NEW YORK – The school record in the distance-medley relay and the meet record in the pole vault were rewritten Friday evening as the No. 6 University of Arkansas women’s track and field team opened competition at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational at the Armory Track & Field Center in New York. The Razorbacks’ DMR clocked a time of 11:02.45, a four-second improvement on the previous school mark, and Tina Sutej posted a clearance of 14-7.25 on her way to victory in the pole vault.
"Obviously, I’m very proud of our DMR and how they performed tonight," head coach Lance Harter said. "To take more than four seconds off the school record is really impressive. Tina (Sutej) continues to be very, very good in the pole vault, and to do what she did without her own poles is even more impressive. This is such a great meet and we’ll have to be ready for another big day tomorrow."
The quartet of Kristen Gillespie (1,200-meter leg), Shelise Williams (400 meters), Regina George (800 meters) and Stephanie Brown (1,600 meters) combined to break the school record which was set on this same track a year ago. The previous record was 11:06.56; Gillespie, Williams and George were also part of that mark. In addition to the school record, the time is an NCAA automatic qualifier and the current No. 2 clocking in the nation.
Sutej continued her assault on the pole vault event and won her fourth competition in as many meets this season. Already the owner of the nation’s top mark, she extended that distinction with her clearance of 14-7.25. It is the No. 2 mark in school history, just a quarter-inch off the record she owns, and is her fourth NCAA automatic qualifier of the season. Sutej led a 1-2 finish for Arkansas as Tara Diebold took second place in the pole vault with her clearance of 13-9.25, equaling her personal best set earlier this season.
Whitney Jones qualified for Saturday’s final in the championship division 400 meters with a time of 54.26, the fifth-fastest time of the preliminary heats. In the college division of the 400 meters, Gwendolyn Flowers won her heat in a time of 56.31 and will race in the finals tomorrow afternoon.
Having qualified for the two-section finals of the 60-meter hurdles earlier in the day, Ivanique Kemp and Breeana Coleman finished 13th and 15th, respectively, in the championship heats. Both clocked personal bests with Kemp crossing in 8.40 and Coleman turning in an 8.46 clocking.
In the championship section of the 1,000 meters, Paige Johnston ran to a bronze finish with a clocking of 2:49.91. The top-three finishers all came from Johnston’s heat. Also competing in that group, Jillian Rosen finished seventh in the heat and 12th overall with a time of 2:54.26.
Running in her first collegiate 5K on the track, Cali George posted a time of 17:02.51 in the championship section and came away with a 13th-place showing.
In continued training and preparation for her multi-event duties, Leah Orley competed in three events Friday. The 60-meter hurdles were her first event of the day and she crossed in a time of 9.31. Later in the 500 meters, she ran to a time of 1:18.90, good for 24th place. In the college division of the long jump, Orley leapt out to 17-3.25 in her best attempt of the day.
Competing in the college section of the pole vault, Megan Weller and Danielle Nowell finished in fourth and 11th place, respectively. Weller had clearance of 12-5.5 while Nowell posted a mark of 11-11.75, tying with one other competitor at the height. In the college section of the high jump, Kirsten Hesseltine was among a handful of competitors to clear the bar set at 5-5, good for seventh place.
The Razorbacks return to action Saturday for the final day of competition at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational beginning with Breeana Coleman, Regina George and Whitney Jones scheduled for the 200 meters at 11:22 a.m. (ET). Results and video stream will once again be posted at the official website of the Armory Track & Field Center with an interactive blog at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.