SACRAMENTO, Calif. – With nine student-athletes prepared for the final competition of the season at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, the University of Arkansas women’s track coaches know that their work is far from done in Sacramento, Calif.
The Lady Razorback staff was surprised when it learned that it would be sending nine women to compete in Sacramento, but know that getting there is just the first step of the ultimate goal, an NCAA title. While Arkansas’ chances at that elusive championship may be a long shot, the experiences gained by its group of mostly freshmen and sophomores could provide a wealth of knowledge which could lead to bigger and better things down the road.
“This year we are looking to score as many points as we can, obviously, but also to focus on what it takes to make it through the rounds of competition and make the finals,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “We can’t score any points unless we make the finals so that is our goal. If we can pick up two points here and three points there, I don’t see why this group of young women can’t be among the top 20 in the nation.”
Arkansas’ NCAA contingent is made up of four juniors, four sophomores and a freshman and the nine are scheduled to compete in six individual events and a relay. Of the individual competitors, only two are juniors with the other four freshmen or sophomores which guarantee Arkansas something for the 2007 season which it did not have in 2006 and that is extensive experience at the national level.
Leading the charge for the Lady Razorbacks in Sacramento has to be the all-American quartet of junior Jodi Unger, and sophomores Dacia Barr, Tominque Boatright and Paige Farrell. Unger and Boatright each earned honors this winter at the NCAA Indoor meet in the pole vault and 400 meters, respectively, while Barr and Farrell were anointed with the honor at the 2005 NCAA Indoor Championships as a part of Arkansas’ distance medley relay.
Scheduled to compete at the NCAA meet are Barr in the 1,500, Boatright in the 400 and 4×4 relay, Jessica Cousins in the 4×4, Farrell in the 800 and 4×4 relay, Christine Kalmer in the 5,000, Lakeisha Martin in the 4×4, Sasha Rolle in the relay, Tiavannia Thompson in the 100 hurdles and Unger in the pole vault.
Farrell begins Arkansas’ quest for national attention on Wednesday afternoon with the preliminaries of the 800-meter run beginning at 3:40 p.m. pacific and kicks off a series of four events in which Arkansas participates. Action continues through Saturday afternoon where the NCAA track season culminates live on CBS.
For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.