EUGENE, Ore. – The No. 8 University of Arkansas women’s track and field team closed out competition at the 2011 NCAA West Preliminary Round with four more national qualifiers Saturday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. The team picked up two qualifying marks in the 1,500 meters, one in the 100-meter hurdles and another in the 4×400 relay. The Razorbacks earned a total of 11 spots into the national meet during the weekend, and will have 12 entries in the NCAA Championships with the addition of Makeba Alcide in the heptathlon.
"As coaches, we’re pretty optimistic when we sit down to do our projections for a meet," head coach Lance Harter said. "Even so, our athletes exceeded even our most optimistic expectations. That’s really fun when those things come together. They fought well and some of the kids had to dig down to run lifetime or season bests."
The Razorbacks began their day with two qualifying runs by Kristen Gillespie and Jillian Rosen in the 1,500 meters, Gillespie clocked a time of 4:18.13, good for third in the heat and third overall, while Rosen grabbed the 10th overall spot with an at-large effort of 4:22.04. She finished sixth in the second heat. Samantha Learch ran to a time of 4:24.87 to finish 17th overall and will not advance to the national meet.
Ivanique Kemp continued her freshman outdoor season with a fifth-place overall finish in the 100-meter hurdles to move on to the NCAA Championships. She finished third in heat one with a time of 13.20, just .03 off her personal best run earlier this month at the Arkansas Twilight. Teammate Brittany Hyter finished 14th overall, just out of qualifying position. She did secure a spot at the national meet Friday in the 400-meter hurdles.
Arkansas added its final national qualifier with its 4×400-meter relay. The team of Regina George, Shelise Williams, Gwendolyn Flowers and Whitney Jones turned in the top qualifying time of 3:33.17 on its way to winning heat two. The Razorbacks finished more than three seconds ahead of the runner-up team in the heat. Arkansas will enter the NCAA Championships with the No. 2 time in the country, the 3:28.63 effort from the Drake Relays.
Along with the national qualifiers collected this weekend, the Razorbacks will also have Alcide competing in Des Moines in the heptathlon. She holds the No. 6 figure in the country with her 5,646 points scored at the SEC Championships.
"Over the next two weeks, we will work on getting everyone healthy and there’s always some fine tuning to do," Harter said. "I think we come out of this meet with a lot of confidence but we need to continue to bolster that confidence because the next challenge is another step higher."
Arkansas returns to action June 8-11 to close out the season at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa. The top 24 competitors in each event-both regions combined-will compete at the national meet for individual and team honors. For more information and continued coverage, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
NCAA Championship qualifiers (top 12 in each event)1,500 Meters3. Kristen Gillespie, 4:18.1310. Jillian Rosen, 4:22.04
100-Meter Hurdles5. Ivanique Kemp, 13.20
4×400-Meter Relay1. Regina George-Shelise Williams-Gwendolyn Flowers-Whitney Jones, 3:33.17
400 Meters – from Friday2. Regina George, 52.313. Whitney Jones, 52.4113. Shelise Williams, 53.98
800 Meters – from Friday1. Stephanie Brown, 2:02.59
400-Meter Hurdles – from Friday5. Brittany Hyter, 57.63
Pole Vault – from Friday3. Tina Sutej, 13-5.25 (4.10m)5. Tara Diebold, 13-5.25 (4.10m)
Heptathlon6. Makeba Alcide, 5,646 points