FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Based on a collection of performances during the 2012 indoor season, the University of Arkansas men’s track and field team stacks up well against the world’s best. The Razorbacks’ 4×400-meter relay headlined the team’s efforts on the indoor, 200-meter track with its world-leading 3:03.76 showing during the USA Track & Field Classic in Fayetteville. Overall, Arkansas had three top-10 marks on the world’s performance list for the 2012 indoor season.
The relay foursome of Neil Braddy, Akheem Gauntlett, Marek Niit and Ben Skidmore combined to run the second-fastest time in NCAA history and the No. 11 time by any relay team. Arkansas’ time is faster than that of Team USA that won the gold medal at the World Indoor Championships in Turkey. The Razorbacks were the only collegiate team to dip below 3:05.00 in 2012. They did it twice.
Individually, all four legs of Arkansas’ 4×400-meter relay team also rank among the world’s best. Niit (46.04) was the 14th-fastest over 400 meters while Gauntlett (46.23) was 21st, Braddy (46.28) was 23rd and Skidmore (46.57) was 38th in the world during the 2012 indoor season.
Gauntlett and Niit were also ranked highly at 200 meters. Gauntlett, the NCAA indoor runner-up, was the sixth fastest with his season-best time of 20.62. Niit came in at No. 13 on the world list with a time of 20.85.
Arkansas’ third top-10 world performer was Gunnar Nixon in the heptathlon. At the Razorback Invitational, the freshman standout posted a total of 6,022 points to set the world junior record. Nixon’s performance was the ninth-best during the indoor season. He was joined on the list by teammate Kevin Lazas whose 5,930 points at the NCAA Championships ranked 15th in the world.
The team’s remaining top-50 world performances came from Andrew Irwin in the pole vault and Caleb Cross in the 60-meter hurdles. In winning the program’s first-ever NCAA indoor title in the event, Irwin cleared 5.55m/18-2.5 which ranked No. 32 on the world list. Also at the national meet, Cross turned in a time of 7.67 in the 60-meter hurdles. He finished the indoor season as the 39th-fastest world performer in the event.
Arkansas also had a pair of top-100 high jumpers with the efforts of Noah Kittelson (2.22m/7-3.25) and Brede Ellingsen (2.21m/7-3). On the heels of his mark, Kittelson earned a trip to the NCAA Championships.
The Razorbacks now turn their attention to the outdoor season which begins March 28 at the Texas Relays in Austin and March 31 at the Arkansas Spring Invitational in Fayetteville at John McDonnell Field.
2012 Indoor World Event Rankings(top 50)
200 meters6. Akheem Gauntlett – 20.6213. Marek Niit – 20.85
400 meters14. Marek Niit – 46.0421. Akheem Gauntlett – 46.2323. Neil Braddy – 46.2838. Ben Skidmore – 46.57
60m hurdles39. Caleb Cross – 7.67
4x400m relay1. Marek Niit/Akheem Gauntlett/Ben Skidmore/Neil Braddy – 3:03.76
Pole vault32. Andrew Irwin – 5.55m/18-2.5
Heptathlon9. Gunnar Nixon – 6,022 points15. Kevin Lazas – 5,930 points