FAYETTEVILLE – Sophomore Katie Stripling added Southeastern Conference Champion to her growing list of accolades on Saturday afternoon when she cleared 13-6 ½ at the Randal Tyson Track Center, leading a 1-2-4-6 finish by the Lady Razorback pole vaulters who grabbed 25 points for the Arkansas team score placing the Lady Razorbacks in first place after two days of competition.
Stripling becomes the second Lady Razorback pole vaulter to claim an SEC Indoor Championships title and the first since Stacie Manual in 2005. Manual also won the 2003 championship. The 25 points earned by the Lady Razorbacks vaulters is the most in recent memory and are only outdistanced by the Lady Razorback 3,000-meter runners of 2000 who went 1-2-3-4-6 and scored 32 points in a single competition.
“Sometimes when you get momentum it just keeps rolling,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “Once we started clearing bars and the crowd got into it, then it was a snowball effect. We are in a great position for tomorrow, but need to get some help if we want to win this meet. I am very proud of what the kids have accomplished so far and look forward to another great day on Sunday.”
Finishing a surprising second was freshman Tara Diebold who matched her teammate at 13-6 ½, but finished second to her fellow Lady Razorback based on misses throughout the competition. Diebold’s clearance is a huge personal best, exceeding her previous mark by a half foot and puts her in a prime position to be selected for the NCAA Championships in two weeks.
Rounding out Arkansas’ cadre of pole vaulters were Stephanie Irwin who finished fourth with a vault of 13-4 ½ and freshman Kristen Keith who cleared 12-10 ¼. Irwin nearly made it a Lady Razorback sweep of the top three places when she grazed the bar at 13-6, but a miss at an earlier bar put her behind LSU’s Katelyn Rodrigue.
Arkansas’ second major point score came from the 3,000 meters where Catherine White, Christine Kalmer and Dacia Barr finished 2-4-7 for 15 points. White, a true freshman from Virginia, hung with the leaders and used a fabulous last 400 meters to put herself alone in second place, holding off a Tennessee runner for the eight points. Kalmer led early on and claimed the fourth spot while Barr returned for her second race in a three-hour span to grab seventh.
Coming back from a tough pentathlon competition on Friday night which lasted more than six hours, Peter-Gaye Beckford returned to the track on Saturday for the long jump. Improving on her jump from Friday night, Beckford soared to 20-7, a mark that ties the fifth-best jump in school history. While just shy of her 20-10 ½ jump from the Armory two weeks ago, the distance allowed Beckford to finish fourth overall and snare another five points to the Arkansas team score.
In preliminary action, Arkansas set itself up well for Sunday’s list of finals. In the mile, Arkansas advanced three runners as Barr cruised to an automatic qualifier and watched her teammates Jillian Rosen and Caroline Peyton advance based on time. Barr’s time of 4:50.22 was the fourth best among all runners and Rosen and Peyton claimed the final two qualifying spots based on time.
The 60-meter hurdles witnessed senior Tiavannia Thompson run a season best 8.33 to advance to Sunday’s final while Makeatha Cooper, Arkansas best hurdler this season, clocked 8.40 to also advance.
The SEC Championships conclude on Sunday afternoon beginning at 11:00 a.m. at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.