– Behind three event titles and a score of 152.5 points, the top-ranked University of Arkansas men’s track and field team won the program’s 19th Southeastern Conference indoor title Sunday at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville. On the final day of competition, the Razorbacks collected conference titles from Andrew Irwin
in the pole vault, Tarik Batchelor
in the triple jump and the team’s distance-medley relay.
With with this weekend’s performance, the Arkansas men have now won 56 SEC team titles—20 cross country, 19 indoor track and field, 17 outdoor track and field—since joining the league prior to the 1991-92 season. The win also represents the fourth SEC indoor title for head coach Chris Bucknam
, and his 10th overall at Arkansas. Dating back to the 2011 outdoor meet, the Razorbacks have reeled off six consecutive SEC event championships.
“I love the way our guys competed on the final day,” Bucknam
said. “We have had a really intense schedule this year, probably more intense than what we have had in the past, simply because we have had five meets in a row and scored a lot of those meets, but I think it hardened our shell a little bit mentally.
“To come down on the final day and compete like we did in the DMR and with Andrew Irwin
in the pole vault and Tarik Batchelor
in the triple jump and the way we competed across the board, really impressed me and hopefully we can carry this forward into the national championships.”
Batchelor was the Razorbacks’ first champion of the day, claiming first place in the triple jump with a personal-best mark of 16.53m/54-2.75. Coupled with his SEC long jump title from 2011, the Razorback senior has two conference indoor titles to this credit. Batchelor is the eighth Arkansas jumper to win the event, and the first since back-to-back SEC triple jump wins by Nkosinza Balumbu (2007-08). With his jump Sunday, Batchelor took sole possession of the NCAA lead.
“I did a really good job today of executing what I wanted to do,” Batchelor said. “It’s a big boost for the team. Getting the 10 points for Arkansas is what I came to do. I’ve been training hard for this meet and it just came together today.”
The Razorbacks’ followed up with a win in the pole vault from Irwin who successfully defended his SEC crown from a year ago. The Mount Ida, Ark., native did so in school-record and NCAA-leading fashion with his final clearance of 5.60m/18-4.5. With his indoor and outdoor times from 2012, Irwin has yet to lose an SEC competition. Irwin was down to his final attempt on two occasions with a third-attempt clearance at 18-0.5 and a second-attempt clearance at the final height after passing with one miss at the previous bar.
“It was a long and stressful day since I didn’t make anything on my first attempt,” Irwin said. “I had to battle against the freshman from Tennessee all day. It seems like he’s having a pretty good freshman year. It was fun to go out and compete like that.”
For the 15th time in program history, Arkansas ran to victory in the distance-medley relay. The foursome of Anthony Lieghio
, Nathanael Franks
, Cameron Efurd
and Patrick Rono
combined for a victorious time of 9:50.67. Running stride-for-stride with Henry Lelei of Texas A&M, Rono pulled away over the final 150 meters for the relay win. The Razorback sophomore also anchored last year’s DMR victory in Lexington, Ky.
Arkansas used a collection of double-digit point scores in six events Sunday to create its cushion from the rest of the field. The Razorbacks scored at least 10 points in the 400 meters, 800 meters, mile, 5,000 meters, pole vault and triple jump. The largest group of points came from the mile where Rono, Kemoy Campbell
and Efurd turned in a respective 2-4-6 finish worth 16 points.
In addition to the efforts of Batchelor and Irwin in the triple jump and pole vault, respectively, the Razorbacks had a second scorer in each event. Off his runner-up finish Saturday in the high jump, Anthony May II
finished fourth in the triple jump, while Kevin Lazas
joined Irwin in the scoring position as he tied for fifth place in the pole vault.
won section two of the timed final in the 5,000 meters and finished second overall with his time of 14:03.60, which was worth eight points to the team total. Fourth-place finisher Solomon Haile
added five points with his 14:08.75 showing.
The Razorbacks also benefitted from 12 points in the 800 meters and 11 at 400 meters. Arkansas was led by a pair of freshman in the half-mile event with Tomas Squella
(1:49.14) in third place and Ryan Thomas
(1:49.25) in fourth. With an eighth-place finish, Leoman Momoh
tacked on a point in the event. Another three Razorbacks scored at 400 meters with Anton Kokorin
in third place, Travis Southard
in fifth and Eric Janise
in eighth. Kokorin was the top performer in section one with this time of 46.38 which translated to third place overall.
Arkansas’ first points of the day came from a third-place result by senior Caleb Cross
in the 60-meter hurdles. The Newport, Ark., native finished with a time of 7.72 to add six points to Arkansas’ team total. The final individual scorer for the team was Akheem Gauntlett
at 200 meters. The Razorback senior was fifth overall in the event with a time of 20.84. The performance was worth four points.
“We still have some work to do,” Bucknam said. “We have some things to clean up and we have some guys that are not there yet. All in all, we feel like we got the sickness out of the way and we will have a couple meets of rest and we will be good.”
This weekend’s event was the first of two postseason hosting duties for the Razorbacks. For the 11th time in program history, Arkansas and the Randal Tyson Track Center will serve as the host for the NCAA Indoor Championships. The national meet will be contested March 8-9 in Fayetteville. For tickets, visit the Razorback Ticket Center on Razorback Road by Baum Stadium, log on to the online ticket office at ArkansasRazorbacks.com or call 800/982-HOGS (4647).
The official hash tag of the 2013 SEC Indoor Championships is #SECTF. For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com. Fans can also keep up with Arkansas cross country and track and field through the team’s sport-specific RazorbackTF Facebook and Twitter pages.
1. Arkansas – 152.5 points
2. Florida – 117
3. Texas A&M – 88.5
4. Georgia – 56
5. LSU – 44
6. Auburn – 41
7. Alabama – 40
8. Missouri – 32
8. Tennessee – 32
10. Kentucky – 30
11. Ole Miss – 22
12. South Carolina – 7
5. Akheem Gauntlett
– 20.84 [4 points]
3. Anton Kokorin
– 46.38 [6 points]
5. Travis Southard
– 47.11 
8. Eric Janise
– 55.97 
3. Tomas Squella
– 1:49.14 [6 points]
4. Ryan Thomas
– 1:49.25 
8. Leoman Momoh
– 1:56.40 
2. Patrick Rono
– 4:01.55 [8 points]
4. Kemoy Campbell
– 4:03.57 
6. Cameron Efurd
– 4:06.38 
2. Stanley Kebenei
– 14:03.60 [8 points]
4. Solomon Haile
– 14:08.75 
3. Caleb Cross
– 7.72 [6 points]
--. Niit/Gauntlett/Cross/Braddy – DQ
1. Lieghio/Franks/Efurd/Rono – 9:50.67 [10 points]
1. Andrew Irwin
– 5.60m/18-4.5 [10 points]
5(t). Kevin Lazas
– 5.22m/17-1.5 [3.5]
1. Tarik Batchelor
– 16.53m/54-2.75 [10 points]
4. Anthony May II
– 16.02m/52-6.75 
10. Raymond Higgs