COLUMBIA, Mo. – The fifth-ranked Arkansas men’s track team scored in three events Saturday to move into first place at the 2013 SEC Outdoor Championships.
The Razorbacks have scored 57 points through seven events. Among day three’s highlights were a runner-up effort by Stanley Kebenei in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, a 3-4-6-7 finish in the long jump and a lifetime-best performance from Jeff Woods in the javelin.
Day three of the conference meet also featured the final heats of preliminary competition. Between the last two days of qualifying rounds, the Razorbacks have advanced seven into event finals Sunday. Arkansas will have scoring opportunities in 13 of the 14 events on the final day of the SEC Championships.
In the final event of the day, Kebenei and teammate David Flynn combined to add 10 points to the Razorbacks’ team total in the steeplechase. Kebenei posted a personal-best time of 8:40.23, taking more than three seconds off his previous best which he ran earlier this year at the Arkansas-Oregon Dual. Flynn finished seventh.
Tarik Batchelor's third-place finish in the long jump was part of a 16-point event for the Razorbacks. The Arkansas senior posted a wind-aided mark of 7.83m/25-8.25 to collect six points. He was followed by teammates Jarrion Lawson in fourth place at 7.76m/25-5.5w, Anthony May II in sixth at 7.63m/25-0.5 and Raymond Higgs in seventh at 7.55m/24-9.25.
Arkansas’ first points of the day came from a third-place finish by Woods in the javelin. He finished the day with a personal-best throw of 69.01m/226-5, adding nearly 19 feet to his previous best at Arkansas. Woods entered the weekend with the ninth-best throw among SEC competitors.
“I’ve been battling a little bit of a groin injury all year so I’ve been resting up and trying to get healed,” Woods said. “I knew I had it in me because I was feeling good and healthy. The conditions were good. I knew I was eighth or ninth coming in which would be one or two points but I was able to get six. I’m just happy I was able to help the team.”
The Razorbacks picked up two event qualifiers in the first preliminary race of the day with the efforts of Kemoy Campbell and Patrick Rono at 1,500 meters. They were the top two overall qualifiers for Sunday’s final. Campbell had a time of 3:49.14 with Rono right behind him in 3:49.20. Campbell is also entered in the 5,000 meters.
Caleb Cross advanced to his second final of the weekend with his showing in the prelims of the 110-meter hurdles. The Razorback senior was second in his heat and finished the round as the fourth-fastest qualifier with his time of 13.97. In addition to possible relay duties Sunday, Cross will also be competing in the final of the 400-meter hurdles. He is the defending SEC champion in that event.
Arkansas’ final qualifier of the day was Akheem Gauntlett who secured automatic placement into the 400-meter final with a victory in his heat Saturday. The Razorback senior clocked a time of 47.16 to finish with the seventh-fastest time during the preliminary heats. Gauntlett is also an expected member of both Razorback relays.
The Razorbacks also will have scoring opportunities in the 5,000 meters, the 4x100- and 4x400-meter hurdles, high jump, pole vault, triple jump and discus. The final day of competition in the field events begins at 1 p.m. at Audrey J. Walton Stadium with running finals starting at 3 p.m.