FAYETTEVILLE – The No. 8 University of Arkansas women’s track and field team earned a pair of weekly honors from the Southeastern Conference as announced Tuesday afternoon by the league office. The Razorbacks’ 4×400-meter relay was named a collective Runner of the Week, while Tina Sutej was named the SEC Field Athlete of the Week for the fifth time this season.
Having posted the top qualifying time in the prelims to advance to the finals of the 4×400-meter relay at the 102nd Drake Relays, the quartet of Regina George, Shelise Williams, Gwendolyn Flowers and Whitney Jones broke the meet and school record with a 3:28.63 performance. The previous Drake Relays record, a 3:31.0 mark by Alabama in 1987, stood for 24 years.
Arkansas’ old school record of 3:28.72 was set at the 2006 NCAA Championships by Sasha Rolle, Jessica Cousins, Paige Farrell and Tominique Boatright. The current set of Razorbacks becomes the second in school history to run a sub-3:30 mile relay. With its performance, Arkansas’ 4×400 relay extends its SEC lead and No. 2 national ranking.
"This is the first I’ve heard of a relay winning the conference award," head coach Lance Harter said. "All four have been developed by our program over the years and we’re really excited that they could run, not only that fast, but that fast out front by themselves. It was a great event and a great effort."
Competing in the championship section of the pole vault at the 117th Penn Relays, Sutej set the meet record with a clearance of 14-7.25, surpassing the previous mark of 13-10.5 set by Rachel Laurent of LSU in 2009. Sutej became the first two-time winner of the Penn Relays pole vault since the event was first contested in 1998. She has now won all 11 events entered this year, dating back to the start of the indoor season.
This season alone, Sutej has set meet records at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational (14-7.25), SEC Indoor Championships (14-10.75), Texas Relays (14-9) and Penn Relays. The Razorbacks have six pole vault wins in the past nine years at Penn Relays.
"We deliberately try to hit the best of the best, in terms of competition, and for anyone to remain undefeated in their respective event is a very rare commodity," Harter said. "Tina has done that, beginning with the indoor and carrying that over to outdoor in every type of weather we can throw at her. She is primed and ready to go, and deserving of any award that comes her way."
The Razorbacks move back into the top 10 in the May 3 release of the USTFCCCA national poll. Arkansas is the eighth-ranked team in the country following a busy weekend at Penn Relays, Drake Relays and the Payton Jordan Invitational. The team was ranked 11th last week. The SEC is represented by five teams in the this week’s top 25, including Arkansas, top-ranked LSU, No. 13 Auburn, No. 19 Georgia and No. 21 Tennessee.
After a road trip, the Razorbacks return to Fayetteville for the Arkansas Twilight this weekend at John McDonnell Field. The one-day event will be held Friday with field competition beginning at 9 a.m. (CT) and running events starts at 6 p.m. This will be the final event for the team before the SEC Championships next week in Athens, Ga.