COLUMBIA, Mo. – Senior Carly Bloomfield and junior Peter-Gaye Beckford were the first two University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track athletes to earn a spot at the 2007 NCAA Championships on Friday as they finished 2-4 in the javelin competition at the NCAA Mideast Regional in Columbia, Mo.
Bloomfield had a huge toss of 160-7 for her second-place finish, which was also the second-best toss in Lady Razorback history behind her school record performance of two weeks ago at the SEC Championships. Beckford’s throw of 153-1 was also a very good toss and close to her personal best, but more importantly placed her fourth in the competition which guarantees a spot at the NCAA Championships.
“It was a good day today,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “The javelin was great and Peter-Gaye had a tremendous day. We have several qualified for tomorrow’s final and with the other events added in I feel really good about our chances.”
Arkansas’s 19 points on the first day put it in first place in the team standings, four ahead of second-place Purdue.
Beckford, who was certainly Arkansas’s busiest competitor on Friday, had a wonderful day as she not only scored in the javelin, but also in the long jump. In the event’s second of three flights, her mark of 19-6 in the prelims was one of the top nine jumps on the day and earned her a spot in the event finals. After a long break that included the javelin finals, Beckford was unable to improve on her preliminaries distance, but the jump earned her sixth-place in the competition giving Arkansas an additional three points and placing her on the bubble for the NCAA meet.
Christine Kalmer ended the first day of competition with the 5,000-meter run and took sixth place to give her an opportunity to qualify for the national championship. With west coast results still pending, it will be Saturday before her fate is decided but ranked 23rd on the national descending order list; she is in prime position to snag one of the at-large bids.
Impressive in her performance on Friday was Dacia Barr in the 1,500-meter run. Barr was obviously the runner which everyone watched in her heat as the pace went out slow and remained so as Barr lingered in third for the opening two laps. Moving up to the front, Barr’s move picked up some of the pace, then with 350 meters to go she grabbed a two stride lead on the field. Maintaining her cushion, Barr would cruise across the finish in a pedestrian 4:22.75 for the race victory but well off her season best of 4:14.97. What made Barr’s run so impressive was the look of ease that she gave off throughout the race and after as she walked off the track barely winded.
Also moving on to finals for Saturday were a pair of Lady Razorback 400-meter runners. Jessica Cousins and Tominque Boatright each earned their spots with their quality runs, Cousins clocking an automatic spot by winning her heat in 52.31 and Boatright with one of the three timed qualifiers at 53.02. Cousins’ time was the second-fastest in Arkansas history behind her SEC time of 52.06 and is also the second fastest of the preliminaries behind Mississippi’s Kenyata Coleman.
Arkansas’s 4×100-meter relay also clocked a qualifying mark on Friday night when they opened the day with a time of 44.76. Finishing second in their heat to Tennessee (44.11), Arkansas’s time was the third best of the competition and puts the quartet of LaKeisha Martin, Beckford, Boatright and Cousins in a prime position to score in the event finals Saturday afternoon.
On the list of just missed were Tiavannia Thompson in the 100-meter hurdles and Paige Farrell in the 800-meter dash. Both runners finished ninth in their races to place themselves one spot out of the event finals. Fortunately for Thompson her regular season time of 13.26 is likely good enough to give her one of the at-large berths for the NCAA Championships, but Farrell’s time is thought to be on the outside looking in.
The NCAA Mideast Regional concludes on Saturday in Columbia, Mo. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to LADYBACKS.COM.