SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team fought through a tough first day of competition at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, Calif., on Wednesday, failing to qualify any of its four student-athletes at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex.
“This is a meet where you have to step up or be left behind,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter commented. “The conference championship forces you to step up from the regular season and then the regional meet makes you do it again. Now at the national championship you are asked to do it one more time and we just didn’t get it done today. Fortunately, a couple of these ladies have an opportunity to compete again in the 4×4 relay. They learned something today that I think will help them in the long run.”
Sophomore Tominque Boatright was the closest Lady Razorback to making a second round when she was the first non-qualifier to the semi-finals of the 400-meter dash. Running out of heat two, Boatright drew lane seven for her first round race and appeared to get a good start as she bolted out of the blocks and started to make up the stagger on the runner in lane eight. As the group reached the third turn, Boatright was shoulder-to-shoulder with lane eight, but lost ground to the middle lanes. Coming into the homestretch, Arkansas’ record holder fought off charges by several runners to take third in her heat, one spot out of the auto qualifier to the semifinals.
Clocking a time of 53.33, Boatright held the fourth fastest of the time qualifiers and was forced to wait through three additional heats before she would know her fate. Holding the sixth best time qualifier as the fifth heat of the competition stepped on the track, Boatright waited under the shade of a nearby tree as the third-place runner in the heat clocked 52.96 to advance, leaving Boatright out of the next round.
Getting Wednesday’s competition started for the Lady Razorbacks was sophomore Paige Farrell in the preliminary round of the 800 meters. Running in the first heat of the first event of the competition, Farrell started in lane two and raced to the front of the pack as the runners hit the break. She slipped back to third at the 200-meter mark, just a stride behind the leaders who were side-by-side and would stay there through the bell and around the curve to the backstretch. With 300 meters to go, several runners in the field made a break which Farrell was unable to counter immediately putting her at a disadvantage and dropping her back to seventh. Making a move of her own with 200 to go, Farrell would move up on the field, catching one runner, but missing the time she would need to qualify for Friday’s semifinal.
The 100-meter hurdles saw junior Tiavannia Thompson endure a tumultuous beginning, but still managed to improve on her seeding by a couple spots as she finished 23rd overall. Asked to stand up three times by the event’s starter, each of the seven runners in the field was thrown off their rhythm before they got started. One the race finally began; Thompson looked clean over the hurdles, but was a step behind from the start leading to her seventh-place finish in her heat with a time of 13.75.
Finishing out Arkansas’ first day was Christine Kalmer in the 5,000-meter run. Running in the second of two heats, Kalmer came in with one of the slower seed times and looked to pull the upset and earn a spot in the finals. Giving it her best shot for the opening mile, Kalmer was up with the lead pack before dropping back slightly. Realizing her mistake, Kalmer made a bold move out in lane two of the home stretch to move back into fifth position overall, but as the second mile began to wear on the field, Kalmer showed the effects of using the extra energy to get back into the race and she fell off the leaders pace. She would finish the competition 25th with a time of 17:00.73.
The NCAA Championships continue on Thursday with the qualifying round of the pole vault as well as prelims of the 1,500-meter run and 4×400-meter relay. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.