FAYETTEVILLE – The 13th-ranked University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team will send 11 student-athletes to the 2008 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships this weekend at the Randal Tyson Track Center it was announced on Monday night. The 11 Lady’Backs are scheduled to compete in six events headlined by a trio of Arkansas pole vaulters.
“We have 11 people to compete at the NCAA Championships,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “That is a huge contingent to bring to the national meet. Now our goal is to get those young ladies into scoring positions.”
Arkansas’ strength in 2008 lies in the pole vault where junior Katie Stripling, senior Stephanie Irwin and freshman Tara Diebold make up the only three teammates in the 18-person field. The trio ranks sixth, 11th and 15th, respectively, and continues a long line of success for Arkansas in the event at the NCAA Championships.
Also making their way into the field of 284 student-athletes are senior Dacia Barr (mile), junior Christine Kalmer (3,000 meters), junior Peter-Gaye Beckford (long jump), senior Etienne Chaplin (pentathlon) and the 4×400-meter relay of Courtenay Brown, Tominque Boatright, Shelise Williams and Paige Farrell. Arkansas’ impressive number of accepted entries is one of the largest in the nation and bodes well for Lady Razorbacks.
Arkansas’ 2008 entries to the NCAA Championships have the opportunity to score eight times over the weekend with its best chance coming in the pentathlon where Chaplin ranks fourth in the nation. Posting a career best and near Arkansas school record at the SEC Championships, Chaplin put herself in tremendous position for the weekend and according to the Lady Razorback coaching staff still has something left in the tank.
The Lady Razorbacks enter the 2008 championship with five marks or times ranked among the nation’s top eight which could yield big points over the course of the two-day affair. Behind Chaplin’s no. 4 ranking, Arkansas’ 4×400-meter relay ranks fifth and Barr, Kalmer and Stripling all rank sixth in the nation.
Unfortunately for the Lady Razorbacks, two of its competitors barely missed the cut to be invited to the 2008 meet. Senior Makeatha Cooper was one-hundredths of a second off the last qualifying spot in the 100-meter hurdles and junior Denise Bargiachi, the SEC Champion at 5,000 meters was just one second off the qualifier in her specialty.
“You are always disappointed when you have people on the bubble and they don’t get in,” Harter said. “You hope for their sakes that they are accepted and gain a positive experience.”
The NCAA Championships begin on Friday morning with the men’s heptathlon competition and run through Saturday night at the Randal Tyson Track Center. Reserved tickets for the two-day meet sell for $35 while general admission tickets are $25. Single-day tickets may be available at the gate for $15 per day. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.