ATHENS, Ga. – Makeba Alcide finished in first place in the heptathlon at the 2011 SEC Outdoor Championships to kick start the scoring for the No. 8 University of Arkansas women’s track and field team. It is the first SEC title of her career. The Razorbacks are in second place with 14 points after day one of the conference meet at the Spec Towns Track in Athens, Ga. The team also got four points from Miranda Walker in the 10,000 meters.
"(Today) was pretty big for me," Alcide said. "It’s a new national (St. Lucia) record for me. It probably put me in the standings to compete for my country. That’s pretty special to me. It wasn’t easy to get 5,600 points, but I went out there and did my best. I’ve worked really hard to get here. It was a good effort on my part and my coaches’ part because they really work hard with me."
Alcide scored a career-best 5,646 points to earn the fifth SEC heptathlon title in program history, and the first for Arkansas since the 2009 season. Her point total is also a Spec Towns Track facility record, a national record for Alcide’s native St. Lucia and the fourth-best performance in program history. Alcide cracked the top-five list previously monopolized by former Razorbacks Gi-Gi Miller and DeeDee Brown.
Entering the final event of the day, Alcide led Kaylon Eppinger of Alabama by 84 points with just the 800 meters to go. Alcide responded with a personal-best effort in the half mile, crossing second in a time of 2:17.25 and adding 861 points to her winning total. The Razorback sophomore finished the two-day, seven-event competition with four personal bests.
"What is so exciting about Makeba is that she has the potential to go even higher," associate head coachRolando Greene said. "She had a great first day with three personal bests and then had a mediocre start to the second day but she closed strong and executed. She knew she was in control of the event and did what she had to do to help the team."
Walker matched her seed place and ran to a fifth-place finish in the 10,000 meters, the final event of the day. In the next to last SEC race of her career, Walker crossed the line in a time of 35:30.97 to add four points to the Razorbacks’ team total. She is scheduled to return to the track Sunday for the 5,000 meters.
In the first preliminary event on the track, Stephanie Brown and Martine Borge qualified for the Sunday’s final in the 800 meters. Brown won heat two in 2:06.73 to automatically advance to the nine-person final. Running in the same heat, Borge finished third with a time of 2:09.49 but qualified ninth overall based on her time. Arkansas will be one of three teams, along with LSU and Tennessee, with two runners in the 800-meter final.
Regina George qualified fourth overall during the preliminary rounds of the 200 meters. She won heat five in a time of 23.42 to pick up the automatic berth into the final. Teammates Shelise Williams and Gwendolyn Flowers finished 12th and 14th overall, respectively, but did not advance. Williams finished third in heat six in a time of 23.71, while Flowers posted a personal-best time of 23.77 in a second-place finish in heat three.
The qualifying rounds concluded with a sixth-place overall finish for Brittany Hyter in the 400-meter hurdles. Running in the opening heat, the Razorback junior posted a time of 59.24 to secure her spot in Sunday’s final. No one team had more than one runner move on; all of the 400-meter hurdle qualifiers ran below the one-minute mark. Leah Orley, returning to the track after the heptathlon, finished 16th overall in the prelims but did not advance.
Competition at the SEC Championships gets started Saturday at 11 a.m. (CT) with the high jump. Other conference event titles will be awarded in the steeplechase, pole vault, long jump, high jump and discus. Tina Sutej is the defending SEC outdoor champion in the pole vault, having won the event last season in Knoxville, Tenn. The schedule also features a full slate of preliminary action.
For live results and interactive blog, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com. In addition to meet coverage at the Razorbacks’ website, the conference meet will be streamed live at ESPN3.com Saturday from 3-5:30 p.m. (CT) and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. A tape-delay broadcast of the SEC Championships will be aired May 25 at 8 p.m. on ESPNU.