DES MOINES, Iowa — The University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team’s 4×800-meter relay of Dacia Barr, Aneita Denton, Paige Farrell and Erica Sigmont clocked the world’s fastest time in the event for 2005 at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, with a mark of 8:29.13 on way to winning Arkansas’ second Drake Relays title ever.
In front of a sellout crowd of more than 40,000, Arkansas was cheered around the track when the public address announcer made mention of the potential Drake Relays record and world leading time. The squad shattered the Drake Relays record by almost four seconds and based on performances at the Penn Relays and off the International Association of Athletics Federation’s (IAAF) website is the fastest time in the world.
“We knew that this team was one of the best that would compete at the Drake Relays,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “Michigan came in as the favorite, but we knew that we would give them a run for their money. From what I was told, the crowd was tremendous and on their feet cheering Aneita all the way around the final lap when they knew she had a chance at the record. I am really proud of them.”
Starting off with a pair of freshmen in Farrell and Barr, the Lady’Backs let the seniors wrap up the race with Sigmont and Denton. Farrell, a NCAA qualifier indoors at 800 meters got things off on the right foot when she clocked 2:09 for her portion of the race putting Arkansas among the leaders. Barr was next and matched her freshman teammate with another 2:09 performance and the race was on between the Lady Razorbacks and Michigan’s Wolverines.
Sigmont took the baton for the third leg and put together the best 800-meter run of her career when she clocked 2:06 for her two-lap portion, then handed the stick to Denton one stride behind Michigan for the final two laps. Denton immediately made up the deficit and more as she powered around the track and proved why she was the defending NCAA Champion at 800 meters. Splitting 2:01 on the anchor leg, Denton was aided by the crowd that was on its feet for not just the final laps, but also for Arkansas’ victory lap as they showed their approval of Arkansas’ hard work.
In other Drake Relays action, senior Kasia Williams finished second in a star-studded field of the invitational 100-meter hurdles. Just off her season best with a time of 13.17, Williams beat world indoor champion Perdita Felicien and several others in what was another monumental showing for the Lady Razorbacks.
Another senior, Beyonka McDowell also put together a splendid performance when she leaped to 20 feet, 3.75 inches in the long jump to also finish second. McDowell’s season best of 20-5.75 was in jeopardy all day as she put six solid jumps together which proved to Arkansas’ coaches that she had found the touch that made her a USA Championships qualifier just two seasons ago.
An important race to the Lady Razorbacks was the 4×400-meter relay which notched another NCAA regional qualifier when it ran a season best 3:38.55 in the finals of the competition to finish third overall. Arkansas’ relay was the first time that its top four quarter milers ran together during the outdoor season as Sydney Scarbrough, Tominque Boatright, Farrell and Denton cruised. Boatright had been hampered by a hamstring injury which she suffered during the indoor season but looked strong in her leg of the race and Denton and Farrell were each coming off their impressive 4×800-meter race.
Arkansas now looks to senior Laura Jakosky to post another NCAA mark at the Cardinal Invitational on Sunday evening, May 1. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, visit www.ladybacks.com.