Another big leap for Higgs

By: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Published: Friday, June 13, 2014
Arkansas long jumper Raymond Higgs competes at the 2014 NCAA Track and Field West Preliminary at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville.
Photo by Michael Woods
Arkansas long jumper Raymond Higgs competes at the 2014 NCAA Track and Field West Preliminary at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville.

Arkansas senior Raymond Higgs knows how to score at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Higgs took third in the long jump Thursday night at the NCAA meet in Eugene, Ore., with a leap of 25-2 1/2 before an announced crowd of 9,903 at Oregon's Hayward Field.

It marked the fourth consecutive year Higgs has scored at the outdoor nationals. He took second last year, third in 2012 and eighth in 2011.

"I'm proud of Raymond for his effort in some tough conditions because the wind was swirling," Arkansas Coach Chris Bucknam said. "He's been a great competitor for us. That consistency goes a long way in life and in this sport."

Higgs' six points moved the Razorbacks into 12th place in the men's standings.

Higgs, who will compete in the triple jump Saturday, earned his fifth All-America honor, including a third-place finish at the 2013 NCAA Indoor meet. He finished 12th at the his year's NCAA Indoors after sustaining an ankle injury on his first attempt.

"Hopefully he can get one more good jump for us in the triple jump and then move on," Bucknam said. "He's really matured as a person and as an athlete. He's a good team guy."

Arkansas State freshman Roelf Pienaar finished ninth in the long jump at 24-3 1/4. Arkansas senior Anthony May went 23-10 1/4 to finish 15th.

Arkansas junior Stanley Kebenei won his heat of the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 8:48.83 to advance to Saturday's final. Kebenei will run in the 5,000 final tonight.

"Stanley ran just fast enough to get into the steeplechase final," Bucknam said. "He didn't have to expend too much energy, so he should be ready in the 5,000."

Arkansas senior Kevin Lazas, competing with a bulging disc in his back, finished 12th in the decathlon with 7,516 points. He pole vaulted 16-8 3/4 to highlight his Thursday events. He also ran the 110-meter hurdles in 15.34, threw the javelin 188-7, tossed the shot put 120-10 and ran 4:52.11 in the 1,500 meters.

"Kevin competed really hard and gave it his best effort, but he wasn't able to shake off the back injury," Bucknam said. "I hate to see him go out like that because he's scored a lot of points for us at national championships."

Razorbacks freshman Omar McLeod, the NCAA Indoor champion in the 60-meter hurdles, failed to advance to the 110-meter hurdles final. He pulled up in the semifinals and didn't finish.

Bucknam said McLeod aggravated an injury in his right leg Tuesday during practice that caused him to be pulled off of the Razorbacks' relays.

"He made a great effort in the hurdles to try to make the final, but he just had trouble lifting his leg," Bucknam said.

The Razorbacks' 1,600-meter relay team ran 3:04.74 and advanced to the final with the sixth-fastest time. Running on the relay were sophomores Jarrion Lawson and Eric Janise -- who replaced McLeod -- and seniors Travis Southard and Neil Braddy.

Braddy, from Fort Smith Southside, will go for his 13th All-America honor in Saturday's 1,600-meter relay final.

"We got some great efforts by our guys on the relay," Bucknam said. "That's going to be an interesting final."

Arkansas senior Stephanie Brown had the fastest time in the women's 1,500 meters semifinals (4:16.10) to automatically advance to Saturday's final. The eight fastest times all came from Brown's second heat and advanced.

"Stephanie looked really, really good," Arkansas Coach Lance Harter. "She made one move with 300 meters left. I told her to just hold it and don't try to do anything else fancy, and she was able to make a statement."

The Razorbacks' 1,600-meter relay team of freshmen Daina Harper and Regine Williams, sophomore Taylor Ellis-Watson and junior Chrishuna Williams won their heat in 3:29.95 to advance to Saturday's final.

"We probably had the youngest relay team out there on the track, but they did a great job," Harter said. "We're excited about the final."

Arkansas sophomore Alex Gochenour is seventh in the heptathlon through four events with 3,367 points. She ran the 100-meter hurdles in 13.63, high jumped 5-6 1/2, tossed the shot-put 38-2 3/4 and ran 25.34 in the 200 meters.

Arkansas State senior Sharika Nelvis ran 12.76 for the fastest time in the 100-meter hurdles semifinals to advance to the final. She won the 60-meter hurdles at the NCAA Indoor meet.

Red Wolves senior Chris Nicasio ended his college career by taking 20th in the hammer with a throw of 198-11.

In Wednesday night's women's long jump, Kansas sophomore Sydney Conley of Fayetteville finished seventh with a leap of 20-8. Arkansas junior Tamara Myers was 14th in the long jump at 20-2 1/4. Myers will triple jump tonight.

Arkansas junior Patrick Rono will run in the 800 final tonight with senior Noah Kittleson and redshirt freshman Ken LeGassey in the high jump final.

The women's pole vault final tonight will feature four Razorbacks with junior Sandi Morris, senior Danielle Nowell and sophomores Ariel Voskamp and Megan Zimlich.

Senior Grace Heymsfield and junior Jessica Kamilos will run for Arkansas in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Sports on 06/13/2014