind-aided mark 8.23m/27-0. The jump stood as the best of the day among all competitors. Higgs, the SEC champion in the long jump, will enter the NCAA Championships with the best jump in the NCAA, the 8.36m/27-2.25 measure from the conference meet.

In the first event on the track, Caleb Cross and Kyle Dunn qualified for the next round of the 400-meter hurdles. Both Razorbacks earned automatic advancement with top-three finishes in their respective heats. Cross was the 12th overall qualifier with a time of 52.33 while Dunn had a time of 52.38, good for 17th in the first-round heats. Friday's quarterfinal is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. (CT) start.

The Razorbacks' third qualifier of the day was Duncan Phillips in the 1,500 meters. Running in heat two, he grabbed one of the guaranteed spots into the next round with a third-place finish in 3:50.30. He was 10th overall among the 24 qualifiers. The quarterfinal round of the 1,500 meters will be contested Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

Arkansas qualified three of its four entries in the 400 meters for the next round. Akheem Gauntlett won his heat in 46.17 and Neil Braddy was second in his heat with a time of 47.06. The top-three heat finishes assured their spot in the quarterfinals. Ben Skidmore was fifth in his heat but with his time of 47.15, the Razorback senior had one of the nine at-large times. The next round is set for Friday at 6 p.m.

Leoman Momoh was the team's top performer in the 800 meters, picking up a third-place finish in heat four to seal his position in the next round. He had a time of 1:49.79. He will be joined in the quarterfinal by Anthony Lieghio who advanced with an at-large qualifying time of 1:49.84 out of heat six. The next round of the 800 meters is Friday at 7 p.m.

Competition continues Friday with quarterfinal action in the 400 meters, 800 meters and 400-meter hurdles and first-round heats of the 200 meters and 110-meter hurdles. The 3,000-meter steeplechase will also be run on day two. The top-12 performers from the quarterfinal heats and steeplechase will advance to the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.

Meet coverage for the 2012 NCAA West Preliminary will including live results, video stream and interactive blog which begins at 1 p.m. (CT) each day. For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.

Thursday Results
400 Meters
3. Akheem Gauntlett - 46.17q
12. Neil Braddy - 47.06q
23. Ben Skidmore - 47.15q
30. Travis Southard - 47.57

800 Meters
15. Leoman Momoh - 1:49.79q
21. Anthony Lieghio - 1:49.84q
48. Drew Butler - 1:59.22

1,500 Meters
10. Duncan Phillips - 3:50.30q
37. Patrick Rono - 3:58.99

400m Hurdles
12. Caleb Cross - 52.33q
17. Kyle Dunn - 52.38q
43. Hunter Bourke - 53.69

Long Jump
1. Raymond Higgs - 8.23m/27-0Q
22. Terry Prentice - 7.47m/24-6.25
25. Kevin Lazas - 7.42m/24-4.25

40. Luke Laird - 57.26m/187-10

Q - qualified for the NCAA Championships || q - qualified to the next round

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