FAYETTEVILLE – In an effort to produce additional qualifiers for the NCAA Championships, the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team is splitting up this weekend with some of the distance runners going to the Stanford Invitational and a group of field event and sprinters heading to the Missouri Southern Track & Field Festival.
Eight Lady Razorback distance runners are scheduled to compete at Stanford University in what has become one of the largest distance carnivals in the nation. While there are sprints and field events available, the focus in Palo Alto is definitely anything from 800- to 10,000 meters.
“This is a meet that we have been going to for several years and the country prepares for this meet to get their NCAA qualifiers in the distances,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “The weather is usually very favorable for distance runners, especially at night, and the level of competition is similar to what you would see at the NCAA Championships making this a great barometer.”
A trio of Lady Razorbacks is prepared to race in the 10,000 meters for the first time this year. Denise Bargiachi, Beth Fahey and Jennifer Harper are not newbies to the 25-lap race, but are certainly not veterans. They hope to catch the NCAA provisional or automatic mark this weekend allowing them to not race again at the distance until at least the Southeastern Conference Championship in mid May. The Lady’Backs are also looking to pick up solid qualifiers in the 5,000 meters where Christine Kalmer and Dani Parry hope to hit the regional qualifying standard and earn a ticket to Columbia, Mo., for the Mideast Regional Championship in late May.
Arkansas’s Missouri Southern crew also has small numbers, but the focus in Joplin is to get the Lady Razorback younger competitors additional chances to compete. Two Lady Razorback pole vaulters get a chance to jump in what can be tough conditions in Joplin, while a pair of shot putters takes to the ring in mid afternoon. The Lady’Backs’ focus across the border has to be the 100-meter hurdles where Makeatha Cooper, Tivannia Thompson and Megan Thompson each race to improve their times from last weekend in Arizona.
For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.