LEXINGTON, Ky. – After day two of the 2012 Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships, the top-ranked University of Arkansas men’s track and field team is in second place with 44 points. During Saturday’s competition at the Nutter Field House in Lexington, Ky., the Razorbacks collected 18 points in the heptathlon, 17 points at 3,000 meters and nine points from the high jump. The team was led by runner-up performances from Gunnar Nixon in the heptathlon and Lane Boyer at 3,000 meters.
Heading into Sunday, the Razorbacks trail Florida by six points. Based on its performances in the preliminary rounds of the running events, Arkansas qualified 12 runners of Sunday’s final. In addition to the running finals and pole vault, the team will have scoring chances at 5,000 meters and in both relays to end the meet.
"All of the guys in the heptathlon did an awesome job on the second day," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "It just goes to show what kind of competitors they are. Like I’ve said all season, we have a team that competes hard. You saw it in the heptathlon after an off first day and they bounced back. You saw it in the way we raced all day and got our qualifiers in (to Sunday’s finals). We’re set up well for tomorrow. It’s kind of played out like we thought it would and we know it’s going to come right down to the wire."
Nixon paced the Razorbacks’ efforts in the heptathlon with a second-place showing in his first appearance at the SEC meet. He used a strong second day of competition to finish with 5,841 points. Nixon finished in second place in all three of Saturday’s events, including a pair of personal-best performances in the 60-meter hurdles and pole vault.
Kevin Lazas finished fourth overall in the seven-event competition with a score of 5,773 points. He was aided by a win in the pole vault worth 910 points to his total. Both he and Nixon collected their second NCAA automatic-qualifying scores of the season. In sixth place, Nathanael Franks scored a personal-best 5,424 points with the help of personal bests in the 60-meter hurdles and pole vault. Terry Prentice rounded out the foursome with 5,394 points and a seventh-place showing.
The Razorbacks had three runners finish in scoring position in the 3,000 meters. Boyer was the team’s top performer in second place with a time of 8:13.28. He was followed immediately by teammate David Flynn who was third in a personal-best time of 8:13.85, more than nine seconds faster than his previous best. Rick Elliott was Arkansas’ third scorer in the event with a personal-best time of 8:17.89, good for sixth place.
In its first scoring event of the weekend, Arkansas picked up nine points from its trio of high jumpers. Brede Ellingsen was the team’s top performer in the event with a final clearance of 2.16m/7-1, good for fourth place and five points toward the Razorbacks’ total. Noah Kittelson finished in sixth place with a 2.12m/6-11.5 clearance and Dwayne Golbek rounded out the high jump tied for seventh place and a 2.07m/6-9.5 clearance.
Arkansas took up four of the 10 spots available for Sunday’s final in the mile. Patrick Rono was the third-overall qualifier in the event with a personal-best time of 4:09.75. He, Duncan Phillips and Scott Gillespie finished in the top two of their respective heat to qualify automatically. As the ninth qualifier, Omar Abid was the fourth Razorback to advance to the event final.
The middle-distance crew got another boost in the 800 meters where three runners qualified for Sunday’s final. Leoman Momoh was the top qualifier with a time of 1:50.11 during the preliminary round. Drew Butler and Anthony Lieghio were there third- and fourth-overall qualifiers to advance. All three finished either first or second in their respective heat.
The Razorbacks had two qualifiers advance in both the 200 meters and 400 meters. Marek Niit and Akheem Gauntlett had the two-fastest times during the preliminary heats of the 200 meters. Niit equaled his season best with a time of 21.03. At 400 meters, Neil Braddy and Ben Skidmore were the fifth and ninth qualifiers, respectively, and will move on to Sunday’s two-section final.
In the first running event on the track, Caleb Cross established a new career best of 7.76 to win heat one of the 60-meter hurdles and finish the prelims as the second-fastest qualifier. Cross’ previous best of 7.78 came during his freshman season in 2010. Based on times entering the weekend, he moves into a tie for 11th-fastest time in the nation this season.
The SEC Indoor Championships will air as part of a 90-minute show on ESPNU on Sunday, March 11 at 4 p.m. (CT). The meet will also be streamed live via ESPN3.com Sunday from 12:25-4 p.m. Kentucky will stream live portions of the meet not covered by ESPN3.
Competition continues Sunday at 10 a.m. Scoring opportunities on day three include all running finals and field action in the pole vault. Running event finals are scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
SEC Championships Results – Day 2
200m (prelims)1. Marek Niit – 21.03q2. Akheem Gauntlett – 21.06q
400m (prelims)5. Neil Braddy – 46.53q9. Ben Skidmore – 47.32q12. Travis Southard – 47.65
800m (prelims)1. Leomon Momoh – 1:50.11q3. Drew Butler – 1:52.10q4. Anthony Lieghio – 1:50.25q
Mile (prelims)3. Patrick Rono – 4:09.75q (PR)4. Scott Gillespie – 4:13.44q5. Duncan Phillips – 4:10.41q9. Omar Abdi – 4:13.42q
3,000m (final)2. Lane Boyer – 8:13.283. David Flynn – 8:13.85 (PR)6. Rick Elliott – 8:17.89 (PR)14. Thomas Cattin-Masson – 8:28.9019. Duncan Phillips – 8:43.40
60m Hurdles (prelims)2. Caleb Cross – 7.76q (PR)10. Andrew Pennington – 8.35
Long Jump10. Nii Ayi – 7.18m/23-6.75
High Jump4. Brede Ellingsen – 2.16m/7-16. Noah Kittelson – 2.12m/6-11.57. Dwayne Golbek – 2.07m/6-9.5
Heptathlon (final)2. Gunnar Nixon – 5,841 points A 2. 60m Hurdles – 8.09 (PR) – 959 points 2. Pole Vault – 4.70m/15-5 – 819 points 2. 1,000m – 2:40.95 – 863 points4. Kevin Lazas – 5,773 points A 6. 60m Hurdles – 8.50 – 860 points 1. Pole Vault – 5.00m/16-4.75 – 910 points 8. 1,000m – 2:52.61 – 738 points6. Nathanael Franks – 5,424 points (PR) 8. 60m Hurdles – 8.73 (PR) – 806 points 5. Pole Vault – 4.30m/14-1.25 (PR) – 702 points 1. 1,000m – 2:31.14 – 974 points7. Terry Prentice – 5,394 points 4. 60m Hurdles – 8.41 – 881 points 7. Pole Vault – 4.00m/13-1.5 – 617 points 4. 1,000m – 2:47.73 – 789 points
A – NCAA automatic qualifier || q – qualified for final