FAYETTEVILLE – Junior Stanley Kebenei paced the University of Arkansas men’s track and field team on the final day of competition at the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., with a runner-up finish in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Overall, the Razorbacks finished tied for ninth place in the team standings with 20 points.
“Today was important, we had to put some points on the board to get in the top 10,” said Head Coach Chris Bucknam. “It’s been a tough week for us. Obviously we don’t feel like we put our best foot forward. “Injuries, fatigue, near misses and bad breaks add up real quick. We really needed to get off to a good start on Wednesday, but it just didn’t materialize for us, so we were battling back every day for the next three days to try to get those 20 points. I was proud of our kids, the way they didn’t give up, the way battled back. They came in here with the hopes of challenging for a national title but they battled and we tried to get every single point we could to have the best possible standing at the end of the day today.” Entering the day in 17th place, a runner-up finish in the 3,000-meter steeplechase by Kebenei earned eight points for Arkansas and propelled the Razorbacks into the top 10 in team standings for the first time of the meet. Kebenei took a tough fall at the end of the race, but got back up to finish runner-up and another All-American honor to his career. “It feels great,” said Kebenei of his runner-up performance. “I fell on the last bar, but things happen. I happy with my performance, I gave it my all.” Sitting in eighth place heading into the final round of jumps in flight one, a huge third-attempt jump of 52-4.5 moved Anthony May into second place in his flight, advancing him to the finals. Although just a quarter of an inch from scoring, May finished his senior year strong as a runner-up SEC Champion and qualifying in two events at the NCAA Championships. “May finished his career as a three-time All-American, SEC Champion and multiple-time All-SEC performer,” said Assistant Coach Travis Geopfert. “He has probably scored more points than any jumper in the SEC the last two seasons in the three jumps. He is a tremendous athlete and person. He’s made us all proud to have him as a Razorback.” Raymond Higgs also competed in triple jump, following a third-place finish in long jump on Thursday to give the Razorbacks their first six points of the meet. His final leap landed at 50-4.25. “Higgs always gives his best effort on the track and finished his career as a 6X All-American, 3X SEC Champion and 2012 Olympian,” stated Geopfert. “His competitiveness always elevated our jumper’s performances and he will always be remembered as one of the best competitors that I’ve personally coached. I’m very proud of his efforts and how he’s developed and matured through his career as a Razorback.” In the final event of the week, the 4×400 relay team of Jarrion Lawson, Eric Janise, Travis Southard and Neil Braddy clocked 3:07.26 for an eighth-place finish in a strong field of national contenders.
“I just want to take my hat off to our seniors,” said Bucknam. “They were part of an outstanding group of athletes the last four years. They’ve been part of our championship teams that have won SEC titles, won an NCAA title and that had two national runner-up finishes. Even the guys that aren’t here this weekend, I’m so proud of how they competed for the Razorbacks. This group of seniors really contributed a great amount to the success of the program over these last four years. A special bow to those guys, I’m really, really proud of them.” For more information on Arkansas men’s track and field, follow @RazorbackMTrack on Twitter. Saturday Results (Day 4) Team t-9. – 20 points 3,000m Steeplechase 2. Stanley Kebenei – 8:35.27 [8 points] 4x400m Relay 8. Lawson/Janise/Southard/Braddy – 3:07.26 [1 point] Triple Jump 9. Anthony May – 15.96m/52-4.5 23. Raymond Higgs – 15.37m/50-5.25