No. 1 Arkansas Leads Nation In NCAA Qualifiers
NEW ORLEANS – Fresh off their 100th conference victory the No. 1 Arkansas men’s track and field team check in at No. 1 in the latest USTFCCCA polls. The Razorbacks lead the nation in NCAA qualifiers securing 12 opportunities to score at the 2016 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship in Birmingham, Ala. on March 11-12.
Ranked 10th in the first rankings release on Jan. 6, Arkansas has since seen the progress in the development of both its veteran and new student-athletes. The Razorbacks last won the national indoor championship in 2013 collecting points from 15 of their 18 qualifiers.
Bowerman Watch List selection Jarrion Lawson leads the Razorback charge as the NCAA co-leader in the long jump. Lawson holds the fifth best performance in NCAA history with his PR of 8.39m/27-6.5 which won the senior a national indoor long jump title in 2014. In addition to his performance in the field Lawson is also a major contributor on the track qualifying for nationals in the 60-meter dash and as a member of the 4×400-meter relay team.
400-meter specialists Obi Igbokwe, Jamarco Stephen and Marqueze Washington who all have times under 47 seconds this season make up the remaining three quarters of the 4×400 crew.
A sprinter out of The Woodlands, Texas Igbokwe was one of only four freshman to gain entry into the 400 for the NCAA Indoor Championship. Along with Igbokwe, Washington will also compete in the 400-meter dash on the national stage. The transfer out of Arkansas Baptist has medaled in every championship in which he’s competed as a Razorback and looks to earn individual gold in the quarter mile race. Washington currently has the fourth fastest time in the NCAA with his 45.72 from the Arkansas Qualifier.
Arkansas’s depth in sprints allowed for four-time relay All-American, Kenzo Cotton to shift focus this season to individual pursuits. Cotton picked up two NCAA qualifiers for the Razorbacks clocking top 10 times in the 60 and 200-meter dashes. The sophomore sensation score 11 points this past weekend for the Razorbacks at the SEC Indoor Championship with a bronze medal in the 60-meter dash and a fourth place performance at 200 meters.
From sprints through to distance Arkansas will have representation in all of the track event groups except the hurdles.
2015 USATF Junior 800-meter champion Carlton Orange secured his spot at the national meet in his first foray into the event at the collegiate level. Orange ran a personal best of 1:47.38 at the Razorback Invitational which is one of the 12 best performances in the country by a collegian.
Senior Gabe Gonzalez will represent Arkansas distance as an NCAA top 10 entry in the 5,000-meter run. Coached by former Arkansas distance standout Seneca Lassiter in high school Gonzalez understands the magnitude of carrying the torch for the Razorbacks in the longer events. The Northwest Arkansas native has a PR in the 5K of 13:45.98 which is the second best performance in the SEC this season.
Historically strong in distance and in jumps Arkansas picked up three more NCAA qualifiers in the field events in addition to Lawson.
Horizontal jumpers Clive Pullen (triple jump) and Andreas Trajkovski (long jump) secured personal best marks in their respective events which granted them entry to the NCAA meet.
No stranger to competing at the national level, Pullen has improved his best triple jump mark by almost a foot since his seventh place finish at the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Championship. A native of Kingston, Jamaica Pullen jumped a new personal best at the conference meet to pick up 10 points for Arkansas.
Unknown around the Division I circuit Trajkovski punched his ticket to Birmingham on his first attempt at the SEC Indoor Championships springing off the board and onto the NCAA top 10 with a mark 7.87m/25-10. The 25 foot leap earned the Danish jumper a silver medal in his SEC debut.
Part of Arkansas’s crew of SEC individual champions, high jumper Ken LeGassey completes the Razorback 12 heading to NCAAs next week. LeGassey entered the conference championship as the leader and backed up his abilities with a clearance of 2.19/7-2.25 to claim the high jump crown.
(2) 60m – Kenzo Cotton (6.62), Jarrion Lawson (6.62)
(1) 200m – Kenzo Cotton (20.66)
(2) 400m – Obi Igbokwe (46.29), Marqueze Washington (45.72)
(1) 800m – Carlton Orange (1:47.38)
(1) 5,000m – Gabe Gonzalez (13:45.98)
(1) 4x400m – Obi Igbokwe, Jamarco Stephen, Marqueze Washington, Jarrion Lawson (3:05.35)
(1) High Jump – Ken LeGassey (2.19m/7-2.25)
(2) Long Jump – Jarrion Lawson (8.17m/26-9.75), Andreas Trajkovski (7.87m/25-10)
(1) Triple Jump – Clive Pullen (16.55m/54-3.75)