DES MOINES, Iowa – Raymond Higgs opened the scoring for the No. 12 University of Arkansas men’s track and field team with a third-place finish in the long jump Wednesday at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. In addition to the six points from Higgs, the Razorbacks picked up qualifiers for event finals in the 400 meters with Akheem Gauntlett and 4×100-meter relay. Arkansas also has three in the top seven at the end of day one in the decathlon.
On his first attempt of the competition, Higgs posted his best mark of the day with a jump of 8.05m/26-5. He entered the finals as the third-best qualifier and ended the day in the same place. Higgs’ result is Arkansas’ highest outdoor finish in the long jump since Melvin Lister won the event in 1999. He closes out a season in which he won the SEC title back in May. Last season, Higgs finished eighth in the long jump at the NCAA meet.
At the end of day one in the decathlon, all three Razorbacks are in scoring position with Gunnar Nixon leading the way for the team in second place. He has a score of 4,177 points through the first five events, just 10 points behind leader Kurt Felix of Boise State. Kevin Lazas currently sits in fifth place with 4,025 points while Terry Prentice, in his NCAA Championships debut, is seventh with 3,974 points.
"Things felt good out there today," Nixon said. "We started the day with a tailwind in the 100 (meters) so it’s always nice to start things off with a good time. When you run a good time in that first event, things snowball and you have good events coming up. As a group, we started out good (at the SEC Championships) and we want to do the same here, so we want to score as many points as possible."
Day two of the 10-event competition is slated to begin Thursday at 11:30 a.m. (CT). In order, the remaining events in the decathlon are the 110-meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500 meters.
In the first semifinal event of the day, the Razorbacks’ 4×100-meter relay team of Gauntlett, Caleb Cross, Neil Braddy and Marek Niit finished seventh overall to qualify for the event final. The quartet posted a season-best time of 39.19 to finish third in heat one and secure the top at-large time to move on. With their time, they moved into third place on the program’s all-time list. The finals of the 4×100-meter relays will be run Saturday at 11:03 a.m. (CT).
Gauntlett returned to the track in the 400 meters to secure Arkansas’ second qualifier of the day. Running in heat two, the Razorback junior made a late charge down the final 100 meters to finish in a personal-best time of 45.13. He finished second in his heat and fifth overall to advance to Friday’s final. Already the fourth-fastest runner over 400 meters in school history, Gauntlett improved upon his previous best of 45.57 run in May at the SEC Championships. The final of the event is scheduled for Friday at 6:55 p.m. (CT).
Competition at the NCAA Championships continues Thursday with the conclusion of the decathlon and semifinal rounds in the 1,500 meters with Duncan Phillips, 110-meter hurdles with Cross and 4×400-meter relay. For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Wednesday Results400 Meters (semifinal)5. Akheem Gauntlett – 45.13Q (PR)15. Neil Braddy – 46.15
400m Hurdles (semifinal)16. Caleb Cross – 50.98
4x100m Relay (semifinal)7. Cross/Gauntlett/Braddy/Niit – 39.19Q (SB)
Long Jump3. Raymond Higgs – 8.05m/26-5 [6 points]
Decathlon (day one)2. Gunnar Nixon – 4,177 points 4. 100m – 10.93w (876 points) 4. Long jump – 7.25m/23-9.5 (874 points) 6. Shot put – 13.73m/45-0.5 (712 points) 1. High jump – 2.05m/6-8.75 (850 points) 8. 400m – 48.92 (865 points)5. Kevin Lazas – 4,025 points 10. 100m – 11.05 (850 points) 2. Long jump – 7.33m/24-0.75 (893 points) 2. Shot put – 14.09m/46-2.75 (734 points) 6. High jump – 1.99m/6-6.25 (794 points) 20. 400m – 51.34 (754 points)7. Terry Prentice – 3,974 points 6. 100m – 10.94w (874 points) 6. Long jump – 7.16m/23-6 (852 points) 17. Shot put – 12.42m/40-9 (632 points) 6. High jump – 1.99m/6-6.25 (794 points) 14. 400m – 49.84 (822 points)
Q – qualified for event final