Gilbert earns a spot in the NCAA

FAYETTEVILLE — University of Arkansas junior Tre’Bien Gilbert was a bit slow to get off the starting blocks in his two 110-yard hurdle races at the NCAA track and field prelims this week.

It’s understandable that Gilbert was careful after a false start in the second round of the Western preliminaries last year and was disqualified.

“I was still trying to recover from last year, because I really didn’t want to do it again,” Gilbert said. “But me and Coach [Doug] Case focused on being patient and not panicking between obstacles.

“We like to say every hurdle is in the race, so if the first two aren’t as good, you still have eight more. Anyway, I’m more of a back hurdler, so that’s where I really started to take control.”

Gilbert finished strong and tied his career best 13.41 seconds Friday night at John McDonnell Field to win the hurdles and automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships which took place June 8-11 in Eugene, Ore. .

This is the first time Gilbert has qualified for the NCAA outdoor meet.

“I worked very hard to get back to this position, especially after last year,” he said. “It weighed heavily on me.

“But I know that’s only part of the job. There’s still so much to do at the national championships.”

The top 12 in each West Prelims event qualified for the Nationals, and Gilbert was one of two Razorbacks to progress in the 110 hurdles, along with Matthew Lewis-Banks.

Lewis-Banks, a junior transfer from Indiana State, ran 13.74.

Arkansas junior Phillip Lemonious, who finished third in the 110 hurdles at the NCAA championships last year, fell over the final hurdle on Wednesday night’s first round and failed to advance.

“It was an outstanding performance from Tre’Bien,” Razorbacks coach Chris Bucknam said. “He knows he’s the leader now.

“I’m just really proud of him and I’m proud of his focus. He’s connected and wants to be as good as he can be. He’s looking forward to getting out there and racing.”

Gilbert said he was as happy for Lewis-Banks to progress as he was for himself.

“I’m thrilled for Matty,” Gilbert said. “After Phillip went down it was a big hit for us. So for me and Matty it means a lot to me and Matty.”

Arkansas senior Amon Kemboi qualified in the 5,000m — clocking 13:38.92 for third in his heat and 11th overall — after qualifying in the 10,000m on Wednesday night. He ran 56.5 seconds on the final lap to secure a top-three finish to automatically advance.

“Amon is a stallion,” Bucknam said. “You saw how patient he was in that last lap, where there were still a lot of guys in it.

“He was confident in his own abilities and didn’t worry. You could see his intelligence and his experience. He made the decision at the right time.

“It opened up for him, and he was able to pull through and have a nice finish.”

The Razorbacks also advanced in the 1,600-meter relay with junior Ayden Owens-Delerme, rookie Brandon Battle, second Jeremy Farr and junior James Milholen running a season best 3:03.95.

Arkansas State University senior Bennett Pascoe, a Conway native, advanced in the 3,000-meter steeplechase running 8:39.46 to take second place in his heat and 10th overall.

Pascoe also competed at the NCAA championships last year.

“These big encounters are a whole different animal, so it’s hard to replicate that during the season,” Pascoe said. “But after last year, I knew I belonged.

“This second time I was a little hungrier, a little more excited, a little more ready. It’s great to be going to nationals again.”

Arkansas junior SEC steeplechase champion Andrew Kibet set a scorching pace early in Friday night’s race to open a huge lead, but he gradually faded and finished 41st in 9 : 10.70.

“I didn’t know how fast I was going until I started falling,” Kibet said. “It didn’t go as planned. I just died at the end.”

Arkansas senior Roman Turner took a tough break in the 100 when he finished tied for 12th with second-placed Texas A&M student Devon Achane — who also plays running back for the Aggies — but n did not advance.

Turner and Achane both finished fifth in their runs and ran 10.117, although Turner’s time was run with a tailwind of 0.6 – below the legal limit of 2.0 meters per second for record purposes – and Achane ran with a wind of 2.3.

Officials discussed the possibility of having Turner and Achane participate in a run-off race, but ultimately went with the rules, which state that the tiebreaker goes to the athlete with the fastest qualifying time from the season before the competition.

Achane advanced, thanks to his qualifying time of 10.12 to Turner’s 10.31.

“They’re going in the best time of the season? Doesn’t that make sense,” Bucknam said of how it was determined Achance advanced in Turner’s place. “I thought it was supposed to be a one-on-one competition. I don’t get it.”

ASU sophomore Frank Massey narrowly missed high jump progression. He cleared 7-0 1/2 to tie in 13th place.

The Razorbacks crashed in the 400 relay when they failed to finish after Owens-Delerme – running the third leg – took off quickly and didn’t get the relay from Connor Washington.

Lemonious, waiting to perform the anchor leg of the relay, fell to his knees when he saw that the stick had not been exchanged.

“I think we were right in that race,” Bucknam said. “I think it was a qualifying team, but it was only the second time these guys had raced in order.”

Friday’s events concluded the men’s portion of the Western preliminaries with the women’s events continuing today.

Gilbert said after seeing what happened on the 400 relay it gave him extra motivation for the hurdles to make sure he progressed

“It’s going to go fast in Eugene, but I increase it when I’m around good people, dogs,” Gilbert said. “We’re all dogs there, so I think I can go and win it.”

Program

Today’s schedule for women’s events at the NCAA West track and field preliminaries at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville. The meeting ends today.

FIELD EVENTS

EVENT TIME

Disc 1 p.m.

High jump 2:30 p.m.

Triple jump 6 p.m.

CURRENT EVENTS

EVENT TIME

Relay 400 meters 5 p.m.

1500 meters 5:15 p.m.

3000 meters steeplechase 5:40 p.m.

100 meters hurdles 6:15 p.m.

100 meters 6:35 p.m.

400 meters 6:50 p.m.

800 meters 7:05 p.m.

400 meters 7:25 p.m.

200 meters 7:50 p.m.

5,000 meters 8:10 p.m.

Relay 1600 meters 8:45 p.m.

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