Nkosinza Balumbu punches NCAA ticket
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – No. 3 Arkansas Razorback men’s track and field won eight events to open the 2009 indoor track and field season at Friday’s Arkansas Invitational at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
"This was a good start to the season," head coach Chris Bucknam said. "Our kids performed with a lot of spirit. They were happy to be out there and they had a bounce in their step. We got some energy from the jumpers hitting the NCAA marks. We have a lot of guys running in the Arkansas uniform for the first time tonight. They were excited to get on the track and you could see that in the way they raced tonight."
Leading the pack of winners was senior Nkosinza Balumbu in the triple jump. To take the event win, Balumbu marked a jump of 53-0.75 to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships in March.
"Nkosinza (Balumbu) is amazing," Bucknam said. "He got that auto mark on a short approach, too. Now he can get some rest and get some good workouts in. It was great to see that happen tonight for him. We have a lot of confidence in him."
Senior Daniel Quinn earned a second-place finish in the event. He marked an NCAA provisional-qualifying mark of 50-6.25.
Freshman Tarik Batchelor made his Razorback debut an exciting one. Competing in the long jump, he won the event with an NCAA provisional-qualifying jump of 25-2.75.
Senior J-Mee Samuels won the 60 meters (6.76p/6.80f) and sophomore Chris Bilbrew won the 600 meters (1:18.95).
Arkansas also picked up event wins from newcomers junior Dorian Ulrey (800 meters, 1:51.29), Nate Durham (high jump, 6-8.75) and Ben Skidmore (400 meters, 48.15). All three were making their Razorback debuts on Friday.
Arkansas freshman Eric Fernandez, running unattached, won the 3,000 meters with a time of 8:16.77.
Mychael Stewart, who competed unattached with only outdoor eligibility remaining, finished second in the 60 meters (6.82p/6.85f) and second in the long jump (24-10). His long jump was good enough to qualify him for the U.S. Indoor Championships in February.
For complete results of the Arkansas Invitational and more information about Arkansas track and field, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.