FAYETTEVILLE — During the penultimate weekend of the indoor season, the No. 1 University of Arkansas men’s track and field team will host the Arkansas Final Qualifier and send its distance-medley relay to the Alex Wilson Invitational in South Bend, Ind. Competition at the Razorbacks’ home last-chance meet is set to begin with field events at noon (CT) while running events are scheduled for a 5 p.m. start. The field of NCAA qualifiers will be announced Monday. General admission tickets for home meets during the regular season are $5. Fans 17 years and younger are admitted free and University of Arkansas students get in free with their valid student ID. Doors at the Randal Tyson Track Center open one hour prior to the start of competition. The Razorbacks enter the weekend with seven athletes positioned inside the national top 30 but outside the top-16 event rankings. Of that group, four will be in competition in Fayetteville with Marek Niit at 200 meters, Tomas Squella and Ryan Thomas at 800 meters and Brede Ellingsen in the high jump. At last year’s Final Qualifier, Noah Kittelson improved upon his season best to qualify for the national meet. Arkansas’ distance-medley relay team will be looking to defend and improve its national ranking with its run at Notre Dame. The three-section final of the DMR will begin at 7 p.m. The Razorbacks enter the weekend with a No. 5 event ranking and season-best time of 9:35.50 from the Armory Collegiate Invitational. Arkansas’ DMR is appearance at the Alex Wilson Invitational for the second consecutive season. Last year, the team clocked in with a season-best time of 9:31.48 and went on to finish fifth at the NCAA Championships in Nampa, Idaho. “This has morphed into the meet that qualifies DMR teams,” head coach Chris Bucknam said. “Everybody around the country with outstanding middle-distance crews will be there and it will basically be the preliminary for the national championship. We look at it like a first round and in order to be one of the final teams, we’re going to have to run well up there.” Niit heads into the weekend with a season-best time of 21.02 at 200 meters which he ran last weekend at the SEC Championships. With that time, he is tied for 24th place on the national performance list. Squella (1:49.14) and Thomas (1:49.25) are ranked No. 23 and 25 at 800 meters, respectively. Both of those times were run at the SEC meet. In the high jump, Ellingsen is one of four jumpers in the NCAA with season-best clearances of 2.18m/7-1.75. He is currently No. 22 on the nation’s list. While in the past automatic and provisional qualifying marks were used to select the field for the championships, all guidelines have been removed this season. Just the top 16 performers in individual events and the top 12 eligible relay teams will advance. Arkansas is the top-ranked team in the NCAA for the seventh consecutive week, dating back to the 2013 preseason USTFCCCA poll. The top-three teams in the country remain unchanged with the Razorbacks at No. 1, ahead of Florida and Texas A&M ranked No. 2 and 3, respectively. Overall, the conference is represented by six teams in this week’s poll with the additions of LSU at No. 16, Ole Miss at No. 23 and Auburn at No. 25. Arkansas will host the NCAA Indoor Championships next weekend (March 8-9) at the Tyson Center for the 11th time in program history. For tickets, visit the Razorback Ticket Center on Razorback Road by Baum Stadium, log on to the online ticket center at ArkansasRazorbacks.com or call 800-982-HOGS (4647). Keep up with Arkansas cross country and track and field through the team’s sport-specific RazorbackTF Facebook and Twitter pages.
Download: MTR Weekly Update_Feb. 26.pdf