FAYETTEVILLE – Led by a trio of NCAA provisional qualifiers, the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team exceeded expectations on the first day of the Razorback Invitational on Friday evening at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.
Seniors Beyonka McDowell and Brandy Blackwood and junior Laura Jakosky each met the NCAA standard on the first of two days of competition. McDowell started the day off in the pentathlon where she blew past a personal best by more than 200 points to qualify in just her second attempt at the event. Blackwood threw the 20-pound weight four feet further than her previous best to qualify and Jakosky put together a lifetime best in the 5,000 meters.
“This was another great day for us,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “We opened the season well last weekend and these young ladies continued to excel. I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do tomorrow.”
McDowell’s pentathlon of 3,827 points was well above the NCAA provisional mark of 3,700 putting her in a strong position to be included at the NCAA Championships. Winning two of the five events, McDowell looked very strong in the 60-meter hurdles where she was a mere 0.03 seconds off her school record for a combined event, then took first in the shot put where she was just three inches off the all-time Lady’Back record. She also looked strong in the long jump where she finished second overall.
“The long day caught up to Beyonka at the end,” Harter said. “But to set a personal best by 300 points this early is very impressive.” Blackwood’s throw was perhaps the most impressive performance of the day as she tossed the weight 64 feet, ½ inch to record the second best toss in Arkansas history. Throwing a career best last weekend when she barely eclipsed the 60-foot mark, Blackwood put a pair of throws beyond that standard on Friday.
“Heavens, she continues to get better every day,” Harter said of Blackwood’s performance.
Jakosky capped off the Arkansas qualifiers when she cruised to victory in the 5,000 in 16:36.90, 13 seconds ahead of her previous best. Running in second and drafting off the leader for most of the competition, Jakosky made her move with 800 meters left taking the lead and leaving the competition well behind. Slightly behind the NCAA provisional qualifying pace with three laps to go, Jakosky put together three consecutive laps where she ran faster for each 200 meters. Closing strong, she crossed the line three seconds ahead of the second-place finisher.
Arkansas’ competition closed with the distance medley relay where a pair of Arkansas teams finished second and third just off the NCAA provisional mark. Split evenly, Arkansas’ “B” team would cross the line first as the team of Dacia Barr, Aneita Denton, Paige Farrell and Maureen Scott ran 11:49.05. Denton and Farrell looked especially strong in the 400 and 800-meter portions of the race with Farrell splitting 2:10 in her first collegiate 800-meter run.
The Razorback Invitational continues on Saturday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.