FAYETTEVILLE – With a few surprises, the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team was informed it would send 13 individuals and one relay to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships next weekend in Sacramento, Calif., following the release of the final list of competitors on Tuesday by the track and field subcommittee.
Arkansas’s contingent of 14 athletes (13 in individual competitions and one in the relay) is one of is the most since the Lady Razorbacks sent 14 to the 2004 championships. The 2007 squad is well represented with athletes in 10 of the 21 events of the competition and has head coach Lance Harter pleased with his team’s efforts.
“We believed that we would have a good group of women traveling to the NCAA Championships before the season started,” Harter said. “This exceeds those expectations. There aren’t many schools in the country that will send 14 athletes to the national championship in both genders and to have that many with just the women is a testament to how hard we have worked all season. I couldn’t be happier for everyone that was chosen to participate, but now we need to focus on getting the job done in Sacramento.”
The Lady Razorbacks were assured of at least seven athletes and one relay following the NCAA Mideast Regional last weekend and had good feelings on at least three more individuals prior to the selection process. The posting of the final list of athletes did bring a smile to the Lady Razorbacks’ faces when senior LaKeisha Martin was listed among the 200-meter runners for the national championship. Martin who has had a breakthrough season ran a season and career best of 23.47 at the John McDonnell Invitational in mid-April and finished 12th at the Mideast Regional. She became one of the 28 competitors in the 200-meter field and ranks 23rd heading into the national championship.
Arkansas’s most populated event at the NCAA Championships is the 400-meter dash where three Lady Razorbacks make a run at a national title. Junior Jessica Cousins enters as the fourth-ranked runner in the field with her career best and school record time of 52.06 and is joined by junior Tominque Boatright and senior Sasha Rolle. The trio also makes up three-quarters of Arkansas’s 4×400-meter relay which holds the sixth-best time in the nation.
A pair of Lady Razorback pole vaulters are also slated to compete in senior Jodi Unger and junior Stephanie Irwin. Both Lady’Backs earned all-America honors during the indoor season and should be considered as potential finalists in Sacramento. Arkansas’s highest ranked competitor heading into the NCAA meet is junior Dacia Barr in the 1,500-meter run. Barr’s season and career best of 4:14.97 ranks third best in the nation and is nearly two seconds faster than the fourth-best mark.
Other Lady Razorbacks scheduled to compete at the NCAA meet include Christine Kalmer (5,000 meters), Denise Bargiachi (10,000 meters), Tiavannia Thompson (100-meter hurdles), Carly Bloomfield (javelin), Peter-Gaye Beckford (javelin) and Etienne Chaplin (heptathlon).
The NCAA Championships begin next Wednesday morning, June 6, at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex in Sacramento, Calif. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.