FAYETTEVILLE – Sophomore Tominque Boatright continued her torrid pace in the 400-meter dash on the first day of the NCAA Indoor Track & Field championships when she broke the University of Arkansas record in the event and qualified for the finals.
Boatright started in lane three of the opening heat in the race and got off to a solid start. At the 150-meter break she rounded the curve in fourth position, but well within striking distance of her competitors. Making up ground on the home stretch, she came around the third curve with some distance between herself and those in front, but seized the moment as the others began to tire and caught the third-place runner down the home stretch, passing her and the second-place runner at the tape.
Her second-place time of 53.17 shattered the old Arkansas record of 53.48 by former Lady’Back Adwoa Gyasi-Nimako which she set in the winter of 2002 at the SEC Championships.
“I knew in my heart that Tominque would make the final,” Arkansas associate head coach Rolando Greene said. “Between her races in Iowa last week and her practices this I was sure that she would run fast and could break the record. I think that in a faster heat tomorrow, she could break the record again.”
“Tominque has been getting better every week,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “Coach Greene kept saying that she was poised for a breakthrough and she got that last week in Iowa. Now its just snowballing and we’ll see what she can do tomorrow.”
Boatright qualified for the NCAA meet with the 16th fastest time in the nation at 53.51, but shocked her competition when she dropped nearly four-tenths off her seed time during the race to enter Saturday’s final with the sixth-fastest mark. Boatright’s time places her in lane six of the first heat of the final which takes place at 7:05 p.m., Saturday night.
Arkansas’ only other competitor on Friday evening was senior Penny Splichal who took the track for the first of her final two races in the cardinal and white. Lining up for the 5,000 meters, the gun went off and the 17 racers took off, but at the middle of the first turn jostling amongst the field knocked Splichal over forcing the starters to recall the runners. Splichal stood up from the fall with a big smile on her face, but the ensuing race told a different story as the Dickinson, N.D., native did not have the same spring in her step as she did two weeks ago when she won the Southeastern Conference title.
Starting near the back of the pack, Splichal was unable to overtake the leaders and even with several strong moves, only managed a 13th-place finish with a time of 16:38.05.
“Penny came in as the 13th-ranked runner and finished 13th, so you can’t argue that,” Harter said. “I think that the fall in the beginning may have taken more out of her then she let on, but I think she’ll come back in the 3,000 tomorrow and have a good race.”
The NCAA Championships continue at the Randal Tyson Track Center on Saturday morning with the heptathlon at 11:00 a.m. Finals for all other events begin at 4:10 p.m. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.