COLLEGE STATION, Texas – On day one of the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships, the No. 4 University of Arkansas women’s track and field team collected a pair of qualifiers for the 400-meter final. Shelise Williams and Regina George led the team’s efforts Friday with their respective efforts in the preliminary round. The Razorbacks will have representation in the 400 meters, 4×400-meter relay, and pole vault during Saturday’s finals.
"Tomorrow is our big day," head coach Lance Harter said. "From what we forecast, we’re down roughly two points. We thought we could get some points in the DMR. We asked Stephanie to carry a bigger load than she’s probably ready to handle."
Williams and George both qualified for the finals of the 400 meters with the second- and third-fastest qualifying times, respectively, during the preliminary heats. Running in heat three, Williams took the lead at the break and clocked in at 52.65 to win the section. George followed with a win in heat four, crossing in a time of 52.69. Whitney Jones had a time of 53.69 but did not advance to the final. Saturday’s championship run is for 5:40 p.m. (CT).
"Obviously, Jessica Beard (of Texas A&M) is the favorite but Shelise and Regina are ready to run with those types of competitors," Harter said. "Then we’ll bring them back and harvest the 4×4 as best we can."
Competing in her first NCAA Championships, Makeba Alcide collected 3,919 points in the pentathlon, good for a 13th-place finish. She opened the day with a time of 8.86 (939 points) in the 60-meter hurdles. In the high jump and shot put, she posted marks of 5-6.5 (842) and 38-0.75 (635), respectively. Her throw in the shot put is the second best of her career.
Alcide followed that up with a mark of 17-11 (688) in the long jump, also a second-best career measurement. In the final event of the day, she ran to a personal-best time of 2:20.62 (815) in section one of the 800 meters. Alcide was one of just two sophomores to compete in the five-event competition, joining fellow SEC competitor Lucie Ondraschkova of Georgia.
Stephanie Brown ran to a time of 2:09.33 in the first heat of 800 meter prelims. She finished with the 15th-fastest time in qualifying and will not advance to Saturday’s final. In the final event of the day, the Razorbacks had a ninth-place showing in the distance-medley relay. The foursome of Kristen Gillespie, Jones, Samantha Learch and Brown combined for a time of 11:13.92
Tina Sutej and Tara Diebold will head up Arkansas’ field event efforts Saturday. Sutej enters the event as the national leader and holder of the NCAA collegiate record. In addition to Williams and George in the 400 meters, the women’s 4×400-meter relay will take to the track in the final event of the meet at 7:10 p.m.
"We’re all set for the pole vault," Harter said. "It’s nice to have the favorite and national leader but I’ll tell you that the one who could pull off the biggest surprise is Tara."
The 2011 team champion will be crowned Saturday when the NCAA Championships conclude. Competition on the women’s side begins at 3:30 p.m. with the prelims and final of the triple jump. The final day of the national meet will be carried via stream at NCAA.com and ESPN3.com. For more information, including interactive blog and live results, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Download: NCAA results, Day 1.pdf