FAYETTEVILLE (UofA) - The No. 1 University of Arkansas men's track and field team closed out the weekend with two victories Saturday during the Tyson Invitational and USA Track & Field Classic at the Randal Tyson Track Center. In the final collegiate event of the night, the Razorbacks ran an NCAA-leading and NCAA automatic-qualifying time in the 4x400-meter relay.
Competing during the USA Track & Field Classic Saturday evening, Arkansas improved upon its national-leading time in the 4x400-meter relay when the foursome of Marek Niit, Akheem Gauntlett, Ben Skidmore and Neil Braddy combined for a time of 3:03.76, the second-fastest time in school history. The NCAA automatic-qualifying time is Arkansas' second of the season. The team's time was just off the collegiate record of 3:03.51 set by Florida in 2005.
"We had a great weekend of competition," sprints coach Doug Case said. "I knew we had a good time in us and would be fast, but I didn't think it would be 3:03. All four guys were really strong. We still have some things to work in preparation for the SEC Championships so we still haven't peaked. I'm really proud of the way we competed all weekend."
The Razorbacks' performance is the 11th-fastest time ever run by a 4x400m team and the No. 2 time in NCAA history, trailing only Florida. Arkansas' time also moves the team ahead of Baylor on the all-time list. Three of the top 11 times have been run at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
In the finals of the 60-meter hurdles, in continuation of the event started Friday during the Tyson Invitational, Caleb Cross tied his season best with a time of 7.80 and finished in fifth place overall. He equaled his time run during the semifinal round.
The Razorbacks had the top-two collegiate performances in the 200 meters from Gauntlett and Niit, respectively. Running in heat two, Gauntlett posted a time of 20.99 to finish in second place overall. He was the only collegian to dip below 21 seconds. Teammate Niit ran to a season-best time of 21.03 to finish in third place.
Anthony Lieghio and Leoman Momoh took the top two spots in the championship section of the 800 meters. Both running personal bests, Lieghio posted a time of 1:48.58 while Momoh crossed the finish right behind in a time of 1:48.81. The Razorbacks also had top-10 finishes from Patrick Rono (1:49.54) in sixth place and Drew Butler (1:49.87) in seventh place.
Duncan Phillips made his indoor mile debut and finish in sixth place in the championship section of the event. He clocked in at 4:01.03, the third-fastest time of his career. Teammate Scott Gillespie ran a season-best 4:02.54 to finish in eighth place.
In the championship section of the high jump, Brede Ellingsen was the top collegiate performer and finished in third place overall. The Razorback junior had a final clearance of 2.21m/7-3 to establish a new personal best, surpassing the mark he set for himself in the 2010 season. Based on clearances entering the weekend, Ellingsen now holds a top-15 national mark in the high jump.
Andrew Irwin finished second overall and was the top collegiate performer in the Olympic development section pole vault. With two third-attempt clearances to stay alive, the Razorback freshman had a final clearance of 5.36m/17-7 and finished second only on misses. Teammate Kevin Lazas finished fifth in the event with a 5.06m/16-7.25 clearance.
The Tyson Invitational marked the final competition for Arkansas before the start of its championship season. The 2012 SEC Indoor Championships will be held Feb. 24-26 at the Nutter Field House in Lexington, Ky. For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
USA Track & Field Classic
5. Caleb Cross - 7.80 (SB)
1. Arkansas [Niit, Gauntlett, Skidmore, Braddy] - 3:03.76A
Pole Vault (Olympic development)
2. Andrew Irwin - 5.36m/17-7
5. Kevin Lazas - 5.06m/16-7.25
Tyson Invitational - Day 2 Results
2. Akheem Gauntlett - 20.99
3. Marek Niit - 21.03 (SB)
57. Terry Prentice - 23.68
1. Anthony Lieghio - 1:48.58 (PR)
2. Leoman Momoh - 1:48.81 (PR)
6. Patrick Rono - 1:49.54
7. Drew Butler - 1:49.87
14. Thomas Cattin-Masson - 1:55.60
32. Georg Eberhardt - 1:55.47 (PR)
10. Lane Boyer - 8:14.23
11. David Flynn - 8:23.54
26. Layne Nixon - 8:38.04
5. Arkansas 'B' [Dunn, Southard, Nixon, Franks] - 3:11.75
High Jump (championship)
3. Brede Ellingsen - 2.21m/7-3 (PR)
8. Noah Kittelson - 2.11m/6-11
11. Dwayne Golbek - 2.06m/6-9
Pole Vault (college)
6. Stuart Sparks - 4.76m/15-7.25
7. Justin Holmes - 16.85m/55-3.5
14. Marlon Dwyer - 14.94m/49-0.25
A - NCAA automatic qualifier