FAYETTEVILLE – The No. 9 University of Arkansas women’s track and field team will start its 2011 outdoor campaign this weekend with the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif. Getting underway Friday, action is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. (CT) on each day of the two-day competition at Cobb Track & Angell Field.
"Seems like just yesterday we were indoors and now we begin outdoor season," head coach Lance Harter said. "We open up this weekend at Stanford. It’s supposed to rain the entire time. Distance runners can handle that just fine but we’ll be very, very careful with our sprinters. (The Stanford Invitational) is traditionally a gigantic competition."
With the exception of the pole vault and high jump crews, the entire Razorback team will make its outdoor debut in Palo Alto. Along with other scheduled events, NCAA indoor runner-up Regina George and bronze performer Shelise Williams are set to compete in the 400 meters. Williams and George have the third- and eighth-fastest returning outdoor times in the event. Season debuts are expected from Megan Jackson in the steeplechase and newcomer Rebecca Gorden in the javelin.
In the USTFCCCA preseason poll, Arkansas is the second-highest ranked SEC team and one of four teams from the conference in the release. The Razorbacks are ranked along with No. 3 LSU, No. 10 Auburn and No. 15 Tennessee. In the conference index ratings, the SEC is third and trails the Big 12 and Pac-10, respectively.
"We’re very excited about the opportunity for these kids," Harter said. "For those that didn’t go to nationals, they’re anxious to get in competition mode again. For those who were at nationals, they’ll either train through or run an off event in preparation for other meets down the road"
There are no automatic qualifying standards for the outdoor season. The top 48 declared student-athletes will get into individual events per region, while the top 24 relays declared per region will also qualify. The national performance list is updated weekly at http://www.tfrrs.com. Arkansas will participate in the NCAA West Prelims, May 26-28 in Eugene, Ore.
After this weekend, the Razorbacks return to their home track for the first of three home meets during the outdoor season. The team will host the Razorback Spring Invitational on April 2 at John McDonnell Field. The collegiate outdoor season will culminate June 8-11 with the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. For more home meet information, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Download: Stanford Invitational schedule.pdf