FAYETTEVILLE – Senior Brandy Blackwood got the day started right for the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team as she broke her own school record in the 20-lb. weight throw competition on the second day of the Powered by Tyson Invitational on Saturday.
Blackwood threw the weight 66 feet, 2 ½ inches to crush the mark she set just a week ago by nearly four inches. After an average first throw, Blackwood improved steadily throughout preliminary competition to qualify for the finals in fifth position. In her first throw of the finals, she uncorked the school record toss and backed it up with solid efforts one of which was almost as far as her school record from a week ago. Blackwood’s mark is also an improvement on her NCAA provisional qualifier and keeps her at 11th in the NCAA this season
“This was a great weekend,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “We had numerous lifetime bests and a school record. I’m pleased with the way that our young ladies come out fighting every week. As for Brandy, she keeps putting long throws out there and was actually better head-to-head than some of the people ahead of her on the national list.”
Also having a big day was freshman Tominque Boatright who capitalized on a fast heat of the 400-meter dash to run the second fastest time in Arkansas history at 53.60. Running with two of the top four 400-meter runners in the country, Boatright was on their heels through the first 200 meters. As the race continued the field spread slightly and Boatright hung in for her fifth-place finish in the race. Boatright’s time was also a NCAA provisional qualifier and currently stands as the ninth-fastest time in the country.
“Tominque is a fighter,” Harter said. “She ran a great 400 today and then came back to run a very good leg on the 4×400. Coach (Rolando) Greene keeps saying that she could be an impact player for us and I think that we are seeing why he says that now.”
Arkansas’ 4×400-meter relay improved on its season best performance from Friday night when they ran 3:39.29 to finish fourth in their heat with a NCAA provisional qualifying mark. The team of freshman Paige Farrell, Boatright, and seniors Beyonka McDowell and Aneita Denton once again threw caution to the wind and hung with some of the best teams in the nation. Farrell came out of the blocks with another solid 54 second split handing off to Boatright who flew around the oval in a low 53 seconds. McDowell then carried the baton before Denton clocked the fastest split by a Lady Razorback in many years when she ran 51 seconds.
In the pole vault, Arkansas placed all four of its vaulters over 12-8 ¾ as a pair of the quartet tied for fifth and the others tied for eighth. Sophomore Stacie Manuel and freshman Danielle O’Reilly picked up the higher ranking based on their clean slate up to 13 feet while Jodi Driggers and Stephanie Irwin each missed one time prior to getting knocked out of the competition. Arkansas’ coaches were especially pleased with Irwin who improved for a third-straight week in the vault. The Mt. Ida, Ark., native has gone from a modest 11-7 ¾ in her first competition as a Lady’Back to 12-8 ¾.
The mile saw another freshman, Dacia Barr, break five minutes for the first time in her Lady Razorback career. At the back of the pack for most of the race, Barr passed five people over the final 150 meters to finish eighth overall, but more importantly clocked a career best of 4:59.29.
In the early session, junior Jessie Gordon looked inspired in her heat of the 3,000-meter run. Running her best over the past two weeks, Gordon ran a personal best in the race by 12 seconds when she crossed the finish line in 9:51.74 to take third in the unseeded section.
The Lady Razorbacks are off from competition next weekend in preparation for the Southeastern Conference Championships, Feb. 25-27, at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, visit www.ladybacks.com.