FAYETTEVILLE – The No. 14 University of Arkansas men’s track and field team opened its outdoor home slate Saturday at the Razorback Spring Invitational at John McDonnell Field. The Razorbacks picked up three victories with Noah Kittelson in the high jump and the 4×100- and 4×400-meter relays.
"This was a workout day for us in our training phase," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "You saw a lot of guys doubling and it’s just a matter of continuing to work hard. As we get into May, we’ll start to freshen up. It’s good to get the facility open and get a meet where everything worked out okay."
Arkansas collected its first win of the day with its showing in the 4×100-meter relay. The foursome of Caleb Cross, Neil Braddy, LaShawn Butler and Marek Niit combined to pass the baton around the track in a time of 39.57, an improvement of the team’s mark last weekend in Austin. Based on times entering competition this weekend, the Razorbacks’ time Saturday is No. 2 in the country.
Serving as a bookend to their day on the track, the Razorbacks’ 4×400 relay closed out the meet with a win. The team of Niit, Braddy, Ben Skidmore and Chris Bilbrew clocked in at 3:12.82
Kittelson came away with the team’s second victory Saturday with his performance in the high jump. After getting over the bar on his first three attempts of the event, he finished with a best mark of 6-11. Raymond Higgs completed Arkansas’ control of the top two spots with his 6-9 clearance and runner-up effort. Dwayne Golbek finished fifth as one of three jumpers with a 6-7 mark.
In the 110-meter hurdles, Cross and Andrew Pennington were the top collegiate performers. Cross finished in a time of 14.45, good for second overall, and Pennington posted a time of 14.62, good for third place. In preparation work for decathlon duties later this season, Kevin Lazas finished seventh overall with a personal-best time of 15.44.
For the second consecutive weekend, Pennington set a personal best in the 400-meter hurdles. He finished third overall with a time of 53.18, ahead of teammates Travis Southard and Cross who were fourth and fifth, respectively. Southard finished with a time of 53.82 and Cross posted a time of 54.06, a personal best for the sophomore. Hunter Bourke (55.08) won section two and finished seventh overall.
The Razorbacks placed four inside the top 10 of the 800 meters. Leoman Momoh used a late surge down the home stretch to take second place. He crossed in a time of 1:50.87, just .03 second behind Justin Duncan of Tulsa. Dorian Ulrey finished with a time of 1:51.03, good for third place. Scott Gillespie (1:52.79) in fifth and Omar Abdi (1:53.32) in seventh rounded out Arkansas’ top-10 performers in the event. The times for Momoh and Gillespie are respective personal bests.
Bilbrew and Skidmore were Arkansas’ top finishers in the 400 meters. Bilbrew was fourth in a personal-best time of 47.35 while Skidmore finished fifth (47.45). Cory Kocurek, in 11th place, ran a personal best of 49.96. Running in his third event of the day, Butler eased in to a time of 21.28 and a seventh-place effort in the 200 meters. He finished just ahead of Braddy. The freshman sprinter was eighth overall with a time of 21.30.
Michael Golden notched a personal best in the 3,000 meters. The Razorback sophomore had a time of 8:32.86 and finished in eighth place. In the 1,500 meters, Patrick Russell (3:51.13) and Cameron Efurd (3:52.15) finished sixth and eighth, respectively.
In the Razorbacks’ first field event of the day, Justin Holmes was the team’s top performer in the discus and finished fourth overall with a day’s best of 157-5. He was followed by teammate Marlon Dwyer and his toss of 154-10, good for fifth place. In the shot put, Lazas was Arkansas’ top finisher with a mark 43-9.25 and a fifth-place result. With a sixth-place finish, Stuart Sparks led Arkansas’ efforts in the pole vault which included a 14-7.25 clearance for multi-events specialist Terry Prentice, his first time over the 14-foot mark.
The Razorback Spring Invitational marks the first of three home meets for Arkansas this season. The Razorbacks return to action next week for the 84th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays which will be held April 6-9 at Mike A. Myers Track Stadium in Austin. For more information and continued coverage, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.