FAYETTEVILLE – The eighth-ranked University of Arkansas men’s track and field team heads to Austin, Texas, this week for the 2012 NCAA West Preliminary. The three-day event begins Thursday and continues through Saturday at Mike A. Myers Stadium. The Razorbacks lead the NCAA with 38 total qualifiers, including three decathletes that will automatically move on to the NCAA Championships.
Arkansas will have 35 entries-33 individual, two relays-in Austin this weekend. After qualifying rounds, the top 12 in each event will advance to the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships which will be contested June 6-9 in Des Moines, Iowa. The NCAA East Preliminary is also being held this weekend at Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla.
"I’m happy about the number of qualifiers we have this weekend," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "I think it reflects the balance of our team. Obviously, now we have to do something with those 35 entries. I like the way the team has looked this week in practice. I think everyone has recovered from the conference meet and focused on getting down there to do it again."
The Razorbacks are part of a loaded field in Austin that also includes top-ranked Texas A&M, No. 5 Texas, No. 6 Arizona, No. 9 Texas Tech, No. 10 Nebraska, No. 13 USC, No. 14 Arizona State, No. 15 Wisconsin, No. 18 Stanford, No. 20 Kansas, No. 21 Oregon, No. 22 Oklahoma, No. 23 Iowa and No. 24 Baylor.
With the exception of the 3,000-meter steeplechase, 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters, each running event will feature two rounds of competition this weekend. Each field event will take the top-12 competitors after one round of qualifying. The Razorbacks have at least one competitor in 16 of 20 events, including a team-high four entries at 400 meters and three qualifiers in the 800 meters, 5,000 meters, 110-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles, high jump and long jump.
Kevin Lazas, Gunnar Nixon and Terry Prentice have already secured spots at the NCAA Championships based on their respective decathlon scores during the season. With three in the decathlon field, Arkansas will have the most multi-event competitors at the national meet. Lazas and Prentice have also qualified for the West Preliminary with Lazas in the pole vault and long jump and Prentice in the 110-meter hurdles and long jump.
"We have to treat each round like a final," Bucknam said. "Nothing is easy and there are no givens. We are now into the first and second rounds of the NCAA meet so you have to treat every prelim, every jump, every effort like it’s the final. That’s the only way you’re going to get there because somebody else is treating it that way."
With the release of the May 21 USTFCCCA national poll, Arkansas enters the preliminary rounds as the No. 8 team in the country. The Razorbacks are one of six top-10 teams competing in Austin this weekend. Overall, 15 of the top 25 teams this week are part of the NCAA West Preliminary. Arkansas is the only team from the SEC in the region.
Meet coverage for the 2012 NCAA West Preliminary will including live results and interactive blog which begins at 1 p.m. (CT) each day. For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
NCAA West Preliminary Entries(number represents event ranking among West Preliminary qualifiers)200m19. Marek Niit, 20.81
400m5. Akheem Gauntlett, 45.5710. Neil Braddy, 46.0322. Ben Skidmore, 46.5035. Travis Southard, 46.88
800m25. Leoman Momoh, 1:48.7330. Anthony Lieghio, 1:49.2536. Drew Butler, 1:49.43
1,500m11. Duncan Phillips, 3:43.1432. Patrick Rono, 3:46.30
5,000m23. Lane Boyer, 14:01.8440. Solomon Haile, 14:09.8143. Eric Fernandez, 14:10.10
10,000m29. Lane Boyer, 29:29.5236. Eric Fernandez, 29:34.54
110m Hurdles10. Caleb Cross, 13.7128. Kyle Dunn, 14.1542. Terry Prentice, 14.28
400m Hurdles7. Caleb Cross, 50.3021. Kyle Dunn, 51.2638. Hunter Bourke, 51.95
3,000m Steeplechase11. David Flynn, 8:49.2013. Rick Elliott, 8:51.03
4x100m Relay5. Cross/Gauntlett/Braddy/Niit, 39.23
4x400m Relay2. Niit/Gauntlett/Skidmore/Braddy, 3:02.47
High Jump10. Brede Ellingsen, 2.18m/7-1.7512. Noah Kittelson, 2.17m/7-1.521. Dwayne Golbek, 2.15m/7-0.5
Pole Vault1. Andrew Irwin, 5.72m/18-9.2543. Kevin Lazas, 5.15m/16-10.75
Long Jump1. Raymond Higgs, 8.36m/27-5.2524. Kevin Lazas, 7.55m/24-9.2525. Terry Prentice, 7.54m/24-9
Discus35. Justin Holmes, 53.76m/176-4
Javelin38. Luke Laird, 63.97m/209-10