FAYETTEVILLE – Coming off a tremendous NCAA Mideast Regional, the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team was informed on Tuesday that nine Lady Razorbacks would represent the University at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, Calif., June 7-10.
Headlined by the heroics of sophomore Tominque Boatright, Arkansas came from nowhere to finish 10th at the regional meet with the guarantee that Boatright and her 4×400-meter relay team would be at the national championship along with sophomore Dacia Barr in the 1,500 and junior Jodi Unger in the pole vault. Early Tuesday morning, the NCAA released its list of accepted entries to the national championship and three additional athletes were put on the list including sophomore Paige Farrell in the 800, freshman Christine Kalmer in the 5,000 and junior Tiavannia Thompson in the 100-meter hurdles.
“This contingent surpasses all our expectations,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “I was just looking over what we had last year and saw how loaded with seniors we were. This year we don’t have any seniors and the focus now is to make the finals and maximize our chances to score.”
All told, nine Lady Razorbacks will compete in seven events over the four-day NCAA Championships meet. Farrell gets the honor of starting things off for the Lady’Backs in the prelims of the 800-meter run at 3:40 p.m. pacific on Wednesday afternoon. She’ll be the first of five events on the day capped off with the prelims of the 5,000-meter run and Kalmer’s first NCAA track experience.
Unger leads off the second day of action looking for a repeat all-America performance from her indoor season. Unger’s vault starts a shorter day of just four events on Thursday which also puts Barr and the 4×400-meter relay on the track for the first time.
The biggest surprises for Arkansas’ coaching staff had to be the inclusion of Kalmer in the national championships field with Thompson not far behind. Both runners ran well at the regional, with Kalmer finishing seventh in the 5,000 and Thompson ninth in the hurdles, but Kalmer’s season best mark appeared to be well outside the cut off mark from the descending order list and Thompson on the bubble.
“We thought Tia would have been tough to keep out of the meet based on her time from the SEC Championships,” Harter said. “She has adapted very well to from running at the junior college level last year to the NCAA Championships just 12 months later. Christine’s qualifier proves that at the regional it doesn’t mean anything to have a fast time as long as you come ready to compete and she certainly stepped up.”
The Lady Razorbacks make their journey to California on Monday to prepare for the national championships. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.