FAYETTEVILLE – Headlined by the fourth fastest 60-meter hurdles time in University of Arkansas history by senior Kasia Williams, the Lady Razorback track team enjoyed another day of splendid performances at the Razorback Invitational on Saturday afternoon at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
Williams, who had held the fifth-fastest mark coming into the meet, put together her two fastest times of the year on way to the individual championship against some of the nation’s best hurdlers. Running 8.39 during prelims, Williams came back in the finals and dropped a tenth of a second from her initial time to 8.29, a strong provisional qualifier.
“Kasia is well ahead of schedule,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “She looks very strong and I expect her to get faster as the season goes along. She was just one aspect of a great weekend that saw us qualify seven athletes for the NCAA Championships.”
The time that Williams ran should place her among the nation’s leaders this early in the season and breaks up a stranglehold of the top four times that was held by former Lady Razorback hurdler Kyla Shoemake.
Not to be outdone by her teammate, fellow senior Aneita Denton used a fabulous pace set by an LSU runner through 600 meters to clock the fifth fastest 800-meter run in UA history. Denton ran 2:07.55, by far her best performance indoors to provisionally qualify for the NCAA Championships and win the 800-meter title. Just a stride behind the LSU runner through most of the race, Denton made a surge with 200 meters to go and sprinted the final quarter of the race record her record time.
“Aneita continues to improve with each race,” Harter said. “We finally have her figured out from a medical perspective and she has certainly come through for us.”
Arkansas’ pole vaulters also looked very good as they took four of the top five places in their event. Contrary to the sprints, it was youth that ruled the day in the vault as freshman Danielle O’Reilly and sophomore Jodi Driggers tied for the win with NCAA provisional clearances of 12-11 ½. Both vaulters did not miss a bar until they attempted to clear 13 feet giving them a tie. Sophomore Stacie Manuel finished third in the competition and freshman Stephanie Irwin finished tied for fourth with a clearance of 12-1 ½, a personal best at Arkansas.
Rounding out a string of impressive Arkansas performances, the Lady Razorback milers also faired well at home. Led by junior Maureen Scott, Arkansas placed three runners in the top five with Scott taking the victory in 4:59.88. Penny Splichal and Laura Jakosky finished third and fifth respectively to complete Arkansas’ showing.
Arkansas’ final race of the day was the 4×400-meter relay where the squad of Paige Farrell, Tominque Boatright, Lakeisha Martin and Denton won the race with a near-NCAA provisional time of 3:42.35. Farrell got Arkansas off to a fabulous start coming out of the blocks with a split of 54.9 before handing off to Boatright who was impeded by an LSU runner, but still ran a 55-second split. Martin kept Arkansas in the race before handing off to Denton who ran 53-second anchor.
The Lady Razorbacks are back in action on Friday, February 4, when they travel to the Big Apple to take part in a meet at the Armory in New York City. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.