FAYETTEVILLE — The 10th-ranked University of Arkansas enjoyed a final day of preparation before embarking on the program’s second consecutive appearance at the 2006 NCAA Championship in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday. Arkansas, duplicated last year’s efforts with an eighth place regional finish, is looking to improve on 2005’s 11th-place showing in Oregon. "The key at the National Championship is to remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint," said Arkansas head coach Kelley Hester. "We’re excited about heading to Ohio and can’t wait to see what happens." Arkansas opened the year with a solid fall campaign but the spring scores didn’t meet all of Hester’s expectations. "I hate to focus on the negative," she said, "but we’ve really played less than stellar lately. We did have some individual heroics at Regionals. Courtney (Mahon) holed out on 15 and played the back nine at three-under and we really needed Amanda’s (McCurdy) 69 in the first round." Arkansas battled at the West Regional earning the NCAA selection by two strokes. The Lady’Backs opened with a 299 but shot 307-305 over the next two rounds just making the cut. "We were as cool as a cucumber," said Hester of the Regional. "We didn’t get rattled when things didn’t go our way. We wouldn’t have gotten to Nationals if we were any less experienced. The golf gods seemed to have it in for us but we never let it get to us." Seniors McCurdy and Mahon along with sophomore Stacy Lewis have paced Arkansas in nearly every event for the last two seasons. Also traveling this week is senior Lindsey Hinshaw and sophomore Ashley Medders for Arkansas. Medders is the lone newcomer to the NCAA Championship lineup replacing Hot Springs, Ark., native Gena Johnson who graduated last year. This year’s field will challenge the Lady’Backs but not with anything new. Arkansas has faced all of the teams in the championship, a few like Georgia, five times this season. The field features top-ranked Duke along with No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 Arizona State, No. 4 Auburn, No. 5 Southern California, No. 6 Georgia, No. 7 Purdue, No. 8 Pepperdine, No. 9 Tennessee and, of course, No. 10 Arkansas. Eleventh-ranked California, No. 12 Texas A&M, No. 13 Wake Forest and No. 14 UNLV also earned a trip. The championship field also features seven Southeastern Conference teams. In addition to Auburn, Georiga, Tennessee and Arkansas, No. 16 Florida, No. 29 LSU and No. 33 Alabama made the cut. The Pacific-10 Conference earned six spots. "We compete in a very strong conference," said Hester. "Seven SEC teams got in — 10 went to Regionals. It’s a real testament to the talent-level in our league." Play begins Tuesday at 9:00 a.m., with the Lady’Backs starting on the 10th hole. Arkansas is paired with Nebraska and Alabama for the first two rounds. Arkansas tees off Wednesday beginning at 1:10 p.m., from the first hole and teams will be re-paired for the final two rounds. For more information about Arkansas golf, log on to LADYBACKS.COM.