BATON ROUGE, La. – In his season debut for the Razorbacks, sophomore Raymond Higgs won the long jump title at the 2012 Southeastern Conference Championships in Baton Rouge, La. At the end of day three, the sixth-ranked University of Arkansas men’s track and field team leads the conference meet with 70 points through the first six scored events. The Razorbacks also added 11 points to their total from a 3-4 finish in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
Higgs won the long jump with a wind-aided leap of 8.36m/27-5.25 in his final jump of the competition. All three of his jumps during the finals would have earned him the victory. With the jump, Higgs became the No. 5 performer in school history considering marks in all conditions. Based on marks entering the weekend, Higgs is the national leader in the event and the only jumper to surpass the 27-foot barrier this season. His performance is also the best jump in the world this year under all conditions.
The win is the program’s 10th in the long jump since joining the conference during the 1991-92 season. Higgs is Arkansas’ first winner in the event since Alain Bailey in 2010. Higgs joins Arkansas’ list of SEC long jump champions that includes Bailey, Robert Howard, Melvin Lister and Erick Walder.
"On that last jump, I knew it was a good one when I landed," Higgs said. "I thought to myself ‘yeah, that was a good one.’ All I had to do was wait for the result and it was 8.36 (meters). I just have to thank God for getting me here, along with my teammates, friends, family and coaches for pushing me and even my teachers for helping me get through my classes."
In the final event of the day, David Flynn and Rick Elliott finished in third and fourth place, respectively, in the steeplechase to pad the Razorbacks’ lead. Flynn finished the race with a time of 8:52.76 while Elliott came across the line in a time of 9:02.56. Heading into the final day, Arkansas has scored at least 10 points in all four events it has received points.
The Razorbacks picked up three qualifiers each in the 1,500 meters and 110-meter hurdles. Patrick Rono paced Arkansas to a 1-3-4 finish in the second heat of prelims in the 1,500 meters. He crossed the finish line in a time of 3:51.74 and was the second overall qualifier. Anthony Lieghio and Duncan Phillips followed in times of 3:52.33 and 3:52.68, respectively. All three Razorbacks will attempt the 800-1,500 double Sunday.
In the qualifying round of the 110-meter hurdles, a trio of Razorbacks moved on with Caleb Cross, Kyle Dunn and Andrew Pennington grabbing a spot in the finals. Cross was an automatic qualifier with a time of 14.05 while Dunn (14.36) and Pennington (14.50) got through on time. Cross and Pennington are set to double up Sunday along with the finals of the 400-meter hurdles.
Marek Niit advanced to his second final of the weekend with a fourth-place finish in the prelims of the 100 meters. He won heat three in a time of 10.37 to secure one of the four automatic spots in Sunday’s final. Niit is also scheduled to run in the finals of the 200 meters. In the preliminary heats of the 400 meters, Akheem Gauntlett advanced to the final with a time of 46.58 and a secured berth into the championship race.
The final day of competition begins at 1 p.m. (CT) for the Razorbacks with the finals of the javelin. Other field finals for Arkansas include the high jump, pole vault and shot put. Through the first two days of preliminary action, the Razorbacks have qualified 16 runners into Sunday’s finals spread among the 100 meters (1), 200 meters (1), 400 meters (1), 800 meters (5), 1500 meters (3), 110-meter hurdles (3) and 400-meter hurdles (2). There will also be scoring chances in the 5,000 meters and both relays.
Live coverage of the conference meet will air on ESPN3.com on Sunday from 3-7 p.m. Dwight Stones, Larry Rawson and Lewis Johnson will have the call of the action. A two-hour highlight show recapping the SEC Championships will air Wednesday, May 23, at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.
In addition to the ESPN3.com video schedule, meet coverage for the 2012 SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships will include live results and an interactive blog which will begin at 2:45 p.m. For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
100 Meters (prelim)4. Marek Niit – 10.37Q
400 Meters (prelim)5. Akheem Gauntlett – 46.58Q12. Neil Braddy – 46.8313. Ben Skidmore – 47.13
1,500 Meters (prelim)2. Patrick Rono – 3:51.74Q6. Anthony Lieghio – 3:52.33Q8. Duncan Phillips – 3:52.68Q
110m Hurdles (prelim)4. Caleb Cross – 14.05Q8. Kyle Dunn – 14.36q9. Andrew Pennington – 14.50q
3,000m Steeplechase (final)3. David Flynn – 8:52.76 [6 points]4. Rick Elliott – 9:02.56 [5 points]
Long Jump (final)1. Raymond Higgs – 8.36m/27-5.25 [10 points]
Discus (final)11. Justin Holmes – 49.30m/161-9