TUCSON, Ariz. – Junior Jessica Cousins was up to her old tricks in the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback’s opening outdoor track meet of the season as she broke the Arkansas record for 400 meters at the Jim Click Shoot-Out, leading a contingent of 14 Lady Razorbacks to NCAA regional qualifiers. As a team, Arkansas joined forces with South Carolina’s women to score 245.5 points, well ahead of the Pac 10’s 227.0 and Big 12’s 224.5.
Cousins found herself in a familiar position at the University of Arizona track as she stepped up to the line against South Carolina’s Natasha Hastings. Once again it was a tough battle got both competitors as Hastings took the win in a stadium record time, but Cousins stellar marks of 52.81 eclipsed the one-year-old record of Tominque Boatright by two-hundredths of a second. Boatright clocked 52.83 at the NCAA Regional Championships last May. Not to be forgotten, Boatright’s time of 53.15 on Saturday was the fourth overall and the fourth fastest time in Arkansas history behind Cousins and two other times by Boatright.
“Well, the rain finally parted after three days and we were able to get some sun today,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “It was a very positive opener for us. We had great efforts in every aspect of the track and we had regional qualifiers all over the place. Jessica Cousins set the school record in the 400 meters and was a part of our 4×100-meter relay that ran much faster than they did all year last spring. I am very pleased with our effort.”
Also posting a huge mark in Tucson was javelin thrower Carly Bloomfield whose toss of 150 feet, two inches was not just a regional qualifier, but also the third best in Lady Razorback history. The mark was also a personal best for Bloomfield who topped out at 146-8 last spring at the SEC Championships, not bad for someone who has not competed in nearly eight months.
“Carly did a fantastic job,” Harter said. “With no indoor event equivalent to the javelin, Carly has had to sit back and watch since last June, but she has kept herself in fantastic shape and that was proven today.”
The Lady Razorback 4×100-meter relay was one of three Arkansas marks to win at the Jim Click. The relay team consisting of Lakeisha Martin, Peter-Gaye Beckford, Boatright and Cousins shocked those in attendance with a time of 44.67 for their victory. They were joined by Beckford in the long jump (20-0 ¼) and Paige Farrell in the 800 meters (2:08.39) as the other marks to take top honors. Beckford’s long jump was her best since she arrived at Arkansas in the fall while Farrell’s 800 was a great starting point for the Springdale, Ark., native who tends to run her best in May.
Of Arkansas’ 14 NCAA qualifiers, six came in the field events, two in the relays and six in the sprints and hurdles. The Lady Razorbacks looked strong in every aspect at the competition and that was proven by the fact that they outscored each of the five other women’s programs. Arkansas’ school tally of 143.5 points made up a majority of the SEC’s 245.5. The host Arizona scored 123 to push the Pac 10 into second while both Big 12 programs scored in the 110 range.
The Lady Razorbacks are back in action next weekend at the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to LADYBACKS.COM.