NEW ORLEANS – Coming off arguably their strongest year of competition since the program’s existence the Arkansas women’s track and field team have carried their momentum from 2015 into 2016. The Razorbacks are one of the five best all-around teams in the nation competing for the Terry Crawford Women’s Program of the Year award following their outstanding efforts at both the NCAA Cross Country and NCAA Indoor Championship.
The Terry Crawford Women’s Program of the Year Award is named after USTFCCCA Hall of Famer and former Cal Poly head coach Terry Crawford. Crawford has won five NCAA National Championships, and over 20 Conference Championships. Her 1986 Texas squad remains as the only NCAA women’s program to ever win the Triple Crown (cross country, indoor track and field, and outdoor track and field titles).
Teams must qualify for each of the NCAA Championships to be considered for the award. Points are based on how a team finishes at the national meet (1st = 1, 2nd = 2) with the lowest combined score between the three seasons determining the award winner.
Through two seasons Oregon leads with four points while Arkansas sits in second place with 11 points.
Arkansas began its 2015-2016 quest for the program of the year at E.P. Tom Sawyer Park in Louisville, Ky. for the NCAA Cross Country Championship. Razorback phenom Dominique Scott earned her third cross country All-America honor while leading Arkansas to its 10th top 10 national finish (ninth). Scott was assisted by freshman Devin Clark placed second for Arkansas and 48th overall in her NCAA championship debut.
Moving off the course and on to the track Arkansas maintained its status as one of the most talented programs in the nation never dropping below No. 4 in the polls. Competitive in multiple events Arkansas proved to be particularly formidable in the pentathlon and the pole vault. The Razorbacks qualified six student-athletes (Taliyah Brook, Leigha Brown, Alex Gochenour, Payton Stumbaugh, Lexi Weeks and Tori Weeks) for the NCAA Indoor Championship who ended up accounting for more than half of the team’s points in just those two events.
Lexi and Tori Weeks scored 13 points in the pole vault, during which Lexi Weeks broke the NCAA meet record with 4.63m/15-2.25 in one of the most exciting performances of the weekend. Pentathletes Brooks, Gochenour and Stumbaugh combined to score 15 points and put Arkansas in the history books as the first team to have three multi event athletes score at the national indoor meet.
Senior Taylor Ellis-Watson who accounted for 10 points at the NCAA indoor meet solo anchored the Razorbacks to a national runner-up finish with an outstanding leg of the 4×400-meter relay to earn her second silver medal of the weekend (400m and 4x400m).
Inching closer and closer to No. 1 with the change in seasons Arkansas expects to be one of the top contenders at Hayward Field in June. Confident in his team’s transition to outdoor head coach Lance Harter fully expects Arkansas to challenge the defending champion Oregon Ducks for the final NCAA crown of the year.
NCAA Division I Program of the Year Standings
1. Oregon 4
2. Arkansas 11
3. Michigan 12
4. Notre Dame 13
5. Oklahoma State 17.5
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