FAYETTEVILLE – Freshman Whitney Anderson of the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team sits in fifth place in the heptathlon after a solid first day of action at the USA Track and Field Championships in Carson, Calif.
Anderson led off what will be a big weekend for current and former Arkansas Lady Razorbacks as 13 individuals go up against the nation’s best.
“Whitney had a good day today,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “She was right at her personal bests in all four events and is very close to the leaders. If she can put together another day tomorrow like she did today then there is no telling what could happen.”
Competing in the USA Junior Championships, Anderson got off to a solid start in the grueling two-day affair with a near career best in the 100-meter hurdles. Running 15.19, Anderson was plagued by 2.2 meters/second headwind that slowed her heat. Despite the adversity, Anderson still managed the third fastest time in her race and eighth fastest among all competitors.
The high jump appeared extremely promising as she cleared her first four heights without a miss. At five feet, 1 ¾ inches, Anderson had two failed attempts, but dug out a clearance on her third to pick up 701 points toward her cumulative score, a 35 point difference had she failed to make the bar.
Anderson’s best event of the day was the shot put where she uncorked a career best on her first attempt at 36-9 ½. The throw was more than two feet better than her last two attempts and earned the Russellville, Ark., native 609 points. Anderson’s throw was the fourth best of the competition.
Rounding out her day with the 200-meter dash, Anderson again had to deal with one of the stronger headwinds of the competition, but still pounded out a time of 26.75 for 733 points. Her time ranked eighth among all competitors but landed her in fifth overall with a first day score of 2,860 points, only 200 points from second and 260 from the lead.
On the senior circuit a trio of former Lady Razorbacks showcased their abilities, two in the 1,500-meter run and one in the 5,000. Arkansas’ 1,500-meter contingent looked strong as Sarah Schwald and Christin Wurth-Thomas finished first and second, respectively, in their heats to notch automatic qualifiers for the 12-person final to be contested on Saturday. Schwald recorded the fastest time of the two heats crossing the finish in 4:13.25, while Wurth-Thomas needed 4:14.14 to complete her three-plus laps which stands as the fifth fastest time among competitors.
“As far as the 1,500 goes, those were some impressive races,” Harter said. “Christin has a lot of confidence right now especially after the win at Prefontaine, but I also know Sarah and she won’t give anything to Christin. That will be a great race in a few days. I’m looking forward to seeing the times that they run when they leave it all on the track.”
The 5,000-meter run saw 15-time all-American Amy Yoder Begley take the track and despite a stellar time of 15:24.88, finished seventh overall. Nike’s Shalane Flanagan won the competition handily by six seconds with a time of 15:10.96.
For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas Women’s Athletics, visit www.ladybacks.com.