WALNUT, Calif. – Sophomore Dacia Barr and freshman Kelly Vrshek were two of three University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track athletes to post career bests in their events at the Mt. San Antonio College Relays in Walnut, Calif.
Barr, a NCAA regional qualifier as a true freshman, just missed out on an opportunity to compete at the national championship last spring, but looks to be well on her way in 2006 as she ran a career best time in the 1,500-meter run at 4:24.19. Battling the elements, Barr finished second in her heat of the 1,500 and third overall against a field that could make up a majority of the NCAA Championships field in June.
“Yesterday it was about 100 degrees on the track and today it dropped to the 50s and is pouring rain,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “The elements were tough, but everyone stepped up and did what we came here to do. Not only was this a productive trip at the Mt. SAC Relays but also at the Pomona-Pitzer meet.”
Joining Barr with a Mt. SAC qualifier was Vrshek who competed in her first 10,000-meter run of her career and made each of the 34-minute race count. Crossing the finish in 34:33.36, Vrshek was under the NCAA provisional mark of 35:00.00 to be one of 12 runners to make the standard in what was perhaps the toughest competition of the Relays. Vrshek qualified for the regional championships in the 5,000 at the Stanford Invitational two weeks ago and appears to enjoy the Pacific coast as she recorded her second regional/provisional mark.
At the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational, sophomore Caroline Peyton produced her first NCAA regional mark when she improved upon her career best in the steeplechase with a time of 10:47.39. Doing her best to get out in front of the pack, Peyton dropped her season and career mark by seven seconds between the Texas Relays a week ago and the Pomona meet. Peyton’s time is also a 30-second improvement from her career best entering the 2006 season and allowed her to finish second overall at the meet.
In the 1,500-meter run, the Lady Razorbacks used the Pomona-Pitzer Invite as a training exercise for some of its longer distance runners. Sophomore Tiffany Redlarczyk led the way with a time of 4:38.23 in her second race in as many days. Redlarczyk had posted a regional qualifier in the steeplechase at Mt. SAC just the night before. Freshman Denise Bargiachi just missed on a regional mark in the 5,000 and came back with a time of 4:46.30 less than 24 hours later, nearly a career best. Senior Jessie Gordon rounded out Arkansas’ 1,500-meter field with a time of 4:49.34.
Freshman Jennifer Harper and sophomore Beth Fahey packed a powerful 1-2 punch in the 5,000-meter run with times of 17:11.72 and 17:12.32, respectively. Leaving no doubt who the class of the field was, the duo took the lead from the beginning and controlled the tempo of the contest.
Sophomore Paige Farrell rounded out Arkansas’ competition at the Pomona meet as she ran a second 800-meter run, the day after posting a regional qualifier at Mt. SAC. Attempting to create a situation similar to what she will face at the SEC and NCAA meets, Farrell returned to the track to run 2:12.88 and finish sixth overall.
With the Mt. SAC and Pomona meets completed, Arkansas’ sprinters and field event personnel to take center stage at the John Jacobs Invitational in Norman, Okla. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.