AUSTIN, Texas - Eight runners qualified for the quarterfinal round Thursday as the No. 13 University of Arkansas women's track and field team began competition at the 2012 NCAA West Preliminary in Austin, Texas. The Razorbacks had one runner advance in the 100 meters, three in the 400 meters, one in the 800 meters, two in the 1,500 meters and one in the 400-meter hurdles.
"I think we exceeded our own expectations today," head coach Lance Harter said. "There were some potential roadblocks, for example having three quarter-milers in the same heat when they only (automatically) advance three. It was nice to see them go 1-2-3 and make a statement about what we can do in the quarter and, also, in the mile relay.
"We got our two runners through in the 1,500 meters. Tactically, they had to use some unique racing strategies but they took care of business to advance. Tiffany and Brittany both took care of their business and that's all we could ask for."
Brittany Hyter was Arkansas' first qualifier of the day with her effort in the 400-meter hurdles. Running in heat five, the Razorback senior finished fifth in her heat with a time of 1:00.18 and received one of the nine at-large spots. She finished seventh among that group and 27th overall in the first round. Friday's quarterfinal round is scheduled for a 7:45 p.m. (CT) start.
The Razorbacks picked up two more qualifiers in the 1,500 meters. Kristen Gillespie won her heat in 4:24.91 and finished third overall among the qualifiers. In the fourth and final heat of the event, Keri Wood grabbed an automatic spot into the next round with a fourth-place finish in 4:30.24. The quarterfinal heats of the 1,500 meters will be run Saturday at 6:45 p.m.
In her first of two individual events this weekend, Tiffany Hines qualified 16th overall to move on to the quarterfinal round of the 100 meters. She finished in a wind-aided time of 11.53 to grab the third automatic berth in the heat. Under all conditions, Hines tied her career-best time. The next round of the 100 meters is Friday at 6:45 p.m. Hines also qualified for the 200 meters.
All three Razorbacks in the 400 meters advanced to Friday's quarterfinal. Running in heat three, Regina George, Whitney Jones and Gwendolyn Flowers swept the top-three spots, respectively, to move on. George was the top overall qualifier with her first-round time of 52.38. Jones was 10th overall in 53.76 while Flowers was 16th overall in 53.87. Friday's rounds are set to begin at 6:15 p.m.
In the final event of the night for the team, Martine Borge finished fifth in her heat and 23rd overall to keep her season alive. The Razorback junior turned in a time of 2:08.58 and will run in Friday's quarterfinal which is slated for a 7:15 p.m. start.
Competition continues Friday with quarterfinal action in the 100 meters, 400 meters, 800 meters and 400-meter hurdles and first-round heats of the 200 meters and 100-meter hurdles. The 3,000-meter steeplechase, high jump and pole vault will also be contested on day two. The top-12 performers from the quarterfinal heats, steeplechase and field events will advance to the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
Meet coverage for the 2012 NCAA West Preliminary will including live results, video stream and interactive blog which begins at 1 p.m. (CT) each day. For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
16. Tiffany Hines - 11.53q
1. Regina George - 52.38q
10. Whitney Jones - 53.76q
16. Gwendolyn Flowers - 53.87q
23. Martine Borge - 2:08.58q
37. Samantha Learch - 2:10.64
3. Kristen Gillespie - 4:24.91q
16. Keri Wood - 4:30.24q
25. Brittany Hyter - 1:00.18q
36. Tamara Myers - 5.77m/18-11.25
q - qualified for the next round