NEW YORK, N.Y. – A light schedule of events on Saturday didn’t stop No. 11 Arkansas Razorback women’s track and field from turning in another stunning performance in the relay events at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational on Saturday at the Armory Track Center in New York City.
"Another great relay event for us," head coach Lance Harter said. "Our relays were really the huge highlight of the weekend. I’m so encouraged by what I saw out of those four runners on the DMR: a junior, two sophomores and a freshman; and a senior, two juniors and a freshman on the mile relay. Very impressive. This weekend was definitely a good indicator of where we are in our training and what we need to concentrate on with some big meets coming up."
The quartet of senior Karen Thomas (54.56), junior Shelise Williams (52.02), junior Edina Brooks (54.05) and freshman Regina George (52.53) combined for a time of 3:33.18 to win the championship 4×400-meter relay. Their time is the Arkansas school record, the NCAA and SEC leader and an improved NCAA provisional-qualifying time. Their time was also just off the NCAA automatic-qualifying time of 3:33.
"I’m so thankful," associate head coach Rolando Greene said. "I’m continuously seeing my prayers answered. That race had some of the best teams in the country in it. I know we have 3:30 in us if we get into the right race and the right situation. We aren’t done yet and we still have plenty of work to do. We know we can make a big splash at the SEC and the NCAA Championships in the coming weeks. There was a time when I was just hoping we could get into this meet and now we are one of the premiere teams. I’m very excited about what our possibilities are for the next few weeks."
The quartet broke the school record of 3:33.67 set by Tominque Boatright, Jessica Cousins, Sasha Rolle and Paige Farrell in 2006 at the Iowa State Last Chance. The 4×400-meter relay record is the second school record set by the Razorbacks this weekend. Friday night, sophomore Samantha Learch (1,200 meters; 3:26), Williams (400 meters; 52.2), George (800 meters; 2:07.2) and sophomore Kristen Gillespie (mile, 4:39.8) combined for a time of 11:06.56 in the distance medley relay to finish fourth. The quartet’s time is the Arkansas school record, ranks No. 5 in the NCAA and No. 2 in the SEC.
"This was a great weekend for our team and for me," George said. "We wanted to come here, work hard and prove ourselves. I think we did that. It’s always been difficult to balance the 400 meters and the 800 meters but I think I’m really finding my stride. I’m learning how to race smarter and that’s why I’m improving every weekend."
Junior Shantel Thompson competed in the eastern division of the high jump. She earned a runner-up finish with her clearance of 5-5.
The Razorbacks will compete next when they host the Tyson Invitational, Fri.-Sat., Feb. 12-13, at the Randal Tyson Track Center. For continued coverage of Razorback track and field, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.