FAYETTEVILLE – After an incredible weekend of qualifying marks, the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team prepares for competitions all across the United States as it splits up to compete at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, Pa., the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, and the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif.
The Penn Relays contingent is the first to compete with action on Thursday afternoon. Headed to the Keystone State are the Lady Razorback pole vaulters and throwers. Senior Jodi Unger is the defending champion in the pole vault and last spring became the third Lady Razorback since 2004 to win the “Championship of America” in the event. Unger’s stiffest competition at the Relays could come from her teammates Stephanie Irwin and Katie Stripling. Irwin earned all-American indoors and Stripling cleared 13 feet for the first time in her career at the John McDonnell Invitational.
“This could be a very productive weekend for us,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “We are again splitting up to give ourselves the best chance to qualify and that could lead to even more improvements. We did very well last weekend and I hope that we can continue that through the championship season which is just two weeks away.”
Also stepping on the track on Thursday is a select group of Arkansas distance runners at the Drake Relays. Focusing on the 5,000-meter run, Lady’Backs Beth Fahey, Jennifer Harper and Miranda Walker tackle a stout 5K field at Drake where the Lady Razorbacks return for the first time in several years. Action at Drake continues through Saturday with mostly Arkansas sprinters taking center stage. After an unbelievable weekend at home, the crew focuses on relay events with the Lady Razorbacks entered in six from the 4×100 to the sprint medley.
Arkansas’s final group of athletes is made up of distance runners who head to the west coast for the Payton Jordan meet at Stanford University. Seven Lady’Backs make their way out west to take on the 1,500, steeplechase and 5,000 meters. While most of Arkansas’ distance team already has a qualifier in at least one event, Arkansas is looking to get people like Denise Bargiachi a second NCAA mark which would allow her to compete at the regional championships since her only qualifier is an event that is not contested at the regional meet.
For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.