FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas Razorback senior Katie Stripling and junior Shelise Williams picked up the 2010 indoor season right where they left off during the 2009 outdoor season at Friday’s Arkansas Invitational at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
"We had a really strong start to our season today," head coach Lance Harter said. "We had a lot of our younger student-athletes competing and they did a stand-up job. We had great performances out of Shelise Williams in the 400 meters, Stephanie Brown in the 800 meters and Katie Stripling in the pole vault. This is a great starting out point for us."
The No. 17 Razorback women’s track and field team picked up four NCAA leaders, two NCAA automatic qualifiers, two NCAA provisional qualifiers and six event wins.
Williams clocked a 400-meter time of 53.29 to win the event. Her time is a personal best, an NCAA provisional qualifier and is currently the No. 1 time in the NCAA. In her Arkansas debut, freshman Stephanie Brown clocked the NCAA’s fastest time in the 800 meters. She won the race with an NCAA provisional-qualifying time of 2:08.65.
"I had a good Christmas break and I’m still on west coast time," Williams said. "But I’m happy to get this provisional qualifier out of the way. Coach and I wanted the provisional and I knew I was ready to run fast. I just didn’t know it would be this fast. This is a great start to the season but I know I still have work to do and a long season ahead of me."
Stripling won the pole vault with a clearance of 14-1.25. Her jump is the NCAA leader and an NCAA automatic qualifier. She led a 1-2-4-7 finish for Arkansas in the event. Sophomore Tina Sutej was second with an NCAA automatic-qualifying and personal-best height of 13-11.25. She ranks No. 2 in the NCAA and broke her own Slovenian National record of 13-9.25. Senior Janice Keppler finished fourth with a clearance of 12-7.5 and junior Kristen Keith was seventh with a height of 10-10.
"This is a great start for us," assistant coach Bryan Compton said. "I think they were a little nervous today because they have such high expectations of themselves. This was a good chance to put the bar up and work on some poles. We have qualifiers for Katie and Tina so they can go back to training. We want to work on raising their grip and getting better on the runway. All-in-all this was a good start for what we want to accomplish this season."
Sophomore Kristen Gillespie, in her UA debut, won the mile with a time of 4:50.75, just off the provisional qualifier of 4:47. She clocked the NCAA leader and led a 1-2-3-4 finish for Arkansas in the event. Senior Megan Jackson was second (5:00.70), freshman Cali George was third (5:06.31) and freshman Taylor Johnson was fourth (5:11.88).
Freshman Regina George won the 600 meters in her Arkansas debut. She clocked a winning time of 1:30.36. She also finished fourth in the high jump with a clearance of 5-4.25. Sophomore Samantha Learch clocked a personal-best time of 2:52.91 to win the 1,000-meter run.
Junior transfer Shantel Thompson made her Razorback debut on Friday. She earned silver finishes in the high jump and the long jump. She cleared 5-6 and jumped 19-7. Her long jump mark is tied for the eighth-best mark in the NCAA.
Senior Karen Thomas finished fourth in the 400 meters with a clocking of 56.11 and seventh in the 200 meters (25.10). Sophomore Brittany Hyter was second in the 60-meter hurdles with a personal-best time of 8.62 in the finals and 8.70 in the prelims and was eighth in the 400 meters with a personal-best time of 57.70.
Also making their Razorback debuts were freshmen Martine Borge (600 meters, 1:39.55), Gwendolyn Flowers (200 meters, 25.76), Caroline McCombs (long jump, 17-4.75), Leah Orley (high jump, 5-2.25; 60-meter hurdles, 9.14p/9.07f) and Rachel Werner (60 meters, 7.86p and 7.83f; 200 meters, 25.80).