FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas Razorback junior Katie Stripling started off the 2009 track and field season on the right foot as she punched her ticket to the NCAA Championships at Friday’s Arkansas Invitational.
"For as tired and worn-out as our kids are, while they are under the greatest volume of training, we had some pretty good performances tonight," head coach Lance Harter said. "We had some really positive signs across the board. The vaulters were near perfect but there were also some really positive things in our young sprints and jumps crews. I think we are right on cue."
Stripling, a Jonesboro, Ark. native, cleared 13-9.25, a personal best, to earn her spot at the NCAA Championships in March. She also led four of her teammates in a 1-2-3-4-7 Arkansas finish. The second-, third- and fourth-place finishers hit the NCAA provisional mark of 12-11.5.
Freshman Tina Sutej, a midyear transfer, finished second with her provisional height of 13-5.25 in her Arkansas debut. Sophomore Tara Diebold was third, clearing 12-11.5 and senior Sarah Landau cleared the same bar for a fourth-place finish.
"It was great to see our vault crew come out and perform to such high standards," Harter said. "To get an automatic mark and three high provisional clearances, I couldn’t have asked for me. Coach (Bryan) Compton does such a great job with our vault crew. They were really a highlight of the meet for us."
Senior Peter-Gaye Beckford led a 1-3 Arkansas finish in the long jump. She won the event with a mark of 19-9.5, just missing the NCAA provisional mark. Freshman Whitney Jones, in her Arkansas debut, earned the bronze finish with a jump of 18-10.75.
Catherine White, making her track debut after an outstanding cross country season, won the mile run with a time of 4:53.42. She paced her teammates to second- (Megan Jackson), third- (Jillian Rosen) and fourth-place (Denise Bargiachi) finishes.
For complete results of the Arkansas Invitational and more information about Arkansas track and field, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.