EUGENE, Ore. – The No. 8 University of Arkansas women’s track and field team racked up seven national qualifiers on day two of the 2011 NCAA West Preliminary Round at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. The Razorbacks will be represented at the NCAA Championship by three in the 400 meters, two in the pole vault, one in the 800 meters and another in the 400-meter hurdles. The team also had two qualify for Saturday’s quarterfinal in the 100-meter hurdles.
"We set a pretty high standard for ourselves yesterday and came back strong today," head coach Lance Harter said. "We have to be pleased with the way our momentum is going. Hopefully, tomorrow we can capitalize on our other opportunities in the 1,500 meters and with the mile relay."
As they did during the indoor season, the Razorbacks will have three runners in the 400 meters after Regina George, Whitney Jones and Shelise Williams posted top-three finishes in their respective heats to secure their spots at the NCAA Championships. George (52.31) and Jones (52.41) qualified second and third, respectively, with personal bests and Williams (53.98) rounded out the trio with a 13th overall spot; she moves on with her auto run in heat two.
Stephanie Brown secured her spot at the NCAA Championships with a career-best performance in the 800 meters. Running in the opening heat of the quarterfinal round, the Razorback sophomore ran to a win in a time of 2:02.59, good for the top qualifying time of the day, the second-best time in program history and an improvement on her previous best of 2:04.31. Martine Borge finished 19th overall with a time of 2:08.17 and will not move on to the national meet.
"The race set up perfectly for me," Brown said. "I kind of got boxed in but with 300 (meters) left, I knew I had to get out of there because the Oregon girls were starting to pull away. If I was going to win, I knew it had to be fast so I just focused on holding my form down the stretch and finished strong."
The team collected its fifth national qualifier with Brittany Hyter in the 400-meter hurdles. She secured an automatic berth with a third-place result in the opening heat of the quarterfinal round. Hyter posted a season-best time of 57.63 and finished as the fifth overall qualifier among the 24 competitors. The time is also the second-fastest of her career.
The Razorbacks’ field crew got a boost from Tina Sutej and Tara Diebold in the pole vault. Both finished within the top 12 with day-best clearances of 13-5.25 (4.10m), the final height of the day. Sutej entered the competition at the third height, while Diebold passed through the first three heights; both cleared 13-5.25 on their first attempts to move on to the national meet.
In the day’s first event on the track, Arkansas picked up two spots in the quarterfinal round with Ivanique Kemp and Hyter. Both competed in heat three and ran to automatic berths into the next round with second- and third-place finishes, respectively. Kemp crossed in 13.67 to finish 15th overall and Hyter finished in 13.68, good for 17th among the 24 runners moving on. Saturday’s quarterfinal heats are schedule to begin at 2:05 p.m. (PT).
Cali George posted a personal best in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, crossing the finish in a time of 10:21.54 and finishing 18th overall among the 47 competitors. She will not advance to the national meet. Teammate Megan Jackson closed out her collegiate outdoor career with a time of 10:43.39, good for 40th overall in the event.
Competition for the Razorback women concludes Saturday with quarterfinal action in the 1,500 meters and 100-meter hurdles. The schedule will also feature qualifying competition in the 5,000 meters, 4×400 relay and high jump. Log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com for continued meet-day coverage, including live results and interactive blog.
NCAA Championship qualifiers (top 12 in each event)400 Meters2. Regina George, 52.313. Whitney Jones, 52.4113. Shelise Williams, 53.98
800 Meters1. Stephanie Brown, 2:02.59
400-Meter Hurdles5. Brittany Hyter, 57.63
Pole Vault3. Tina Sutej, 13-5.25 (4.10m)5. Tara Diebold, 13-5.25 (4.10m)