GAINESVILLE, Fla. – It was a bittersweet beginning for sophomore Whitney Anderson and the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team at the Southeastern Conference Indoor Track Championships in Gainesville, Fla., on Friday. On the one hand Arkansas saw the return of Anderson to full action after the Russellville, Ark., native spent parts of the indoor season injured, but on the other hand three fouls in the long jump ended what would have been a storybook finish to Anderson’s indoor season.
“Well, the SEC Championships are here,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “Whitney was doing very well today before the long jump. She was right at her personal best in the hurdles; high jumped where we thought she would and then had a career best in the shot put. With everything that she has gone through this season, I was very impressed that she was performing so well. Now we have to rally as a team and see what we can do.”
On the multi-event day of the 2006 SEC Indoor meet, Anderson began competition with the 55-meter hurdles and ran a solid race against the fastest field of the day. Clocking 8.67 seconds for the ballistic event, Anderson scored 869 points to place her 16th out of the 21-person field. Her score placed her just 121 points out of the scoring eight with her best events on the horizon.
Heading to the high jump, Anderson stepped up to the launching pad for the first time in competition this season and looked rusty on her first attempts, but quickly sorted out her approach to clear five feet, one-half inch for 666 points. While the score dropped her in the standings to 17th, she was still within striking distance of chalking up Arkansas’ first points of the meet.
The shot put is where Anderson made a big jump in the standings as she hurled the 4kg weight a season and career best 36-3 to improve two places in the standings and gain 52 points on the scoring eight. Her throw was the fifth best in the competition and just eight inches from the third best throw.
“Whitney looked great in the shot put,” Harter said. “She put one way out there and made people take notice. That is one event that she has been able to work on this winter and it’s nice to see that her hard work and dedication paid off.”
In the long jump, Anderson’s day took a turn for the worse as she failed to record a distance. Three foot fouls and subsequent red flags at the board wiped out what may have been very good marks that could have closed her gap against the field.
Determined to complete what she started, Anderson returned to action in the 800 meters and completed the competition with a time of 2:42.59. Finishing 18th overall, Anderson showed much more in her choice to compete than she did in any of her five events, even facing the media after the final race despite obvious heartache.
The Lady Razorbacks continue action on Saturday with preliminary events in each of the running events and finals in the long jump and 3,000 meters. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.