EUGENE, Ore. – The No. 8 University of Arkansas women’s track and field team advanced nine to the next round of competition Thursday at the 2011 NCAA West Preliminary Round at a wet Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. The Razorbacks qualified three runners in the 400 meters and 1,500 meters, two runners in the 800 meters and one in the 400-meter hurdles in front of an announced 6,381 spectators. All nine runners will now compete in the quarterfinal round later this weekend with the opportunity to move on to the NCAA Championships in two weeks.
"We’re really pleased with our day," head coach Lance Harter said. "The trick is to stay alive and advance to the next round, and eventually get that ticket to Des Moines. I don’t think we could have asked for much more. The conditions aren’t what we’re used to, and although we’ve had some bad weather this spring, these are challenging conditions. But the kids kept their composure and battled the elements. Tomorrow is an even bigger day so we’ll just keep moving forward."
In the opening heats of the 400-meter hurdles, Brittany Hyter advanced to Friday’s quarterfinal round. The Razorback junior finished third in heat six with a time of 59.26, securing an automatic spot in the next round. Hyter qualified 12th overall within the top 24; the cut-off time was 1:00.42. Friday’s quarterfinal heats are scheduled for a 5:20 p.m. (PST) start.
The Razorbacks advanced three of its five runners into the quarterfinal round of the 1,500 meters. Kristen Gillespie and Jillian Rosen both claimed automatic spots with Samantha Learch getting through based on time. Gillespie finished second in heat one in a time of 4:22.94, Rosen was fourth in heat three with a time of 4:24.44 and Learch had the third-fastest at-large time in 4:24.57. The quarterfinal heats are set to begin Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
All three of Arkansas’ 400-meter runners secured automatic berths into the quarterfinal round of the event. Regina George was the team’s top performer in the opening round with a time of 53.92 to win heat six; she finished seventh overall among the top 24. Whitney Jones and Shelise Williams were 10th and 12th overall, respectively. Jones finished third in heat two with a time of 54.01 while Williams was the runner-up in heat five in 54.13. Friday’s quarterfinals are scheduled to begin at 3:50 p.m.
In the 800 meters, Stephanie Brown and Martine Borge both advanced to the quarterfinal round. Brown got through on an automatic advancement with her second-place finish in heat two. She finished with a time of 2:07.95, good for 19th overall among the 24 runners moving on. Borge, by way of her third-place finish in heat four also earned an automatic berth. She crossed in a time of 2:08.85. The quarterfinals are set for a 4:50 p.m. start Friday.
Gwendolyn Flowers finished sixth in heat one of the 100 meters. The Razorback sophomore clocked a time of 11.95 to finished 32nd overall during the round, and will not advance to Friday’s quarterfinal. Flowers will return to the track later this weekend for the 200 meters and as part of Arkansas’ 4×400-meter relay.
The announced attendance for day one of the preliminary event was 6,381. For the Razorback women, Friday’s schedule is set to feature the conclusion of qualifying in the 100 meters, 400 meters, 800 meters and 400-meter hurdles, in addition to final qualifying in the steeplechase, pole vault and triple jump. Competition is set to begin in the 200 meters and 100-meter hurdles. Log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com for continued meet-day coverage, including live results and interactive blog.