AUSTIN, Texas – The No. 13 University of Arkansas men’s track and field team finished ran to a second-place finish in the sprint-medley relay Friday evening at the 84th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays at Mike A. Myers Track Stadium in Austin. On day three of the annual event, the Razorbacks also qualified their 4×100-meter relay for Saturday’s final.
"We’re putting up some solid performances, no doubt about it," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "We’re running well. For early April, 3:16 (in the sprint-medley relay) isn’t too shabby. We were beat by a good team that was a step ahead of us. I think when we get everyone 100 percent healthy, by the end of the month, we’ll be able to bolster the relays. Right now, we’re getting solid performances from our guys."
Arkansas’ sprint-medley team of LaShawn Butler (21.24), Marek Niit (20.04), Ben Skidmore (47.12) and Duncan Phillips (1:48.10) posted a time of 3:16.83. Phillips used a late kick at the top of the final straight to pass the 800-meter runners from Baylor, TCU and USC. Texas A&M was first in a time of 3:15.18.
In their first race of the day, the Razorbacks clocked the fifth-fastest time during the preliminary heats of the 4×100-meter relay. The foursome of Caleb Cross, Neil Braddy, Butler and Niit combined to get the baton around the track in a time of 40.10. Arkansas qualified seventh overall and advanced to Saturday’s final, scheduled for a 2:05 p.m. (CT) start.
"We’ll see what happens (with the 4×100 relay)," Bucknam said. "We’re in a bit of a grind. Those guys ran at 10:50 this morning, then again around nine tonight and then they have to come back to run tomorrow afternoon. Our guys are putting a lot of work in and pulling some double duty but we think in the long run, it’s going to help us."
The Razorbacks closed out the day’s relay events with a third-place finish in the 4×1,500-meter relay. The team of Cameron Efurd, Omar Abdi, Scott Gillespie and Patrick Russell clocked in at a time of 15:45.29.
Representing Arkansas in the ‘A’ section of the long jump, Raymond Higgs got out to a personal-best mark of 25-11.5 and finished fourth overall. Based on results entering this week of competition, Higgs’ jump is the top freshman effort in the nation this season. The jump came on his second attempt of the day; he passed in the final two rounds.
Cross returned to the track, along with teammate Andrew Pennington, to run in the preliminary rounds of the 110-meter hurdles. Cross finished his heat in a time of 14.52 while Pennington crossed in a time of 14.83 to finish 22nd and 28th overall, respectively. Neither advanced to Saturday’s final.
Rick Elliott finished second in the ‘A’ section of the 3,000-meter steeplechase in a time of 9:06.08, the second-fastest performance of his career. Teammate Layne Nixon finished 13th in 9:55.31. Making his collegiate debut in the 1,500 meters, Eric Fernandez ran to a fifth-place finish in the ‘A’ section of the event. He clocked in at 3:50.35.
In the team’s only other field result of the day, Justin Holmes finished 14th in the ‘B’ section discus. On his only legal mark of the competition, Holmes got the disc out to a mark of 151-1.
Collegiate action on the final day of competition at the 2011 Texas Relays begins Saturday at 11 a.m. In addition to the finals of the 4×100-meter relay, the Razorbacks are scheduled to compete in the 4×200 and distance-medley relays. Arkansas will also have entries in both sections of the high jump. For a full schedule, live results and interactive blog, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.