DES MOINES, Iowa – The No. 7 University of Arkansas men’s track and field team posted a top-10 national finish Saturday at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa. The Razorbacks finished tied for 10th at the national meet with 25 points. The team scored 22 of its points on the final day of competition, aided by two runner-up performances by Dorian Ulrey and Marek Niit. This is the second top-10 national outdoor finish for head coach Chris Bucknam.
"This was a great way for us to end the season," Bucknam said. "We’re knocking on the door. It was a very good final day for us. We competed hard in the finals to get those points. You always want more and you can always look back to see where you could score, but I feel confident with the where the program is going. This has been a good year, but we’re going to keep plugging away because the goal is to get up on the podium."
The Razorbacks began their day with a runner-up performance by Ulrey in the 1,500 meters. The senior distance runner crossed in a time of 3:43.06, giving the team its first eight points of the championship. This marks the top outdoor finish for Ulrey at the national meet as a Razorback. He finished fourth in the event in 2009, his first year in an Arkansas jersey.
Niit led a 2-7 finish for the Razorbacks in the finals of the 200 meters. As he did at the SEC meet in May, Niit used a charge down the stretch to get into the race. He crossed the line in second place with a time of 20.38, the fifth-fastest performance at 200 meters in school history. Senior teammate LaShawn Butler added two points with his seventh-place finish. He clocked in at 20.61. Arkansas picked up 10 points in the race.
In the final event of the weekend, the 4×400 relay team of Ben Skidmore (46.4), Niit (45.28), Travis Southard (45.99) and Neil Braddy (45.61) combined for a fifth-place finish, good for a final four points. The foursome posted a time of 3:03.59, the third-fastest relay performance in school history. This will represent the first All-America honor for an Arkansas’ mile relay since the 2000 season.
The Razorbacks’ other three points during the NCAA Championships came from a seventh- and eighth-place finish in the long jump Thursday by Tarik Batchelor and Raymond Higgs, respectively. Arkansas’ other top-10 finish under Bucknam came in 2009 when the team finished ninth.
The USTFCCCA is scheduled to release the 2011 outdoor All-America list Monday. The top eight finishers at the NCAA Championships in each event-regardless of nationality-will be named All-America, while places 9-16 will be recognized as second-team All-America.
With the collegiate season in the books, several Razorbacks will turn their attention to national and international competition during the summer months. The USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships will be held June 23-26 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. The junior national championships will be held concurrently. For more information and continued coverage, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
NCAA Championships – Day 4 Results
1,500 Meters2. Dorian Ulrey – 3:43.06
200 Meters2. Marek Niit – 20.387. LaShawn Butler – 20.61
4x400M Relay5. Ben Skidmore/Marek Niit/Travis Southard/Neil Braddy – 3:03.59