AUSTIN, Texas – The University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team got off to a fast start at the 78th annual Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays on Thursday evening when the 4×800-meter relay ran away with the first relays championship of the weekend in a near school-record time of 8:38.03.
Using a team with a good balance of youth and leadership, Arkansas put four all-Americans on the track in freshmen Paige Farrell and Dacia Barr, and seniors Erica Sigmont and Aneita Denton. Book ending the relay with a pair of NCAA 800-meter qualifiers from the indoor season, Arkansas’ quartet came into the race with the best time of the competition and didn’t disappoint as they stayed at the front throughout the race.
"That was a great effort by our team," Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. "I thought that our freshmen did a great job of positioning for our seniors and that they didn’t panic when the other teams ran well. It was a huge breakthrough for Erica Sigmont and Aneita looked like a national champion on the anchor. This gives us a lot of momentum for tomorrow."
Farrell led off the race from an outside lane and immediately took to the front of the pack with several others. Racing in second through the first lap, she took the lead briefly with 300-meters to go in her leg, eventually handing off in third with a split of 2:10. Barr was next and the Austin, Texas, native was eager to please the hometown crowd. Barr was quick from the outset, catching the leaders by the 200-meter mark and running with a pack of five runners. Using a strong kick, Barr handed off the baton in second position to Sigmont.
After the first 400 meters of Sigmont’s leg, the race was decided as she took a commanding lead following her first lap. Opening up more than a 20-meter advantage, Sigmont continued to push the tempo of the race before handing to Denton, the NCAA indoor 800-meter champion. Running in cruise control, Denton anchored the relay in 2:04 to pick up Arkansas’ second relays championship in school history.
Over in the weight throw, senior Brandy Blackwood posted a mark of 186 feet, one inch to finish third overall with another NCAA regional qualifying mark. Blackwood’s mark was the fourth best in school history, just three feet behind the school record of Marie LeJour set in 2002.
Arkansas’ final competitor of the day was freshman Beth Fahey in the 5,000-meter run. Competing in just her first collegiate track event as a Lady’Back, Fahey ran 18:08.19 to finish 17th overall.
"Brandy struggled a little in prelims and then really came through during finals," Harter said. "Beth ran well for her first race, but panicked a little in the middle. That is just something she’ll figure out over time."
For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.