Razorback Track and Field Finish as NCAA Champs

Courtesy University of Arkansas Athletics Department

FAYETTEVILLE – The No. 1 University of Arkansas men’s track and field team won the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships in front of its home fans Saturday evening at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville. The win gives the Razorbacks their 20th NCAA indoor team title and 41st national crown overall. Saturday’s victory is Arkansas’ first NCAA win since 2006, and the program’s first under head coach Chris Bucknam.

Arkansas’ winning total of 74 points is the most by any team since the Razorbacks scored 94 points on their way to the 1994 title. The Razorbacks track and field team have now won five of their 20 NCAA indoor titles in Fayetteville. Arkansas previously hoisted the first-place trophy in their home facility at the 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2006 national meets.

The Razorbacks won two national event titles Saturday, including a collegiate-record performance by the team’s 4×400-meter relay and a school-record effort from Kevin Lazas in the heptathlon. Over the course of the two-day NCAA meet, Arkansas collected three titles with Andrew Irwin’s victory in the pole vault Friday evening. In addition to increasing the program’s team-title haul, the Razorbacks now have 58 NCAA event titles.

“To get this done, you need a special group of athletes,” Bucknam said. “The coaching staff had everything in place. I’m really proud of how these guys got it together. We followed the plan, and we came in here and got it done. We just hope our alumni are proud. We look at all the national championship banners in the ceiling, and our number one goal was to make them proud and show them that we were back. With the 4×400-meter relay, we just wanted to finish it off right, and we got that collegiate record this time.”

In the final event of the weekend, the Razorbacks’ 4×400-meter relay team of Neil BraddyCaleb CrossAkheem Gauntlett and Marek Niit combined for an NCAA-record time of 3:03.50, just dipping below the old mark of 3:03.51 set in 2005 by a Florida team that included world-record holder Kerron Clement. Last year, the team of Braddy, Gauntlett, Niit and Ben Skidmore ran the second-fastest—now No. 3—time by a collegiate relay team.

For the second time this weekend, the Razorbacks successfully defended an NCAA title. Arkansas was the reigning national event champion with its performance last season in Nampa, Idaho. With Saturday’s result, the program now has two NCAA titles in the 4×400-meter relay.

The Razorbacks entered the relay event with the team title already clinched by way of a runner-up finish from junior transfer Kemoy Campbell at 3,000 meters. The long-distance standout put on a late push to post a time of 7:46.95. Originally award third place, Campbell’s finish was elevated to runner-up status when the runner that finish just ahead of him, Eric Jenkins of Northeastern, was later DQ’d.

The 3K performance added eight points to the team’s overall total and gave the Razorbacks an insurmountable 13-point lead heading into the 4×400-meter relay. Campbell began the week as the No. 17 national entry at 3,000 meters and only competed in the race because two runners ahead of him on the qualifying list scratched. In Saturday’s field of 16, the Manchester, Jamaica, native entered with the 15th-fastest time but far surpassed his seeding.

The team’s first points of the day came from the win by Lazas in the heptathlon. With Saturday’s performance, Lazas improved upon his own school record which he first established earlier this year at the Razorback Team Invitational. His score of 6,175 makes Lazas the No. 3 scorer in collegiate history and represents the No. 4 all-time collegiate score. Lazas, who entered the weekend with a lifetime best of 6,042, set personal bests in four of seven events this weekend.

“I gave it all that I had,” Lazas said. “If I didn’t win I would have been mad, but there’s nothing I could have done. I didn’t have anything left, I gave it my all. I ran every step of the race; I even fell at the finish line. I was hurting so when the scores came up, I got a spark of energy and cheered for a little bit then just laid back down. I gave it my all and would have been a little upset if I didn’t win, but overall I am really satisfied.”

Lazas began day two of the heptathlon with a personal-best performance in the 60-meter hurdles. Running in the second of four sections, the Razorback junior clocked in at 8.27 to add 915 points to his overall total. The Brentwood, Tenn., native extended his lead with a final clearance of 5.40m/17-8.5 in the pole vault and took a 50-point lead over Japheth Cato of Wisconsin.

His lead equated a lead of approximately 4.5 seconds in the 1,000 meters. Lazas gutted out a time of 2:49.00, within the allowable cushion behind Cato who finished in 2:45.26. When the scores flashed on the scoreboard, Lazas had clinched his first NCAA event title by 10 points, the smallest margin of victory in the event since it was introduced to NCAA competition in 2004.

Just before the final of the 3,000 meters, senior Tarik Batchelor collected six points with a third-place finish in the triple jump. Having posted a pair of fouls on his first two attempts, Batchelor responded with a qualifying mark on his third pass down the runway to advance to the final. He finished with a best measure of 16.44m/53-11.25. Arkansas picked up another field point from an eighth-place finish by Anthony May II in the high jump where he equaled his lifetime best with a final clearance of 2.23m/7-3.75.

Arkansas first points of the day on the track came from Anton Kokorin at 400 meters. The Razorback senior finished sixth overall in the two-section final with a personal-best time of 46.14, good for three points toward the team title. Kokorin entered the weekend as the 12th-fastest qualifier in the field of 16. The Razorbacks also picked up five points from its pair of runners at 800 meters. In his NCAA final debut, Tomas Squella was the team’s top performer with a sixth-place finish in 1:49.20. Patrick Rono followed in seventh at 1:50.84.

This weekend marks the 11th national indoor hosting duties for Arkansas. The program first welcomed the NCAA meet in 2000 and remained the host through the 2008 season. Prior to this year, the last time the Razorbacks hosted was 2010. A tape-delay broadcast of the national meet will air March 17 at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.

Saturday Results

Team Standings (top 10)
1. ARKANSAS – 74 points
2. Florida – 59
3. Wisconsin – 33
4. Texas A&M – 30
5. Texas Tech – 28
6. Oregon – 22
6. Arizona – 22
8. Oklahoma State – 20
9. Three tied with 19

Individual Events
400 Meters
5. Anton Kokorin – 46.09 (PR – prev: 46.14) [4 points]

800 Meters
6. Tomas Squella – 1:49.20 [3 points]
7. Patrick Rono – 1:50.84 [2]

3,000 Meters
2. Kemoy Campbell – 7:46.95 [8 points]

4x400m Relay
1. Niit/Braddy/Cross/Gauntlett – 3:03.50 (CR – prev: 3:03.51, Florida, 2005) [10 points]

High Jump
8. Anthony May II – 2.23m/7-3.75 (t-PR) [1 point]

Triple Jump
3. Tarik Batchelor – 16.44m/53-11.25 [6 points]
15. Anthony May II – 15.43m/50-7.5

Heptathlon (Final)
1. Kevin Lazas – 6,175 points (SR – prev: 6,042) [10 points]
7. 60m Hurdles – 8.27 (PR – prev: 8.35) [915 points]
1. Pole Vault – 5.40m/17-8.5 [1,035]
10. 1,000 Meters – 2:49.00 [776]

CR – collegiate record; SR – school record

The No. 3 University of Arkansas women’s track and field team scored in all six of its scoring opportunities Saturday on their way to a fourth-place finish at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks finished the two-day national competition with a program-high 42.5 points and a third top-five NCAA indoor finish in as many years.

This weekend’s finish is Arkansas’ sixth top-five performance at the NCAA Indoor Championships, all of which have come under head coach Lance Harter. Prior to the 2013 meet, Arkansas finished in the top five at the 1995, 2000, 2001, 2011 and 2012 national competitions. The team’s 42.5 points is the most scored by an Arkansas team at the NCAA indoor meet, surpassing the total of 37 in 2000. The team scored 34 of its 42.5 points during Saturday’s action.

“We had a great weekend,” Harter said following the meet. “We were seeded third and there was 1.5 points separating second and fourth place. We had one great performance after another from the pole vault, and obviously, our quarter milers set a precedent for us and our triple jumper was the real upset. Tamara Myers was the ninth qualifier for the final and popped a big jump to move up to fourth. Those were the points that were critical.”

In the final event of the competition, the Razorbacks’ 4×400-meter relay team of Martine BorgeGwendolyn FlowersRegina George and Sparkle McKnight combined for a time of 3:30.35. Arkansas won its heat but finished second overall in the three-second final with Oregon posting the fastest time—by 0.13 seconds—in the opening heat. The time for Arkansas is the third fastest in school history.

Earlier in the evening, George and McKnight collected 10 points for the team with respective second- and seventh-place finishes in the 400-meter event final. For the second season in a row, George finished the indoor season as the national runner up. She once again lowered her own school record with a time of 51.05, which is tied for the eighth fastest in NCAA history. In her first NCAA event final, McKnight turned in a personal-best time of 52.52 to get seventh-place honors.

“I felt like we had won it when I crossed the finish line,” George said of the 4×400-meter relay after the meet. “The fans were great and the atmosphere had us feeling like we won it. I wish Oregon would have been in our heat, but we had a good race. Overall, I feel like our team did what they had to do and we came out in fourth place this weekend.”

Arkansas started the day with six points from Makeba Alcide in the pentathlon. The Razorback senior posted a total score of 4,327 and tied with Keia Pinnick of Arizona State for the second-highest score but due to head-to-head tiebreaker rules, Alcide earned third-place points. She capped the five-event competition with a personal best at 800 meters of 2:14.05, more than two seconds clear of her previous lifetime best.

Sandi Morris garnered the first top-eight national performance of her collegiate career with a fourth-place result in the pole vault. The transfer from North Carolina began the day with three consecutive clearances and finished the day with a best clearance of 4.35m/14-3.25.

In the final field result of the day for the Razorbacks, Tamara Myers added nearly a foot to her lifetime best and grabbed five points for the team with a fourth-place finish in the triple jump. She squeaked into the final round of jumps as the ninth qualifier after three preliminary attempts. On her fifth pass down the runway, Myers unleashed a mark of 13.36m/43-10, the second-best triple jump in school history. She became just the second woman in school history (Gi-Gi Miller, 2001) to eclipse the 43-foot barrier.

This weekend marks the 11th national indoor hosting duties for Arkansas. The program first welcomed the NCAA meet in 2000 and remained the host through the 2008 season. Prior to this year, the last time the Razorbacks hosted was 2010. A tape-delay broadcast of the national meet will air March 17 at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.

Saturday Results

Team Standings (top 10)
1. Oregon – 56 points
2. Kansas – 44
3. LSU – 43
4. ARKANSAS – 42.5
5. UCF – 30
6. Clemson – 28
7. Arizona – 25
7. Arizona State 25
9. Iowa State – 23
10. Georgia – 22

Individual Events
400 Meters
2. Regina George – 51.05 (SR) (PR – prev: 51.40) [8 points]
7. Sparkle McKnight – 52.52 (PR – prev: 52.77) [2]

4x400m Relay
2. Flower/McKnight/Borge/George – 3:30.35 [8 points]

Pole Vault
4. Sandi Morris – 4.35m/14-3.25 [5 points]

Triple Jump
4. Tamara Myers – 13.36m/43-10 (PR – prev: 42-10.25) [5 points]

3. Makeba Alcide – 4,327 points [6 points]
4. 60m hurdles – 8.45 [1,028 points]
t-3. High Jump – 1.75m/5-8.75 [916]
4. Shot Put – 12.22m/40-1.25 [676]
8. Long Jump – 5.84m/19-2 [801]
4. 800 Meters – 2:14.05 (PR – prev: 2:16.37) [906]

SR – school record; PR – personal best

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