FAYETTEVILLE – The fourth-ranked University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team is back on the road this weekend as it travels to the Big Apple, New York City, for the New Balance Collegiate Invitational at the world-renowned Armory.
The trip is Arkansas’ fourth consecutive to the New Balance meet which attracts some of the best schools in the nation including seven top 25 squads in 2008.
“There will be 40 teams at the Armory this weekend,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “The best of the best going head-to-head. I am looking forward to seeing what we can do in the sprints and jumps this weekend. I believe that our vault crew is ready to go as are the sprinters. The mile relay should be very entertaining with each of the top four teams in the country going against each other.”
The Lady Razorbacks have always been competitive at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational which is one of the few regular season track events that keeps a team score. Last winter Arkansas finished third behind collegiate powerhouses LSU and Texas A&M. In 2006, the Lady’Backs finished a program high second at the meet and has not finished outside the top five in any of the past four seasons.
For Arkansas to continue its excellence at the New Balance, it will have to get great performances from its sprints and field event personnel. Those squads will have only limited help from Arkansas’ distance team who raced last weekend in Seattle, Wash., and are now preparing for the Tyson Invitational.
Leading the way for the Lady’Backs is two-time defending New Balance pole vault champion Stephanie Irwin who hopes to defend her title yet again. In 2007 Irwin jumped 13 feet, 3 ½ inches for her title but will likely have to go higher than that on Saturday afternoon if she is to beat a national-class field. Also looking to keep Irwin from the title are teammates Katie Stripling and Tara Diebold.
Competition at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational begins on Friday morning at 11:30 a.m. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.