FAYETTEVILLE – The No. 9 University of Arkansas women’s track and field team will be represented in three meets this week. A majority of the team will head to Des Moines, Iowa, for the 103rd running of the Drake Relays which begins Wednesday with the heptathlon. Select members of the Razorbacks are also scheduled to compete at Penn Relays and the Payton Jordan Invitational this weekend.
"It’s a weekend where we’ve got people competing all over the country, from coast to coast," head coach Lance Harter said. "We’re putting them in the best situation to have optimal success in their respective event. Ultimately, we’ll come back together as a team as we head into the championship season for the SEC, regional and NCAA meets."
At the Drake event, the Razorbacks are scheduled to compete in the 4×100, 4×200, 4×400 and sprint-medley relays. Individually, Arkansas is set for action in the 100 meters, 800 meters, 5,000 meters, 100-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles, 3,000-meter steeplechase, long jump and triple jump. Makeba Alcide will compete in her second heptathlon of the season, beginning Wednesday.
Arkansas owns the Drake Relays record in the 4×400-meter relay. Last season, the team of Regina George, Shelise Williams, Gwendolyn Flowers and Whitney Jones combined for the record performance of 3:28.63. The time also established a school record. Three members of that team-Flowers, George and Jones-return for the 2012 event.
Tina Sutej will be at Penn Relays in defense of her 2010 and 2011 pole vault titles at the prestigious event. Last season, she set the meet record with her winning clearance of 4.45m/14-7.25. Arkansas has won six of the past nine pole vault titles at Penn Relays. Sutej will be joined by teammates Tara Diebold and Danielle Nowell. Kirsten Hesseltine will also be in Philadelphia to compete in the high jump.
The Payton Jordan Invitational will be contested Sunday at Cobb Track & Angell Field in Palo Alto, Calif. Arkansas’ distance crew will be represented by Kaitlin Flattmann, Kristen Gillespie, Grace Heymsfield, Samantha Learch, Dominique Scott and Keri Wood. For her performance last weekend at the Mt. SAC Relays, Scott was named the SEC Freshman of the Week on Tuesday.
Entering the fifth weekend of the outdoor season, Arkansas has five SEC-leading performances and four top-10 NCAA marks. The Razorbacks’ conference leaders are George in the 400 meters, Gillespie in the 1,500 meters and 5,000 meters, Heymsfield in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and Sutej in the pole vault. Sutej is the NCAA leader in the pole vault at 4.55m/14-11, Gillespie is second at 1,500 meters (4:13.41) and 10th at 5,000 meters (15:48.91) while George owns the third-fastest time at 400 meters (52.05).
The Razorbacks are the No. 9 team in the April 24 release of the USTFCCCA national poll. The Southeastern Conference is second in the nation with five teams ranked in the top 25. The Razorbacks are joined in this week’s rankings by LSU, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia.
Arkansas will make a return trip to Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa, for the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships (June 6-9). For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Download: Notes 13_Drake Relays.pdf