FAYETTEVILLE – With a successful defense of her Texas Relays pole vault title, Tina Sutej has been named the Southeastern Conference Field Athlete of the Week, as announced by the league office Tuesday afternoon. The weekly honor is the third of the season for Sutej and 12th of her career.
"Tina is the consummate competitor," head coach Lance Harter said. "She keeps everything in focus. She and Andrew (Irwin) are alike in that way. They’re unflappable. It doesn’t matter what the conditions are, who the competition is, or what the situation might be, they figure a way to master it and move forward accordingly. To be undefeated in any event in track and field is a very difficult thing to do because sooner or later, you’re going to have a bad day. Tina just seems to make that an instance she doesn’t have to deal with."
On her way to victory at the Texas Relays, Sutej set the meet record with a clearance of 4.55m/14-11. She eclipsed the previous record of 4.50m/14-9, a mark she reached last season and shared with former UCLA standout Chelsea Johnson. With the win, she became the second woman in Texas Relays history to win back-to-back pole vault titles (Becky Holiday, Oregon, 2003-04).
Sutej is currently ranked No. 1 in the NCAA and No. 2 in the world in the pole vault. She has won all seven competitions entered this year, dating back to the start of the indoor season. Over the past two seasons, she has won 20 of 21 events. The Texas Relays was the first competition for Sutej since winning her second consecutive NCAA indoor title.
The win by Sutej gave Arkansas its 18th Texas Relays title in program history. The Razorbacks have won the last three pole vault titles at the prestigious event, dating back to Katie Stripling’s win in 2010.
Arkansas dropped one spot in the April 3 release of the USTFCCCA national poll. This week, the Razorbacks are No. 6 and remain the second-highest ranked team in the SEC. Overall the conference has six teams inside the top 25 with Arkansas, LSU, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Auburn. Including the Razorbacks, nine top-25 teams are scheduled to compete at this weekend’s Stanford Invitational.
The Razorbacks’ middle-distance and distance crews return to action April 6-7 with the Stanford Invitational at Cobb Track & Angell Field in Palo Alto, Calif. For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.