FAYETTEVILLE – Senior Alain Bailey won his first NCAA individual title for No. 8 Arkansas Razorback men’s track and field on day one of the NCAA Indoor Championships, at the Randal Tyson Track Center on Friday.
After day one of competition and six events scored, Arkansas leads the team race with 24 points. Florida is second with 20 points and Florida State is third with 14 points.
"What Alain and Tarik did in the long jump was really a great start for us," Bucknam said. "They did their best to get this team going and scored some big points for us. Unfortunately, Scott MacPherson had an off day and that happens. I know he wanted to end his career on a high note but he has done some much for us during his time and he has a lot to be proud of."
Bailey won the long jump with a mark of 26-9.75, matching his personal best from the 2010 SEC Indoor Championships. He earned his fourth All-American honor, third indoors, and won Arkansas’ eighth NCAA Indoor long jump title, the first since Melvin Lister’s 2000 victory. Bailey’s mark is also the second-longest recorded by a Razorback to win an NCAA Indoor title.
"This feels so great," Bailey said. "I’ve been waiting four years for this and I finally got it. I’m ecstatic right now. I was able to jump a really good series, very consistent. I had three jumps over 26 feet and felt really relaxed. I started tiring after that third jump but it held up."
Sophomore Tarik Batchelor picked up a bronze finish in the long jump and the duo scored 16 points for the Razorbacks. Batchelor’s best jump of the day measured 26-0 and the three-time NCAA qualifier earned his first All-America honor.
"They gave unbelievable effort," assistant coach Travis Geopfert said. "When you come into a national championship ranked first and third, you obviously have a big target on your back. To be able to come out of it first and third, that just shows you how good they’ve been at handling the pressure. It was great they could do this at home. The fans were great, all the teammates were down there clapping and cheering. It created an exciting atmosphere for an exciting competition."
Freshman Drew Butler (1,200 meters), Sophomore Ben Skidmore (400 meters), junior Chris Bilbrew (800 meters) and senior Dorian Ulrey (1,600 meters) combined for a time of 9:37.53 to earn a runner-up finish in the distance medley relay. With four fresh legs, the Razorbacks put their best four on the track for what promised to be an exciting race.
Ulrey took the lead with 200 meters to go but was unable to hold off 2008 Olympian Andrew Wheating of Oregon at the finish line. The Ducks won the race in 9:36.87.
Ulrey earned his sixth All-America honor in an Arkansas uniform and his fifth on the track. Skidmore is now a two-time All-American and Bilbrew and Butler earned their first All-America certificates.
"That DMR is tough to swallow," Bucknam said. "Our guys gave it everything they have. It’s hard getting stung twice but it happens. Dorian has to re-group and get ready to run the 3,000 meters tomorrow. We had some young guys that ran some good legs on that relay. I’m proud of what they did."
Freshman Caleb Cross finished 10th in the prelims of the 60-meter hurdles. He clocked a time of 7.82 but did not advance to the finals. He did finish among the top eight Americans to earn his first All-America honor. Cross is Arkansas’ first All-American in the 60 meters hurdles since Michael Thomas in 2003.
In his final race in a Razorback uniform, senior Scott MacPherson finished 14th in the 5,000 meters with a time of 14:30.27. The Plano, Texas native ends his career as a two-time All-American and a two-time SEC Champion.
Events will continue at the NCAA Indoor Championships at 11 a.m. on Saturday.