Arkansas earns first-place tie with Minnesota at John McDonnell Invitational
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Second-ranked Arkansas collected five wins on its way to a first-place tie in the team standings Saturday at the John McDonnell Invitational. The Razorbacks were paced by two wins by Tarik Batchelor in the long jump and triple jump. At the end of the meet, the Razorbacks and No. 22 Minnesota were tied atop the scoreboard with 137 points each.
In addition to Batchelor’s efforts, Arkansas also had first-place performances from Akheem Gauntlett at 200 meters, Marek Niit at 400 meters and Anthony May II in the high jump. Behind Arkansas and Minnesota in the team standings, top-ranked Texas A&M finished third with 129 points, No. 15 Oklahoma was fourth with 73 points, Kansas placed fifth with 62 points and Oklahoma State was sixth with 32 points.
“We got a lot accomplished [Saturday],” head coach Chris Bucknam said. “We had last week off so we were shaking the rust off a little bit. We’ve been working awfully hard and I’m sure I’m speaking for the other coaches, too, because we’re all in the same situation. This month is going to be a heavy work load. It was good to see our 4x1 and 4x4 get around, and everything in between those two events went well. It’s like I said earlier this week, I still believe that no matter what we do, we want to win the meet. I love the fact that there’s finality to the meet and you can see a score.”
Batchelor began his day with a victory in the long jump, getting out to a day’s best mark of 7.90m/25-11 on his third pass down the runway. All three jumps measured for Batchelor were beyond the 25-foot mark. Batchelor returned to the track and needed just one jump to secure a win in the triple jump. On his first jump, he was measured at 51-8.5 (15.76m) which was enough to secure the win. Saturday marked his first long-triple double of the 2013 season, indoor or outdoor.
“I think I did a pretty good job in both events [Saturday],” Batchelor said. “Right now, I’m just starting to get used to doubling up and adding the long jump. I jumped 7.90 (meters) which is a pretty good jump for me coming back and using my left leg again. It was a good competition for me. I’m just trying to get myself back into it and take it in stride.”
Arkansas’ first win of the day came on the infield with a win from May in the high jump. He had a final clearance of 7-1.75 (2.18m) to win the event and help Arkansas to a 1-2 finish with teammate Noah Kittelson in second. With the victory in hand, May took a pair of attempts at 7-3 (2.21m) before passing on his final try at the last bar.
Niit was the Razorbacks’ first winner on the track with his effort at 400 meters. As the team’s only representative in the event, he won section two and was first overall with a winning time of 46.92. Gauntlett used a charge during the final half of the 200 meters to surpass Waymon Storey of Oklahoma and Michael Bryan of Texas A&M at the tape. He finished with a first-place time of 20.79, the fastest 200-meter time by a Razorback this season.
In the first running event of the day, the 4x100-meter team of Gauntlett, Niit, Caleb Cross and Jarrion Lawson combined for a season-best time of 39.51. The effort was worth a second-place finish in the race and based on times entering the weekend, represents the sixth-fastest time in the NCAA this season. It was one of Arkansas' five runner-up finishes during the day.
Along with the 4x100-meter relay team and Kittelson in the high jump, the Razorbacks had second-place results from Gauntlett at 100 meters, Anthony Lieghio at 800 meters and the 4x400-meter relay team of Niit, Gauntlett, Anton Kokorin and Neil Braddy. They finished the meet with a season-best time of 3:07.20.