FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas women’s track and field team collected eight wins Friday at the season-opening Arkansas Invitational. Senior Whitney Jones led the way with three victories while Stephanie Brown set a school record in the 1,000 meters.
"I think we got a lot of things done today," head coach Lance Harter said. "We’re looking forward to the season now. Sometimes these first meets serve as a wake-up call. Some of the kids just got back here a few days ago so it was a matter of getting some of the rust off. We had some really nice openers, including Ivy Kemp with an excellent effort in the hurdles and Stephanie Brown in the 1,000 meters with a big PR."
Ivanique Kemp opened the running events with a victory in the 60-meter hurdles. She ran to a personal-best time of 8.36 to post the Razorbacks’ second win of the day. The time for Kemp is also the No. 2 time in the nation through the early stages of the 2012 campaign. Makeba Alcide crossed in a time of 8.94 to finish in fourth place in the hurdle event.
To begin her senior year, Whitney Jones was a triple winner with her efforts in the 400 meters, long jump and with the 4×400-meter relay. Running in the opening heat of the timed finals, Jones crossed first in a national-leading time of 54.85. Earlier in the day, she also posted a victory in the long jump with a day’s best mark of 5.72m (18-9.25) in the fifth round of jumps.
The Razorbacks picked up five of the top-seven finishes in the 400 meters. Including Jones, Gwendolyn Flowers finished in second place with a time of 55.38 and Rachel Werner rounded out the top three in 55.95. Phyllis George made her collegiate debut with a time of 58.01, good for fifth place, and Bethany Hyter crossed in seventh place overall.
In her second race of the day, Flowers ran to a time of 24.27 to win the 200 meters. Her time was just .01 seconds ahead of the second-place competitor. Kemp, back on the track from her victory in the 60-meter hurdles, finished fourth at 200 meters with a time of 24.48, a personal-best effort.
Brown set the school record in the 1,000 meters with her first-place effort of 2:42.83. She replaced the previous mark of 2:43.82 set by Melody Sye in 1987. Brown finished nearly 20 seconds ahead of her near competitor in Friday’s race. Martine Borge had a personal-best time of 1:31.35 in the 600 meters to finish in second place. Alcide, competing in her third event of the day, ran to a fourth-place finish in the event with a time of 1:37.40.
The foursome of Borge, Jones, Rachel Werner and Flowers combined for a time of 3:41.44 to win the 4×400-meter relay in the final event of the night. The time represents the second-best relay time in the country this season.
In the first result of the season, Kirsten Hesseltine tied her collegiate personal best with a clearance of 1.70m (5-7) to win the high jump. She led a field that included freshman teammate Chelsey Roberts who finished in fourth place with a clearance of 1.65m (5-5). Amalie Skage made her collegiate debut with a second-place showing in the triple jump. She had a day’s best of 12.26m (40-2.75) in her final jump of the competition.
Grace Heymsfield posted the final individual win of the day for Arkansas with her victory in the mile. She crossed in a personal-best time of 5:01.55, more than four seconds ahead of teammate and event runner-up Diane Robison who made her Razorback debut in a time of 5:05.92. Rachel Carpino rounded out the Arkansas runners with a time of 5:19.80, good for seventh place.
In the pole vault, Tara Diebold led a 2-3 finish for Arkansas with a clearance of 4.05m (13-3.5) in her season opener. Sophomore Danielle Nowell turned in a bronze performance with a personal-best clearance. She cleared 3.90m (12-9.5) to establish a new personal best.
A pair of Razorback freshman made their debuts with Jeriann Okoro and Shekara Boakye in the 60 meters. Both advanced out of the preliminary rounds to earn spots in the finals. Okoro finished fourth in the event final with a time of 7.66 while Boakye clocked in at 7.84 to finish in sixth place overall.
The Razorbacks return to action next weekend with the two-day Kentucky Invitational in Lexington, Ky.For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.