PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – In an attempt to win its third Penn Relays Wagon Wheel, the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team sent a strong lineup to the line in the distance medley relay but it wasn’t enough to overcome stellar anchor legs as it finished fourth on Thursday afternoon in Philadelphia, Pa.
“Overall this was a good day,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “It would have been nice to win the DMR, but you can’t complain about what we did today. We picked up a regional qualifier and had several good races.”
Opening the relay with senior Erica Sigmont, Arkansas got off to a fast start as the Penn Relays veteran went straight to the front of the field and was in the lead at the break. Sigmont would continue to lead through most of the first leg before handing off to freshman Paige Farrell, two tenths of a second behind Duke.
Farrell’s leg left no doubt in Arkansas’ coaches minds that the Springdale, Ark., native was ready to compete at the highest levels as she clocked the race’s second fastest recorded split at 54.0. Farrell took the lead early in her lap around the Franklin Field Track and gave the Lady Razorbacks a 15-meter lead at the second exchange.
Arkansas used Aneita Denton for the 800-meter portion of the race and after a splendid 59-second first lap slowed slightly in the second, but still managed to give Arkansas a lead as freshman Dacia Barr took the baton. Running against three NCAA mile finalists, Barr was left to the lions as Duke, North Carolina and Villanova each trailed Arkansas’ novice and allowed her to deal with the blustery conditions on the track. Barr would lead for most of her four-lap race before being passed by the three runners with 450 meters to go.
“Dacia had it tough today,” Harter said. “The other runners just sat on her and used her as a wind barrier. She ran right at her career best for 1,600 meters, but was going against NCAA finalists. I’m really proud of what the entire DMR did today.”
In the pole vault, the Lady Razorbacks were seeking a third straight Penn Relays individual title in the event and sophomore Stacie Manuel was there to defend her crown, but just missed finishing second to Kansas’ Amy Linnen. The duo would go bar-for-bar until clearing 13-5.25, then passing on the next two heights. Moving the bar to 13-10, Linnen cleared the height on her first attempt, but Manuel was unable to make her outdoor career best mark giving her second place.
Lady Razorback sophomore Jodi Driggers and freshman Danielle O’Reilly would tie for fifth with clearances of 12-3.5.
The 5,000-meter run yielded Arkansas’ lone addition to the NCAA regional qualifiers list when Jessie Gordon finished eighth in a time of 16:44.23. A career best for the Ardmore, Okla., native, Gordon’s time is Arkansas’ 26th NCAA qualifier of the season. Finishing fourth in the competition was Alison Zeinner-Rush who clocked 16:37.13. A season and career best time, Rush improved two seconds from her mark of two weeks ago at the Mt. SAC Relays.
The Lady Razorbacks continue action at the Penn Relays and begin their pursuit of Drake Relay titles on Friday. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.