FAYETTEVILLE – Senior Etienne Chaplin posted the nation’s first NCAA qualifier in the pentathlon for the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team on the first day of the Razorback Invitational on Friday afternoon.
Chaplin tallied 3,986 points to easily surpass her competition at the event and led a 1-4-5 Lady Razorback finish in the event as senior Peter-Gaye Beckford and freshman Lauren Cox each completed their first ever multi-event competitions at Arkansas. Chaplin’s score is also a career best for the senior and just 66 points off the NCAA automatic mark of 4,050, placing her in an enviable position to qualify for the upcoming NCAA Championships in March.
“Etienne did really well today,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “She had personal bests in three events and got a great mark that should get her qualified for the NCAA meet in March. She’ll get another chance at the NCAA automatic mark at the SEC Championships, but for her first time this year, I was really proud of her. If this competition today was any indication of what will happen tomorrow, then we should have a fantastic day. There are some of the best sprinters in the world at this meet and all times should be fast.”
Chaplin got off to a fantastic start by running her personal best in the 60-meter hurdles. Clocking 8.66 seconds, Chaplin lowered her best by just 0.01 seconds, but the time was good for 982 points and a 70 point lead on the competition. She would back up that performance with a career best high jump of 5-5 ¼ for another 806 points and was well on her way to her day score. Chaplin would win three of the five pentathlon events on the day and was among the top three in each of the five disciplines.
In the pentathlon long jump competition, Chaplin was edged by Beckford for the event win. Beckford jumped 19-10 ¼ to edge Chaplin’s mark of 19-8 and the trio of Beckford, Chaplin and Cox went 1-2-3 in both the long jump and shot put competitions.
The surprise of the day came in the weight throw competition where senior Michelle Rossio took just three throws but finished fourth overall with a two foot personal best 53-7 ½. Rossio was originally not scheduled to throw the weight at the Razorback Invitational, but Arkansas’ coaching staff decided to include her at the last minute to see what she could do.
Arkansas wrapped up the day with the 200 meter dash and all four Lady Razorback competitors ran season best times in the event. Freshman Dominique Lauderdale was the top Lady Razorback finisher at 24.48 seconds, taking 14th overall. Fellow first-year performer Shelise Williams claimed 24th overall with her 24.78 and Makeatha Cooper and Tiavannia Thompson wrapped up the marks with times of 25.21 and 25.71, respectively.
The Razorback Invitational continues on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.