FAYETTEVILLE – Sophomore Denise Bargiachi took second and freshman Miranda Walker fourth in the 10,000 meters for the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team at the Southeastern Conference Championships in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Friday to push the Lady’Backs into fourth place as a team.
Bargiachi and Walker grabbed 13 of Arkansas’s 14 total points which places it two behind third –place Tennessee (16). Georgia leads the competition with28.
“The 10,000 was really positive,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “We thought that we could score in the neighborhood of 14 points between our four runners and Miranda really stepped up for her first 10K. Your first 10,000 is a crap shoot and Miranda really got the job done. Denise did all she could and led most of the way, but (Jill) Steffens is incredibly talented and seized the opportunity when it came around.”
Either Bargiachi or Steffans would lead for the entire 25-lap race with Bargiachi doing most of the work for the first 20 laps. With just over four laps to go, Bargiachi slid to the outside in a tactical move which gave Steffens the opportunity she needed to sprint to the lead. Steffens would lead the rest of the way despite Bargiachi’s attempt to cover the surge.
The race set up early between Bargiachi and Steffens as the tandem took a commanding lead on the field just eight minutes in. Walker and Florida’s Jacy Kruzel would catch the leads four minutes later and run on their hips for a good portion of the race before the final move by the leaders. Kruzel would attempt to catch Bargiachi a lap later but came up well short, but her sprint allowed her to open a gap on Walker giving the Southlake, Texas, native fourth place.
The heptathlon competition ended with junior Etienne Chaplin claiming eighth place despite zero points in the 100-meter hurdles on Thursday. Nabbing personal bests in five of the seven events over two days, Chaplin’s second day consisted of a near personal best in the long jump of 18-9 ¼, a nine-foot career best in the javelin of 115-7 and a career best in the 800 meters of 2:23.03. Chaplin made up nearly 800 points over six events to finish eighth, 45 points shy of seventh.
In a slight surprise, Arkansas 400-meter hurdler Jennifer Fall qualified for the finals of her event with a time of 1:01.41. Just off her personal best, Fall ran in the third and final heat of the 400 hurdles and looked great down the backstretch to put herself into position. Over the final 100 meters, Fall held off a strong surge to finish third in her heat and nab the final qualifying spot for the event finals. Racing across the line and not giving up, Fall willed her way into the finals by a mere 0.04 seconds over Kentucky’s Ashley Trimble.
The 800 and 200 meters were not as kind to the Lady Razorbacks as each event put Arkansas on the outside looking in. The 800 meters saw junior Paige Farrell run a season best of 2:07.94 to finish 10th, 0.28 seconds out of the top nine who will run in the race’s final on Sunday. Coming through the midway point at 1:00.71, Farrell held the lead in the race, but would get passed at 700 meters by Tennessee’s Rose-Anne Galligan and LSU’s LaTavia Thomas who took the top two spots in the race. At that point it became a waiting game for Farrell as two other heats raced, leading to a Kentucky runner who clocked a time of 2:07.66 to take the final qualifying spot.
Jessica Cousins was the odd-woman out in the 200 meters despite a very good time of 23.42 seconds. A conference champion in most of the nation’s elite leagues, Cousins’ time placed her 0.14 seconds out of the top nine for the event finals which will be dominated by LSU and South Carolina runners.
The SEC Championships continue on Saturday with prelimaries of several events and finals in numerous field events and the steeplechase. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to LADYBACKS.COM.