AUSTIN, Texas – After weeks of fluctuating in the national rankings the Arkansas women’s track and field team heads into its penultimate collegiate competition, the NCAA West Preliminary Round (West Prelims) in Austin as the No. 2 best program in the nation.
The regional competition, which spans over three days, will feature the 48 most talented student-athletes (per event) in the West. Student-athletes earn their trips to Eugene, Oregon, perpetual hosts of the NCAA Outdoor Championships by finishing among the top-12.
Arkansas travels to the Texas capital with 28 total NCAA qualifiers, 24 of which who have to earn their tickets to Eugene, Oregon (NCAA Championships host site) by advancing out of the West Prelims. The Razorbacks are second in number of entries only to the 2017 NCAA Indoor Champion Oregon Ducks.
“We’re super excited,” head coach Lance Harter said. “It’s a very large contingent for us and we want to make sure we get as many as we can through to Eugene. From day one we try to make sure they understand that the ultimate goal is to get to the national championship and eventually possibly score.”
Vault Test in the West
The first Razorback event of the weekend is shaping up to be a stellar showcase of the NCAA’s vertical talent and a preview of what to expect in Eugene. Eleven of the 48 entries in the pole vault competition at the West Prelims (over double the amount of the East Prelims) have all scaled 14 feet or better, including heralded Hogs Desiree Freier, Lexi Weeks and Tori Weeks. The sophomore vault trio all enter the NCAA first round with previous postseason experience and hope to be the first Razorbacks of the weekend to punch their tickets to the outdoor national championships.
“They’re [Desiree, Lexi and Tori] excited about the competition and are looking forward to vaulting against the best,” Harter said. “The pressure isn’t on them as much with Annie Rhodes (Baylor) and Emily Grove (South Dakota), having higher clearances this season but our vaulters have PRs which rival or best the top-two and are excited to strut their stuff on the runway.”
First Round Veterans
In addition to the vaulters, Arkansas returns several NCAA qualifiers back from 2016 season including Damajahnee Birch (400H), Therese Haiss (1,500), Daina Harper (400), Nikki Hiltz (1,500) and Kiara Parker (100/200). Steeplechase upperclassman Regan Ward qualified during the 2015 season but redshirted last year.
Date/Time*: Thursday, May 25, 11 a.m. CT | Friday, May 26, 12 p.m. CT | Saturday, May 27, 1 p.m. CT
Location: Mike A. Myers Stadium (Austin, Texas)
Important Links: Start Lists | Live Results | Live Stream
*Times listed above denote the start of the live stream
Fans can follow the action through the live results link or tune in to the Texas Sports live stream daily by using the links above. Fans can also participate in the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #NCAATF.
Arkansas NCAA West Event Schedule
Thursday, May 25
4:30 p.m. – Women’s 400m Hurdles First Round (Birch)
5:30 p.m. – Women’s 1,500m First Round (Brown, Haiss, Hiltz, Viljoen)
6:30 p.m. – Women’s 100m First Round (Baylark, Parker)
7:20 p.m. – Women’s 400m First Round (Harper)
8:10 p.m. – Women’s 800m First Round (Watson)
11:00 a.m. – Women’s Pole Vault
Friday, May 26
5:30 p.m. – Women’s 400m Quarterfinal (Harper)
6:00 p.m. – Women’s 100m Quarterfinal (Baylark, Parker)
6:30 p.m. – Women’s 800m Quarterfinal (Watson)
7:00 p.m. – Women’s 400m Hurdles Quarterfinal (Birch)
7:30 p.m. – Women’s 200m First Round (Baylark, Parker)
8:20 p.m. – Women’s 3000m Steeplechase Quarterfinal (Nichwitz, Ward)
Saturday, May 27
6:00 p.m. – Women’s 4x100m Quarterfinal (Baylark, Stumbaugh, Harper, Parker)
6:30 p.m. – Women’s 1500m Quarterfinal (Brown, Haiss, Hiltz, Viljoen)
7:35 p.m. – Women’s 200m Quarterfinal (Baylark, Parker)
8:05 p.m. – Women’s 5000m Semifinal (Brown, Gray, Reed, Ward, Werner)
9:25 p.m. – Women’s 4x400m Quarterfinal (Arkansas)
*Italicized names denote a round of competition which require qualification
For more information on Arkansas track and field including in-meet updates, follow @RazorbackTF on Twitter.