FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas will serve as the host for the 2011 Southeastern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Randal Tyson Track Center. This will mark the sixth time the conference indoor meet has been held in Fayetteville. Competition begins Friday at 1 p.m. (CT) with the pentathlon featuring Arkansas’ Makeba Alcide and Leah Orley.
"This is what it’s all about," head coach Lance Harter said. "We’re real excited about this weekend. Now it’s just a matter of picking our 27 (entries) and getting started Friday with the multi events. We have two very good multi-event competitors so hopefully we start with some big points and then get rolling with prelims and finals on Saturday and Sunday."
Since joining the SEC in 1992, the Razorbacks have captured three indoor conference titles, the last coming during the 2003 season. In that same span of time, Arkansas has come away with four runner-up team performances and five bronze finishes.
Entering the weekend, the Razorbacks own four SEC-leading marks with Shelise Williams in the 400 meters, Tina Sutej in the pole vault and the 4×400-meter and distance-medley relays. Arkansas has posted an NCAA automatic-qualifying mark in all four events, including school records by Sutej and the relays. Williams leads a 1-3-5 ranking in the 400 meters with Regina George and Whitney Jones, respectively, while Sutej and Tara Diebold hold the top two SEC spots in the pole vault.
With very little movement within the Feb. 22 national poll, the Razorbacks enter the SEC Championships as the No. 4 team in the country, the same spot they occupied in the previous rankings. Arkansas is one of five SEC teams ranked inside the top 25, in addition to No. 2 LSU, No. 6 Tennessee, No. 21 Florida and No. 24 Auburn. Overall, the SEC is ranked second among the nation’s top conferences, just behind the Big 12.
"It’s an ideal setting for this meet," Harter said. "For fans, they always scream about the idea of head-to-head competition with a score. Well, we’re going to give you a score. The SEC meet is, far and away, the most outstanding meet in the country so our fans will be treated to a great team competition and some outstanding individual performances."
Arkansas finished the 2010 SEC Indoor Championships with 82 points and a second-place result in the team race, its highest since earning the same spot at the 2005 conference meet. All told, the Razorbacks finished the meet with three event titles. Sutej won the pole vault with a meet-record performance, Williams won the 400 meters and the 4×400-meter relay combined for a victory. The titles in the 400 meters and 4×400 relay were the first in program history.
Following the opening day of combined events, the conference meet continues Saturday and Sunday at noon and 11:30 a.m., respectively, at the Randal Tyson Track Center. The women’s weight throw will be contested at Walker Pavilion at 10 a.m. Saturday, followed by the men’s weight throw Sunday at the same time. Follow the action throughout the weekend via live stream, interactive blog and live results at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Download: SEC competition schedule.pdf