18 set for NCAA prelims

FAYETTEVILLE – No. 25 Arkansas Razorback men’s track and field will be represented by 18 student-athletes in 13 events at the NCAA West preliminary rounds, May 27-29, it was released on Friday. The University of Texas will host the event at Mike A. Myers Stadium.

"Our coaching staff is pleased with the entries we have for the NCAA prelim rounds," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "The 10,000 meters, hurdles and relays will be exciting events for us. Like we have all season, we have a lot of young guys competing for us and competing on a national level is great experience."

For the first time since the 2005 season, Arkansas’ 4×100-meter (No. 15; 40.25) and 4×400-meter (No. 16; 3:08.46) relays have advanced to the NCAA Championships. Freshmen Hunter Bourke, Caleb Cross and Cobi Hamilton and junior LaShawn Butler comprise the sprint relay. Junior Chris Bilbrew, Butler, Cross and sophomore Ben Skidmore make up the mile relay.

Butler will also run the 200 meters (No. 19; 21.02). Skidmore will run the 400 meters (No. 40; 47.25) and freshman Drew Butler will compete in the 800 meters (No. 44; 1:50.03).

In the distance events, juniors Michael Chinchar (No. 28; 3:44.91) and Patrick Russell (No. 41; 3:46.59) will compete in the 1,500 meters. Sophomore Rick Elliott will run the 3,000-meter steeplechase (No. 40; 9:01.87).

Arkansas will have a trio run the 10,000 meters. Freshman Eric Fernandez is ranked No. 5 (28:37.77), freshman Solomon Haile is ranked No. 8 (28:43.35) and junior Lane Boyer is No. 10 (28:52.25).

Cross (No. 18; 13.90) and sophomore Andrew Pennington (No. 40; 14.36) will run the 110-meter hurdles.

In the field events, sophomores Tarik Batchelor (No. 22; 24-9.25) and Terry Prentice (No. 27; 24-8.25) will compete in the long jump and Batchelor (No. 21; 51-0) will triple jump. Freshman Brede Raa Ellingsen (No. 8; 7-2.25) will high jump and junior Luke Laird (No. 27; 214-5) will throw the javelin. Senior Alain Bailey, ranked No. 1 in the NCAA in the long jump (27-4.75), also qualified for the NCAA West prelims but will not compete.

"Alain Bailey will not be competing at the NCAAs in the long jump because of injury," Bucknam said. "The timing is obviously very unfortunate. It’s one of those things where we have to do what’s right for Alain. It was in Alain’s best interest to get the scope and get him on the road to recovery as quick as possible. He has given us a lot of time and effort as a Razorback and we are extremely proud of him in all he has accomplished."

"It was one of those nagging injuries that he had managed very well all year," Bucknam said. "After SECs, we got a precautionary MRI and, unfortunately, it showed that he needed minor orthroscopic surgery. He should be at full speed and jumping in four to five weeks."

Bailey ends his Razorback career as a 2010 NCAA Indoor Champion, a four-time All-American, a six-time SEC Champion and a nine-time All-SEC honoree. He is the 2009 Jamaican National Champion in the long jump and competed on Team Jamaica at the 2009 IAAF World Championships.

A native of Kingston, Jamaica, he won the 2010 SEC Outdoor title in the long jump with a 2010 world-, NCAA- and SEC-leading jump of 27-4.75. His mark ranks No. 2 on Jamaica’s all-time list and No. 5 on Arkansas’ all-time list. Bailey won his sixth SEC individual title and his third-straight title in the outdoor long jump. He also holds titles in the indoor long jump and outdoor high jump.

"It was an honor competing for the greatest jumps school of all time," Bailey said. "I have been a part of some great teams and have accomplished a lot. It’s unfortunate I won’t be competing at NCAAs because I had some big plans for that meet. Fortunately, I will be staying in Fayetteville taking classes and training with the guys."