DES MOINES, Iowa – On day two of the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships, the No. 12 University of Arkansas men’s track and field team added 10 points to its total with a third- and fifth-place finish in the decathlon by Kevin Lazas and Gunnar Nixon, respectively. Through six events scored, the Razorbacks are in second place in the team standings with 16 points. Additionally, Duncan Phillips qualified for the final at 1,500 meters and the 4×400-meter relay team moved on to the championship race.
On his way to third place, Lazas improved upon his own school record with this two-day, 10-event total of 7,955 points. With their performances, he and Nixon became the first Razorbacks in school history to score in the event at the NCAA Championships. Last season as a freshman, Lazas finished 10th at the meet. Nixon made history of his own Thursday by establishing an American junior record using senior implements. He finished with a score of 7,892 points to replace the old mark (7,703) previously held by Lazas.
"There was some awesome competition out there," Lazas said. "It was a great field and that really pushed me through each event. I thought I had a great day two with a huge PR to end the meet in the 1,500 meters, five or six seconds faster than I’ve ever run. That is probably the highlight of my season."
Over the course of the 10 events, Lazas set or equaled three personal bests with his performances in the high jump Wednesday and 110-meter hurdles and 1,500 meters Thursday. He opened with day with a time of 15.12 in the hurdles and bookended his effort with a time of 4:31.33 in the 1,500 meters.
Nixon racked up four personal bests over the two-day competition, including three Thursday. He established or tied career bests in the high jump Wednesday and 110-meter hurdles (14.51), pole vault (4.60m/15-1) and 1,500 meters (4:30.41) on the second day of the meet. Despite a no-height result in the pole vault, teammate Terry Prentice finished 19th overall with 6,650 points to close out his Razorback career.
In semifinal action of the 1,500 meters, Phillips clinched a spot in the finals of the event with a season-best time of 3:40.38. He finished seventh in his heat and had to sit through the second heat to see if his time would hold. After a slower second race, Phillips’ time stood up and was good enough to be the second at-large time to advance. The event final of the 1,500 meters is scheduled for Saturday at 11:17 a.m. (CT).
"Overall, the race felt good," Phillips said. "Right away, in the first 20 meters, I could tell we were running fast. I’ve been in a lot of late-kick races this year so it was good to be in a faster race here. I was in position in the last 200 meters but I had to swing wide to get down the stretch. I had to wait it out to see if I got through but I’m happy to be in the final."
The Razorbacks’ 4×400-meter relay team also clinched a spot in the final Saturday. The quartet of Marek Niit, Travis Southard, Ben Skidmore and Neil Braddy combined for a time of 3:03.06 to move on to the finals. Arkansas finished third in its heat but the time was good enough for seventh overall and a spot in the championship race. The final of the 4×400-meter relay will be run Saturday at 12:40 p.m. (CT).
Arkansas’ lone competition Friday will be the final of the 400 meters with Gauntlett. The Razorback junior was the fifth-overall qualifier in the semifinals Wednesday. For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Thursday Results1,500m (semifinal)7. Duncan Phillips – 3:40.38Q (SB)
110m Hurdles (semifinal)23. Caleb Cross – 14.13
4x400m Relay (semifinal)7. Niit/Southard/Skidmore/Braddy – 3:03.06Q
Decathlon (day two/final)3. Kevin Lazas – 7,955 points% [6 points] 16. 110mH – 15.12 (PR) (835 points) 10. Discus – 40.71m/133-6 (679 points) 5. Pole vault – 5.10m/16-8.75 (941 points) 4. Javelin – 60.09m/197-1 (739 points) 8. 1,500m – 4:31.33 (PR) (736 points)5. Gunnar Nixon – 7,892 points^ [4 points] 5. 110mH – 14.51 (PR) (910 points) 18. Discus – 36.48m/119-8 (593 points) 13. Pole vault – 4.60m/15-1 (PR) (790 points) 9. Javelin – 56.12m/184-1 (680 points) 6. 1,500m – 4:30.41 (PR) (742 points)19. Terry Prentice – 6,650 points 3. 110mH – 14.33 (PR) (932 points) 17. Discus – 36.64m/120-2 (597 points) –. Pole vault – NH (no points) 17. Javelin – 49.37m/161-11 (579 points) 19. 1,500m – 4:58.59 (568 points)
Q – qualified for event final; % – school record; ^ – American junior record