FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas distance medley relay team got exactly what it needed and more at the Alex Wilson Invitational in South Bend, Ind., on Friday night as it ran a NCAA provisional qualifier of 11:13.17.
The time by Dacia Barr, Jessica Cousins, Paige Farrell and Christine Kalmer is the sixth fastest in the nation at this point and just about guarantees the Lady Razorback relay a spot at the NCAA Championships next weekend in Fayetteville. Not only does the mark rank high in terms of NCAA standing this winter, it is also the fourth fastest time in Lady Razorback history.
“We got what we came for,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “We got the NCAA qualifier that we needed, but I really feel that we can run faster. With better competition I think that we can go several seconds faster. The biggest thing is that this gives us another chance to score at the national championship.”
Leading off the relay was Barr whose 1,200-meter leg of 3:21 placed the Lady Razorbacks well out in front of their competition. Coming off a tremendous Southeastern Conference Championship, Barr didn’t suffer from a post-meet let down and handed off the baton with Arkansas in first place.
Arkansas’ newly crowned 400-meter record holder, Cousins, took the stick for the next portion of the race and put together another solid quarter mile at 53.6 to maintain the Lady Razorback lead and position. Farrell was next in line for the Lady Razorbacks and with a solid lead already in place her job was to keep the intensity up and Arkansas on pace to procure a qualifier. Doing her job to perfection, Farrell clocked a 2:09.1 split to keep the Lady Razorbacks in the lead and on task.
Kalmer ran the anchor leg for the Lady Razorbacks and her time of 4:46 was just what Arkansas needed to earn a spot at the NCAA Championships. With the sixth best time in the nation, it would be hard for Arkansas to get knocked out of the top 10 which are guaranteed a spot at the national championship. Only last chance meets at the Univ. of Washington, Iowa State Univ. and Virginia Tech remain before the selections are announced Monday evening.
At the Arkansas Last Chance Qualifier in Fayetteville, redshirt freshman Katie Stripling cleared a career best 12-8 ¼, to finish seventh overall. Nearly two inches over her previous best, Stripling was one of five athletes to clear the bar, but finished seventh based on misses. The mark was short of the NCAA provisional standard.
The Lady Razorbacks continue to seek last chance meet qualifiers at Iowa State on Saturday evening. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to LADYBACKS.COM.