WALNUT, Calif. – The No. 12 University of Arkansas men’s track and field team began competition Friday at the 53rd Mt. SAC Relays, highlighted by nearly five-second personal best by Duncan Phillips in the 1,500 meters. The Razorback junior finished fourth overall and was the second collegiate performer, racing to a time of 3:39.87.
"I’m thrilled right now for Duncan," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "He brought himself back from a serious foot injury a year and a half ago. He’s battled back and done all the right things with his rehab and being tenacious about doing the things it take to be great.
"A year ago, he was just getting back on the track. I think there’s a lot more in there, too. We’ve only been on the track for about a week and being doing some other things on the cross country course. He’s not race sharp yet. He can still drop some time off that last 400 but he’ll get sharper as we go through the next month and as things warm up."
Running in the invitational section of the 1,500 meters, Phillips posted his fastest time in nearly two years. His previous best of 3:44.59 was set during the 2008 season at the John McDonnell Invitational. Based on times entering the weekend, Phillips’ time would lead the SEC and ranked No. 2 in the country.
Earlier in the day, Tom Cattin-Masson led Arkansas’ effort in the university section of the 1,500 meters with a seventh-place overall finish. Running in the opening section of the timed final, he finished fifth in his heat with a time of 3:45.11, besting this previous season best by more than four seconds. Omar Abdi was the Razorbacks’ second performer in the event with a time of 3:51.08, while Scott Gillespie and Patrick Russell finished together at 3:51.95 and 3:51.96, respectively.
In the 110-meter hurdles, Andrew Pennington finished fifth in his heat, and 20th overall, with a time of 14.80. Terry Prentice, running in his home state and in preparation for future work in the decathlon this season, ran to a time of 14.89. He, along with the Razorbacks’ other multi-event athletes, are scheduled to compete in their first decathlon of the year next weekend at the John McDonnell Invitational.
Pennington returned to the track later for a 15th-place finish in the university section of the 400-meter hurdles. Running in heat one, he crossed in a time of 53.33. Originally scheduled to run in the first heat alongside his teammate, Hunter Bourke posted a time of 54.01 in heat two. Chris Bilbrew clocked a time of 1:51.51 in the university section of the 800 meters. He finished sixth in his section and 26th overall. Leoman Momoh finished in 1:57.82.
Arkansas put together a ‘B’ crew for the university section of the 4×400-meter relay. All returning to the track for at least the second time of the day, the foursome of Bilbrew, Momoh, Pennington and Bourke combined for a time of 3:15.08.
The Razorbacks are scheduled to close out competition Saturday with action from LaShawn Butler in the Olympic development section of the 200 meters. Arkansas’ next meet is April 22-23 with the John McDonnell Invitational in Fayetteville. For home meet information, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.