FAYETTEVILLE – In his first competition since winning the NCAA indoor title, Andrew Irwin opened his outdoor campaign with a school-record performance in the pole vault Saturday. Overall, the No. 5 University of Arkansas men’s track and field team began its outdoor season with five event victories at the Arkansas Spring Invitational in Fayetteville. In addition to Irwin’s performance, the Razorbacks collected wins at 100 meters, 800 meters and 4×100 and 4×400 relays.
"We had a beautiful day for a track meet and a lot of good competition," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "I’m really pleased with today. It turned into a really good opening meet for us. We got through unscathed and everyone, across the board, had a good day. Overall, I’m very pleased with this opener. I think having a bit of a break after the indoor meet gave the kids some time to catch their breath after a pretty intense indoor season. We tried to keep it loose and ended up with some nice performances."
Irwin finished the meet with a school-record clearance of 5.60m/18-4.5, eclipsing the previous school mark of 5.55m/18-2.75 set by Jeremy Scott in 2004. With the victory and school record already secured, Irwin took three shots at a would-be American junior record of 5.72m/18-9.25. Irwin now owns the indoor and outdoor school marks and becomes the fourth Razorback in program history to clear 18 feet.
"I wasn’t really expecting to jump this high today," Irwin said. "I was using a short approach but everything just really clicked today. It took me a little bit to get my run dialed in when I started practicing outdoors. The depth perception was a little off so it took me a little bit to get used to that but I got my run dialed in and was ready to go today."
Arkansas’ first win of the day came from its 4×100-meter relay team of Caleb Cross, Akheem Gauntlett, Ben Skidmore and Marek Niit. The Razorbacks clocked a time of 39.42 to begin its outdoor season. In the final event on the track, the team added a bookend victory with a first-place performance in the 4×400-meter relay. The foursome of Niit, Gauntlett, Skidmore and Travis Southard held off Iowa for the win in a time of 3:06.45.
Niit was a three-time winner Saturday with the addition of his showing in the 100 meters. The Razorback junior crossed the finish line in a wind-legal time of 10.19. The time represents a national record for his native country of Estonia. Niit finished just .02 off his all-time best of 10.17, a wind-aided mark during last year’s SEC Championships.
Running in the seeded section of the 800 meters, Patrick Rono was the only competitor to dip below the 1:50 barrier. He used a surge over the final 150 meters to seal the victory in a time of 1:49.64. With their five victories, the Razorbacks totaled 11 top-three finishes at the Arkansas Spring Invitational including a pair of third-place hurdle efforts from Caleb Cross. He had a time of 52.08 in the 400-meter hurdles, shaving nearly two seconds off his previous best in the event.
The Arkansas Spring Invitational is the first of three home meets for the Razorbacks this season to go along with the John McDonnell Invitational (April 20-21) and Arkansas Twilight (May 4).
Arkansas will spend the next two weekends on the road with the Stanford Invitational (April 6-7) in Palo Alto, Calif., and the Arizona Tri-Meet (April 13-14) in Tempe, Ariz. For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Arkansas Spring Invitational100m1. Marek Niit – 10.193. Akheem Gauntlett – 10.41
200m5. Ben Skidmore – 21.43
400m6. Leoman Momoh – 47.49
800m (seeded section)1. Patrick Rono – 1:49.646. Thomas Cattin-Masson – 1:51.88
800m16. Scott Gillespie – 1:55.46
1,500m (seeded section)3. Anthony Lieghio – 3:47.717. David Flynn – 3:51.628. Rick Elliott – 3:53.279. Lane Boyer – 3:54.0910. Cameron Efurd – 3:54.1211. Drew Butler – 3:59.3012. Layne Nixon – 3:59.78
110m Hurdles3. Caleb Cross – 14.145. Kyle Dunn – 14.459. Gunnar Nixon – 14.8011. Terry Prentice – 14.8212. Andrew Pennington – 14.8218. Kevin Lazas – 15.5019. Auston Chen – 15.5922. Nathanael Franks – 15.64
400m Hurdles3. Caleb Cross – 52.08 (PR)4. Kyle Dunn – 52.116. Andrew Pennington – 52.499. Gunnar Nixon – 53.0112. Hunter Bourke – 53.1018. Travis Southard – 54.32
4x100m1. Cross/Gauntlett/Skidmore/Niit – 39.42
4x400m1. Niit/Gauntlett/Skidmore/Southard – 3:06.458. Cross/Dunn/Momoh/Franks – 3:16.2714. Chen/Gillespie/Prentice/Lazas – 3:20.1321. Bourke/Pennington/Rono/Braddy – 3:26.81
Triple Jump5. Phillip Butler – 14.27m/46-10
High Jump3. Noah Kittelson – 2.14m/7-0.254. Brede Ellingsen – 2.11m/6-11310. Dwayne Golbek – 2.06m/6-9
Pole Vault1. Andrew Irwin – 5.60m/18-4.55. Kevin Lazas – 5.00m/16-4.7518. Terry Prentice – 4.25m/13-11.2519. Nathanael Franks – 4.10m/13-5.25
Shot Put13. Justin Holmes – 14.35m/47-1
Discus (seeded section)9. Justin Holmes – 48.26m/158-4
Discus (from Friday evening)6. Nathanael Franks – 43.54m/142-107. Marlon Dwyer – 42.96m/140-118. Auston Chen – 42.60m/139-99. Kevin Lazas – 40.28m/132-212. Gunnar Nixon – 39.46m/129-513. Terry Prentice – 38.74m/127-1 (PR)
Hammer Throw (from Friday evening)9. Marlon Dwyer – 42.95m/140-1112. Justin Holmes – 40.16m/131-9
Javelin3. Luke Laird – 62.36m/204-7