FAYETTEVILLE – Senior Jessica Cousins was the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team’s lone qualifier on the second day of the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, but certainly was not the only Lady’Back to put together a great competition as several Arkansas athletes improved on personal bests Saturday afternoon.
Cousins opened the day with the 200-meter dash and popped off her third NCAA qualifier in the event of the season and an indoor best time of 23.69. While not quite good enough to make the finals of the competition, Cousins’ time improved her status on the NCAA provisional descending order list and continued her string of impressive performances this winter.
“Jessica had another great day,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “She has been a leader for us all winter and today was no exception. In terms of NCAA qualifiers, I think that we threw most of our best chances out there last night and had a very good return. I would have liked to get a few more NCAA qualifiers but we have been ravaged by the flu and so I am happy with what we were able to accomplish.”
Just missing out on a qualifier was junior Paige Farrell who popped a great race despite being one of the Lady Razorbacks affected by illness. In the championship section of the 800-meter run, Farrell ran 2:09.12 to improve her season best by three seconds and miss the NCAA provisional mark by a scant 0.12 seconds. While no where near her career mark of 2:07 indoors, Farrell looked strong throughout her race and even showed signs of her late race kick which should serve her well heading into the Southeastern Conference Championships in two weeks.
Posting a career best on Saturday afternoon was redshirt freshman Katie Stripling who took the pole vault bar three inches over her mark of just last week. Competing in the collegiate section of the vault, Stripling wormed her way over 12 feet, 6 ¾ inches to improve on her career best for the second straight week. Stripling is now in solid position to be a factor at the upcoming SEC Championships.
Also improving on Saturday afternoon was freshman Miranda Walker in the 3,000-meter run. Not getting caught up in the hype and speed of the leaders, Walker did a fantastic job of running her race which entailed holding back early and keeping herself strong throughout the 15-lap competition. For her efforts, Walker clocked a season best time of 9:49.72, dropping four seconds off the time she ran at the Arkansas Invitational to open the season.
In the theme of improving, senior Tiavannia Thompson ended Saturday’s meet with another season best effort when she clocked a time of 8.50 in the 60-meter hurdles. Just starting to get herself back into competition shape, Thompson dropped her season best by two tenths during the prelims of the race, then nearly another tenth in the final.
The Lady Razorbacks are off next weekend in preparation for the SEC Championships in Lexington, Ky., Feb. 23-25. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to LADYBACKS.COM.