FAYETTEVILLE – Senior Penny Splichal plans to end her Lady Razorback career on a high note as she leads a contingent of six University of Arkansas women’s track athletes to action at the 2006 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championships beginning Friday morning at 9:00 a.m.
Splichal is qualified in both the 3,000 and 5,000-meter runs with the 20th and 13th-best time in the nation, respectively and will be joined by Tominque Boatright in the 400 meters and 4×400 relay, Jodi Unger in the pole vault and Jessica Cousins, Sasha Rolle and Paige Farrell in the 4×400 relay.
“We have a really young team this year,” Arkansas head track coach Lance Harter said. We have one senior, a junior and five sophomores competing at the national championship so you can see some real positives for the future. As a staff we are very satisfied with who we got into the meet and know that if they continue to fight like they have all year, then positive things can happen at the national championship.”
Splichal posted both of her qualifying marks on way to a pair of Southeastern Conference championships two weeks ago. Her 3,000-meter time was the last mark to make the NCAA field, 9:20.76, and her 5K time of 16:07.54 is the 13th best in the nation and fifth on Arkansas’ all-time list.
Boatright and the rest of Arkansas’ 4×400-meter relay ran very well at the SEC meet, but were fabulous at the Iowa State Qualifier on Saturday. In the open 400-meter race, Boatright clocked a personal best at 53.51, also the second fastest time in Arkansas history, then ran the opening leg of the relay that crushed the Lady Razorback school record by more than a second. Considering that Arkansas’ previous record was run by a team that included a pair of Olympians, the magnitude of their achievement looms large.
The pole vault was an event that saw considerable change in the final weekend of competition, but junior Jodi Unger weathered the storm and continued to hold the eighth best mark in the country at 13 feet, 6 ¼ inches. Clearing the height at the Tyson Invitational in mid-February, Unger was unable to eclipse the mark at the SEC meet, but did finish the competition as the conference runner-up giving her considerable momentum heading into the NCAA meet.
As with every NCAA meet, there are people that are left on the outside looking in and for Arkansas two potential competitors were not selected to compete at the championships. Sophomores Dacia Barr and Stephanie Irwin just missed the NCAA cut in the mile and pole vault. Barr’s time of 4:45.44 was just over one second off the last qualifier and Irwin’s pole vault was a mere three centimeters and two places off the cut.
“We are obviously disappointed with the fact that Dacia and Stephanie didn’t get in,” Harter said. “They still have the outdoor season to get a chance to compete and I am confident that they will both qualify outdoors.”
For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.