FAYETTEVILLE – In 2007 she was the runner-up, now Etienne Chaplin can add SEC Champion to her list of credentials as she ran a fantastic 800-meters to move from second place to first in the pentathlon competition on the first day of the Southeastern Conference Indoor Track Championships at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville on Friday night.
Chaplin used career bests in the 60-meter hurdles, high jump and long jump to propel herself to an NCAA automatic qualifying time and notch the second best pentathlon performance in school history behind Lady Razorback great Deedee Brown. Over the five events, Chaplin scored 4,095 points for the win, outdistancing Marissa Harris of Mississippi State by 51 points and making up a 40-point deficit on the Bulldog in the final race.
Needing to finish four seconds ahead of Harris to make up the deficit, Chaplin moved her way up the 800-meter field steadily and gave it her all over the final 200 meters to not just make up the four seconds, but finish seven in front of her competition.
“Outstanding,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “Three personal bests and a win is a great start for us. She could have had an even better score had she not scratched her third long jump. As a staff we are very proud of Etienne. She has worked extremely hard over the past year and this is a great way for her to reap the benefits of that hard work.
Chaplin opened the day with a career best 8.57 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles and then matched her personal best in the high jump at 5-5 ¼. A shot put of 38-11 was just off her career mark and then a five inch personal record and NCAA provisional qualifier in the long jump set up the 800-meter showdown.
Along with Chaplin, Peter-Gaye Beckford used clutch back-to-back performances in the shot put and long jump to move into a scoring position and finished sixth overall to add an additional three points to the Lady Razorback score. Beckford’s shot put of 42-11 was a personal best and her long jump of 20-2 ½ was the second best of the competition behind Chaplin’s 20-3 ¾.
Arkansas’ 13 points places it in first place in the team standings after one event and gives it a four-point cushion on Kentucky who placed fourth and fifth in the competition for nine points. Miss. St. ranks third with eight points followed by Alabama (7) and Mississippi (2).
Rounding out the Lady Razorbacks’ first day were courageous performances by sophomore Jennifer Fall and freshman Lauren Cox. Fall, competing in the first pentathlon of her career, scored 3,258 points to finish 13th overall while Cox finished 17th thanks mostly to a hurt angle that prevented her from clearing a bar in the high jump and then forced her off the track in the 800 meters.
The SEC Championships continue on Saturday with preliminary events and finals in the men’s heptathlon, several field events and the 3,000 meters. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.