FAYETTEVILLE – The No. 9 University of Arkansas women’s track and field team collected four wins Saturday at the Razorback Spring Invitational, the outdoor home opener for the team. The Razorbacks came away with victories by Brittany Hyter in the 100-meter hurdles, Shelise Williams in the 400 meters, Tina Sutej in the pole vault and the 4×400-meter relay.
"We’re real thankful for the great weather today," head coach Lance Harter said. "We had some athletes interchanging in some different events and different positions. One of the highlights was Shelise’s quarter. She put up a national leader but she knows she can go faster. We have a lot of positive momentum heading into Texas next week."
Sutej made her individual outdoor debut with a victory in the pole vault. She had a clearance of 14-1.25 to lead a sweep of the top two spots for Arkansas. Dating back to the indoor season, Sutej has now won all eight competitions she has entered this year. Tara Diebold finished second in the event with a clearance of 13-9.25, an outdoor personal-best jump.
Arkansas’ second win of the day came from Hyter in the 100-meter hurdles. Running in section one of the timed final, she posted the top mark in a time of 13.43. Ivanique Kemp followed with a 13.54, good for second place. The Razorbacks had two other top-six efforts from Breeana Coleman in fifth and Makeba Alcide in sixth. Alcide’s time of 14.11 is a personal best.
Williams and Whitney Jones returned to the track to finish 1-3 in the 400 meters. Williams took the top spot with a time of 52.50. In addition to the season-best clocking, Williams now owns the No. 1 time in the NCAA based on marks entering the weekend. Jones finished third, and was the second-best collegiate runner, with a time of 54.07.
The Razorbacks closed their day on the track with a victory in the 4×400-meter relay. Hyter, Williams, Jones and Gwendolyn Flowers passed the baton around the track in a time of 3:37.25, an improvement of the team’s effort last weekend in the season opener at Stanford.
In the day’s first event on the track, Arkansas came away with a third-place finish in the 4×100-meter relay. Sutej, Williams, Kemp and Jones combined for a time of 44.80, an improvement on its mark from a week ago. The performance is better than the fastest time run by the Razorbacks last season.
Flowers ran to a personal best in the 200 meters. She won heat two in a time of 24.04 and finished third overall. Kemp followed by taking the tape in the third section in a time of 24.13, the fourth-fastest overall time of the day. Down at 15th place, Coleman posted a personal-best time of 24.91.
In the 800 meters, Kristen Gillespie was the runner-up in a time of 2:09.31. She was trailed by teammate Jillian Rosen who crossed in third place. Running in just the second open half-mile of her collegiate career, Rosen clocked in at 2:10.84, a personal best.
The Razorbacks had a pair of top-five performers in the 1,500 meters. Paige Johnson finished second overall in the event with a time of 4:30.05 and Samantha Learch was fourth with a time of 4:33.04. Arkansas tallied seven top-20 finishers, including a pair of personal-best performances from Megan Jackson (4:37.84) and Natanya Luther (4:38.23).
With a nearly 10-foot personal best, Leah Orley finished second in the javelin ahead of teammate Rebecca Gorden. Orley had a throw of 127-4 in her second attempt of the day and maintained the runner-up spot throughout the remainder of the competition. Gorden finished third with a best throw of 126-6, also a personal best.
Hyter was back on the track for a fifth-place finish in the 400-meter hurdles. She clocked a seasonal-best time of 1:01.06 as the team’s top performer in the event. Orley also ran to a season-best clocking of 1:02.81 and a seventh-place result.
In the long jump, Shantel Thompson finished second overall and was the top collegiate performer with a day’s best mark of 19-7.5. Preparing for heptathlon competition later this season, Orley and Alcide finished in sixth and ninth place, respectively. Orley’s mark of 17-9.5 is a personal best for the sophomore Razorback. Thompson also turned in a third-place finish in the triple jump. In the high jump, Kirsten Hesseltine was among a group tied at fourth place with a 5-3 clearance.
The Razorback Spring Invitational marks the first of three home meets for Arkansas this season. The Razorbacks return to action next week for the 84th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays which will be held April 6-9 at Mike A. Myers Track Stadium in Austin. For more information and continued coverage, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.