FAYETTEVILLE – The No. 6 University of Arkansas women’s track and field team capped day one of the Tyson Invitational with a school-record performance by Tina Sutej in the pole vault. The junior standout cleared 14-8 on her way to the victory, resetting the school record she already owned, a 14-7.5 effort at the 2010 SEC Championships.
"We’re in good shape when we have Shelise Williams start the day just missing the school record," head coach Lance Harter said. "She leads off for us and we come back with PRs from Regina George and Whitney Jones which puts all three in good shape to advance to the NCAA Championships. We obviously had a great day in the pole vault with Tina’s school record and Tara (Diebold) picking up a personal best. Overall, we’re putting ourselves in position within the SEC and as a team to watch nationally."
For the third consecutive meet, Sutej took jumps at a new collegiate record. With her showing Friday, Sutej extends her national lead in the pole vaults, collects her fifth win in as many competitions and posts another NCAA automatic qualifier. She now is the sole owner of the top five jumps in school history, four of which have come this season.
"I think about the school record but, even more, I think about just jumping the best I can," Sutej said. "I know I have the height and I’m over the bar (at the collegiate record) but there a couple of details I have to fix. My jump at 14-8 would have cleared the collegiate record so I’m close."
Tara Diebold finished the competition in third place with a personal-best clearance of 13-11.25. Her previous best of 13-9.25 came in the first meet of the 2011 season. Former Razorback All-American Katie Stripling was fourth in the pole vault.
Arkansas picked up another win from Kristen Gillespie in the invitational section of the mile. She crossed the tape in a time of 4:39.88, improving her previous personal best by just over four seconds. At the bell lap, Gillespie kicked past Caroline Karunde of Texas Tech to grab control of the race. Gillespie led a pack of four top-10 finishes for Arkansas with Samantha Learch (4:51.30) in sixth, Paige Johnston (4:51.35) in seventh and Jillian Rosen (4:56.61) in 10th.
The Razorbacks came away with the top three collegiate times in the 400 meters, and a 3-4-5 finish overall, with Shelise Williams, Regina George and Whitney Jones, respectively. In the opening heat, Williams clocked her fastest time of the season with a 52.47, just .04 off her school record set last year at the Tyson Invitational. The time is also her second NCAA automatic qualifier of the season. George and Jones won their respective heats and followed with personal-best times of 53.23 and 53.52, respectively.
In the opening event of the evening session, Stephanie Brown ran to a second-place showing in the invitational 800 meters. She crossed in a season-best time of 2:06.17, improving her national standing in the event and moving into second in the Southeastern Conference.
Brittany Hyter, Ivanique Kemp and Breeana Coleman all qualified for the semifinal round of the 60-meter hurdles with their performances in the prelims. Hyter was the 10th qualifier with a time of 8.45 while Kemp and Coleman advanced with times of 8.55 and 8.65, respectively. In the semifinals, Coleman was Arkansas’ top performer with a 14th-place finish in a time of 8.47. Kemp (8.51) and Hyter (8.61) finished 18th and 21st, respectively. Having qualified for the consolation final, Coleman closed out her day with a 8.76 and a sixth-place result.
The team’s lone representative in the college section of the 800 meters, Martine Borge finished the race with a time of 2:13.12 and a ninth-place result. In the college heat of the mile, Grace Heymsfield finished 10th overall, crossing in a personal-best 5:03.78.
In the college section of the pole vault, Danielle Nowell had a fifth-place finish. The Razorback freshman was one of four to clear 12-3.5 but finished fifth on misses. Megan Weller, another freshman for Arkansas, placed 10th with an 11-9.75 clearance. Multi-event specialist Leah Orley was 36th overall with a mark of 16-1.75 in the college section of the long jump.
Arkansas returns to the track Saturday for the final day of the Tyson Invitational. Field events begin at noon (CT) while running events get under way at 1 p.m. Follow the action via live stats, video stream and interactive blog at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Download: Tyson Results, Day 1.pdf