Arkansas leads national championships after Day 1; Irwin wins second title
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Arkansas led the competition after Day 1of the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships at the Randal Tyson Track Center. The Razorbacks totaled 30 points in front of 3,178 fans Friday, highlighted by an NCAA-title performance by sophomore Andrew Irwin in the pole vault.
Down to one last attempt to stay in the competition, Irwin responded with a clearance at 18-4.5 and went on to clear the next two heights with first-attempt makes to turn the pressure onto the competition. He finished off the event with a final and school-record clearance of 5.70m/18-8.25. The win marked a successful defense of the NCAA title he won last year as a freshman.
As a program, the Razorbacks now have 56 NCAA event titles. Irwin’s victories in the indoor pole vault are the only such wins in school history. Irwin is the program’s first back-to-back NCAA champion since Alistair Cragg pulled consecutive 3K-5K doubles in 2003 and 2004.
“It’s nerve racking when it comes down to the third attempt,” Irwin said following his win. “Luckily, I was able to get down there and get off the ground really well and make it. Being able to come down on the first attempt and get the first bar out of the way really settles those nerves. To come down and do the same thing on the second attempt for the second bar, that was really nice, too.
“I don’t like going to those third attempts, but sometimes you have to. I got my 10 points, which is going to help our team tremendously. Hopefully, they’ll go out and win more events and get us more points, and we can pull this out.”
Arkansas’ first collection of points came from respective third and fourth-place finishes from Raymond Higgs and Jarrion Lawson in the long jump. Higgs’ best mark of 7.93m/26-0.25 was good for six points toward the team’s total, while Lawson—in his NCAA debut—had a jump just off his teammates’ measurement of 7.92m/26-0 in the fifth round. It was the first 26-foot jump of Lawson’s freshman campaign.
In the final of the 200 meters, seniors Akheem Gauntlett and Marek Niit combined for seven points. Gauntlett was second in his second and finished fourth overall with a time of 20.67 while Niit clocked in at 20.89 for a seventh-place showing. In another NCAA debut for Arkansas, Stanley Kebenei picked up two points with his seventh-place finish at 5,000 meters. He completed his 25 trips around the Tyson track in a time of 13:45.87.
On Day 1 of the heptathlon, Kevin Lazas established three personal-best marks and had two event wins to end Friday with a 98-point lead. He began the day with three consecutive lifetime bests with marks of 6.90 at 60 meters, 24-9.25 in the long jump and 49-2.5 in the shot put. Through four events, Lazas has a total of 3,449 points and leads second-place competitor Japheth Cato of Wisconsin.
Arkansas picked up its first qualifier of the day with Anton Kokorin’s performance at 400 meters. The Razorback senior entered meet as the No. 12 national seed but turned in the sixth-fastest time of 46.14 during Friday’s preliminary round. He will run in Saturday’s two-section final which begins at 6:50 p.m. In the prelims of the 800 meters, Patrick Rono was the fourth-overall qualifier while Tomas Squella had the fastest at-large time to advance to the championship race.