FAYETTEVILLE – Multi-event competitors for the No. 5 University of Arkansas men’s track and field team open their outdoor campaign with a decathlon that begins Wednesday. The two-day, 10-event competition will take place at Azusa Pacific University Stadium in Azusa, Calif.
This week’s schedule will also see the Razorbacks split between the John McDonnell Invitational in Fayetteville and the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif. Action at the home event begins Friday with the discus and hammer competitions. The meet resumes Saturday with the field events beginning at 11 a.m. (CT) and running events slated for a 4 p.m. start.
"Every meet becomes critical at this stage of the season," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "Part of the reason this week is so important is that we’re traveling to Drake Relays next weekend which is relay heavy. From the standpoint of our individual events, this weekend and the Arkansas Twilight become very important for us to get some qualifiers and get our guys up to a championship level."
Auston Chen, Nathanael Franks, Kevin Lazas, Gunnar Nixon and Terry Prentice will participate in the Mt. SAC section of the decathlon while Matt Kirbos will be part of the CA Invitational. This weekend marks the fifth and sixth events of the season for the Razorbacks.
Along with Arkansas, the John McDonnell Invitational will host a field of teams that includes Drury, Illinois, Missouri State, Missouri Southern, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oral Roberts, Saint Louis and Tulsa. The Sooners are the No. 21 team in the country.
Entering the weekend, the Razorbacks have six top-10 marks on the national performance list. Andrew Irwin continues to lead the NCAA in the pole vault with a 5.60m/18-4.5 clearance. In the 3,000-meter steeplechase, David Flynn at 8:49.24 and Rick Elliott at 8:51.03 are ranked fifth and eighth in the event, respectively. Sprinters Marek Niit-10.19 at 100 meters-and Akheem Gauntlett-20.53 at 200 meters-are both ranked eighth in the NCAA. Arkansas’ 4×100-meter relay (39.42) has the No. 10 time in the country.
In the most recent release of the USTFCCCA national poll, Arkansas was ranked No. 5 in the country. The Razorbacks are one of four SEC teams ranked in the top 10 and seven from the league ranked in the top 25 overall. Arkansas is joined in the rankings by Florida, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Georgia and Auburn.
Stemming from his performance at the Arizona State Tri-Meet,Irwin was named the Southeastern Conference Field Athlete of the Week. The recognition was his third of the outdoor season and fourth of his freshman year.
Meet coverage for both the John McDonnell Invitational and Mt. SAC Relays include live results while the home event will also feature an interactive blog. For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.