FAYETTEVILLE – Two individual SEC titles, two runner-up finishes and 30 points from the 3,000 meters have given No. 6 Arkansas Razorback men’s track and field the lead in the team race after two days of competition at the SEC Indoor Championships, at the Randal Tyson Track Center, on Saturday.
After five events scored, Arkansas leads the team race with 57 points, Georgia is second with 26 points and LSU rounds out the top three with 25 points.
"Overall, today went well," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "Our long jumpers really came through for us and we picked up a big 30 points in the 3,000 meters, led by Dorian Ulrey’s win. We had a slight misstep in the heptathlon when Terry Prentice no-heighted in the pole vault but those things happen. He fought hard in the 1,000 meters and almost scored points for us. Our freshman, Matt Kirbos, stepped in and picked up some points. We got our guys to the finals in the mile and the 800 meters and we have some more distance events tomorrow that we are excited for."
Senior Dorian Ulrey won the 3,000 meters for the second straight season. He clocked a time of 8:00.05 and paced a 1-2-4-5-6 finish and 30 points for Arkansas in the event. Ulrey won his fourth SEC title overall and Arkansas’ 12th SEC 3K title. He is the first runner to win back-to-back SEC 3K titles since Arkansas’ Alistair Cragg in 2003-04.
"I love being an SEC champion again," Ulrey said. "It’s all about being a Razorback and being able to win here at the Randal Tyson Track Center. The most important thing for me is winning as a team, and then being able to represent the Razorbacks and the SEC in the NCAA meet. The race was not quite as easy as it looked but it definitely was not hard either."
Freshman Solomon Haile was second in 8:02.27, freshman Eric Fernandez was fourth in 8:04.76, senior Scott MacPherson was fifth in 8:06.11 and sophomore Lane Boyer was sixth in 8:07.91. All four will come back to run the 5,000-meter final on Sunday.
Senior Alain Bailey won his second SEC indoor long jump title and his fifth SEC title overall (indoor and outdoor/long and high jumps). He won Arkansas’ seventh SEC indoor long jump title and is only one of four student-athletes to win two career SEC indoor long jump titles since 1992.
Bailey’s best jump of the day, 26-9.75, came on his final attempt. His leap is a personal best, the NCAA leader and ranks No. 4 on Arkansas’ all-time list.
"I knew going into the meet I needed to get 10 points for my team," Bailey said. "Our team is very excited right now and we are very optimistic about the meet. It has been a good four years here for me at Arkansas, I have really enjoyed it. I will use my finish here as momentum going into the NCAAs."
Sophomore Tarik Batchelor was second in the long jump behind Bailey. His best jump of the day, 26-6.5, is a personal best and ranks No. 6 on Arkansas’ all-time list. Freshman Brede Ellingsen, making his SEC Championships debut, finished fourth in the high jump. His clearance of 7-2.5 is a personal best, an improved NCAA provisional qualifier and ranks No. 10 on Arkansas’ all-time list.
"We were hoping for big points in the long jump," assistant coach Travis Geopfert said. "For both Alain and Tarik to PR and take those points on their final jumps, that’s an unbelievable effort. They’ve had great practices leading up to these championships and they really hit their marks today. Brede Ellingsen also had a good day in the high jump. He scored some points for us and had an indoor personal best."
In the heptathlon, freshman Matt Kirbos was fifth with 5,020 points and sophomore Terry Prentice finished ninth with 4,742 points. Kirbos ended the seven-event competition with a PR of 8.59 in the 60-meter hurdles, a clearance of 14-5.25 in the pole vault and a personal-best time of 2:56.68 in the 1,000 meters.
Prentice got a solid start in the hurdles with a personal-best time of 8.32. However, disaster struck in the pole vault when he failed to clear his opening height. He fought back with a time of 2:48.84 in the 1,000 meters to earn his ninth-place finish.
The Razorbacks advanced four to the mile finals. In the prelims, junior Michael Chinchar was third (4:06.73), Ulrey was fourth (4:06.75), freshman Omar Abdi was seventh (4:08.37) and sophomore Rick Elliott was ninth (4:09.20).
Two Hogs will run in Sunday’s 800-meter finals. Junior Chris Bilbrew was fourth in the prelims with a time of 1:51.35. Freshman Drew Butler finished seventh with a time of 1:51.95.
Other qualifiers to Sunday’s finals include freshman Caleb Cross in the 60-meter hurdles (prelim time of 7.98), junior LaShawn Butler in the 200 meters (21.08) and sophomore Ben Skidmore in the 400 meters (47.51). Butler’s time is also an NCAA provisional qualifier. Freshman Cobi Hamilton finished 10th in the 200-meter prelims. He was the first left out of the final with his time of 21.22.
The ESPNU championship highlight show will air Thurs., March 11 at 8 p.m. CST on ESPNU. SEC Weekly TV will also be devoting a show to the championship. SEC Weekly TV airs Tuesdays at 5 p.m. CST on ESPNU and repeats a few times during the week. Some of the clips from SEC Weekly TV are also posted on SECSports.com.