FAYETTEVILLE – The No. 1 University of Arkansas men’s track and field team finished day one of the Razorback Invitational with two victories and a day-one leader in the heptathlon. The Razorbacks picked up first-place performances from Akheem Gauntlett in the 200 meters and the distance-medley relay. In the heptathlon, Gunnar Nixon holds a lead of more than 100 points heading into day two.
"I was really pleased with how our guys in the heptathlon competed today," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "They don’t get a lot of chances because of the nature of the event so it was good to see them performing well. The fall in the DMR (by Stanford) was unfortunate but we ran a good time with solid legs by all of our guys. It was good to see Duncan Phillips on the track running well."
The team’s first win of the day came from its distance-medley relay. The foursome of Patrick Rono (2:55.63), Travis Southard (47.53), Leoman Momoh (1:50.57) and Duncan Phillips (4:05.69) combined for an NCAA-leading time of 9:39.41. The Razorbacks’ time is nearly 10 seconds faster than the previous best of 9:49.04 run by Penn State two weeks ago.
Gauntlett posted Arkansas’ second NCAA-leading time of the day with his performance in the 200 meters. The Razorback junior transfer ran to a time of 20.82 to win the event and finish as the only runner to dip under 21 seconds. Arkansas had a total of three top-10 results with Gauntlett, Marek Niit in sixth place with a time of 21.46 and Ben Skidmore in 10th with a time of 21.59.
At the end of day one of the heptathlon, Nixon holds the lead through the first four events of the two-day competition. Nixon posted a first-day score of 3,460 points, 144 points clear of his nearest competitor in Cory Holman of Georgia. Among his highlights, the Razorback freshman established personal bests in the high jump of 2.15m (7-0.5) and shot put 13.97m (45-10) and won the long jump.
There are six Razorbacks in the heptathlon field. Including Nixon, Kevin Lazas is in third place with 3,271 points, Terry Prentice is sixth with 3,116 points, Auston Chen is 12th with 2,997 points, Matt Kirbos is 13th with 2,912 points and Nathanael Franks is 14th with 2,881 points. During the day, Lazas set personal bests in the 60 meters (7.01) and shot put (14.35m/47-01) while Prentice set personal bests in the high jump (2.00m/6-6.75) and shot put (12.92m/42-4.75). Also in the high jump, Kirbos tied his personal best of 1.88m (6-2).
Arkansas had a pair of runner-up efforts Friday with Layne Nixon at 5,000 meters and Brede Ellingsen in the high jump. Nixon, making his first run at 5,000 meters, finished second in the event with a time of 14:34.25. In the high jump, Ellingsen led a 2-4-5 finish for the Razorbacks with a clearance of the bar set at 2.16m (7-1). Nii Ayi finished in sixth place in the long jump with a mark of 7.42m (24-4.25), a personal-best jump for the senior.
Day two of the 2012 Razorback Invitational is slated to begin Saturday at 11 a.m. (CT) with the heptathlon will resuming at noon. For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.