FAYETTEVILLE – It was a rough distance medley relay, in more ways than one, for the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships on Friday at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
The Lady Razorbacks finished 11th as a team and junior Tominque Boatright looked like a linebacker taking down an opposing running back as she crashed into another runner during the relay exchange, then kept going, running a very good 400-meter leg.
“I knew that the distance medley relay was going to be a really tough event for us to score in,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “The difference between us and the rest of the field is that most of them have great milers. If we wanted to score big points we were going to have to build up a big lead and in this field that was nearly impossible.”
Dacia Barr led the relay off for the Lady Razorbacks and after a slow start, she methodically moved her way up the field. By the second lap she was in the middle of the pack and looked very strong as she moved her way to the front. By lap three she as in third place, holding off several runners, but the energy expended in her charge to the front would catch up to her slightly by the time she handed off.
Boatright took the baton and as she turned to run her 400-meter leg, she ran directly into Baylor’s 1,200-meter runner. The impact sent Baylor’s runner sprawling to the track and Boatright was forced to compose herself and step over the prone distance runner. The collision gave up precious seconds to Arkansas’ relay and put the Lady Razorbacks in the back of the pack.
The third exchange was taken by Paige Farrell who continued to show vast improvements from the start of the indoor season. Farrell moved her way up the field as well, making a bold move with 400 meters left in her 800. The quick burst put the Lady Razorbacks in the top four, but her opponents countered the rush 250 meters later and Farrell handed off in the middle of the pack.
Christine Kalmer’s leg of the race looked promising early, but the star-studded mile field would catch the Lady Razorbacks with three laps to go and take the race to the end. Arkansas finished the competition with a very good time of 11:16.89, but no where near the American record of North Carolina (10:59.46).
Arkansas’ only other competitor on the evening was senior Jessica Cousins in the 400-meter dash. Looking to improve upon her sterling Southeastern Conference Championship performances, Cousins would have a good race to do it in as she chased the world leader in the event Natasha Hastings of South Carolina. Starting off slowly, Cousins picked up momentum down the back stretch and made up considerable ground on the second turn.
At the 200-meter mark, Cousins was shoulder-to-shoulder with Kentucky’s Jenna Martin and made a strong move on the inside to take third early in the second lap. Making up even more room on the backstretch, Cousins ran up on the second-place runner and had to break stride momentarily costing her precious seconds. She would pass the second-place runner coming off the final turn and race down the homestretch to finish second in her heat behind Hastings in the third fastest time in Lady Razorback history. Cousins would clock 53.04 to finish seventh overall and qualify for Saturday’s final.
The NCAA Championships conclude on Saturday at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to LADYBACKS.COM.