FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas Lady Razorback track and field had a fine weekend of competition, splitting between the John McDonnell Invitational and Mt. SAC Relays. The Lady’Backs recorded eight regional-qualifying marks for their growing list.
"Paige Farrell had a great breakthrough, mentally, in the 800 meters," head coach Lance Harter said. "Paige is starting to get back in her old form. The pole vaulters also had a great day. We ran a solid 4×400-meter relay without Tominque (Boatright) to get ready for the Drake Relays next week. We have the best track in the nation and the conditions were great. Everything went according to plan."
The Lady’Back pole vaulters proved once again why they are some of the best in the nation. The crew earned second, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth-place finishes. Stephanie Irwin led the way with her runner-up finish and a clearance of 13-7.75. A personal best, Irwin bettered her regional-qualifying mark, cleared the leading height in the SEC by six inches and ranks seventh in the nation.
"I felt great today," Irwin said. "Coach (Bryan Compton) moved my run back two weeks ago so I was on a new pole and had a new run. I was feeling really good and all I wanted to do today was clear 13 feet. I got to 13-7 and had some good attempts at 13-11. My goal is to clear 14-3 by the end of the season."
Katie Stripling was fourth, clearing 13-4.5. She bettered her regional-qualifying mark and her personal best. Kristen Keith punched her ticket to the postseason with a regional-qualifying clearance of 13-1.5. The clearance is a personal best and ranks third in the SEC. Sarah Landau also cleared 12-7.5, good for a sixth-place finish.
Paige Farrell also had a banner day, showing shades of strength and speed work. She won the 800 meters and dipped below the regional-qualifying time of 2:09.80. Her time of 2:08.48 ranks fifth in the nation.
Farrell also ran the third leg of the 4×400-meter relay and paced the Lady’Backs to an event win and an improved regional-qualifying time. Courtenay Brown, Shelise Williams, Farrell and Devon Williams combined for a time of 3:38.53, bettering their regional qualification and moving up among the nation and the SEC.
Makeatha Cooper bettered her regional-qualifying mark in the 100-meter hurdles. She placed second in the finals with a clocking of 13.49 after a prelim time of 14.10.
At Mt. SAC Relays, the Lady’Backs had stellar performances during the distance carnival. In various sections of the 5,000 meters, Arkansas got three regional-qualifying marks from its three competitors.
"The weather was just perfect," Harter said. "Mt. SAC assembles all the titans in distance running and it creates electricity in the air. You go there to run fast or you are going to get run over. Our kids decided to step up and run with them."
Dacia Barr clocked the fastest 5,000-meter time with a 16:08.35, good for an 18th-place finish in her heat. Barr’s time is also a 19-second personal best and leads the SEC.
"The race went really well and the conditions were absolutely perfect," Barr said. "The plan was to go out and hang on the back of the pack because it was definitely a quick race. The plan was to try and run a low sixteen and I hit it right on. It started out a little fast, so I was a little worried at the beginning. I settled right into my pace and ran a great time. I have a lot of strength right now and the only thing I need to focus on is my speed work."
Denise Bargiachi clocked a 16:22.51 and finished 21st in her race. Her time is a personal best by five seconds and ranks third in the SEC. Jillian Rosen competed in her first collegiate outdoor 5,000 meters and finished 10th in her race. She clocked a personal-best time of 16:47.33.
Catherine White made her collegiate 10,000-meter debut. She clocked an NCAA provisional-qualifying time of 33:52.06. Her time is a personal best and leads the SEC.
"Our two freshmen had great races," Harter said. "Jillian Rosen ran a nice PR to be qualified for the NCAA regional meet. Catherine White ran a 33:52 in the 10,000 meters which will get her in the NCAA Championship and she also qualified for the Olympic Trials. So as an eighteen-year old, she is making big progress."
"Dacia Barr had a huge PR time in the 5000 meters which is not her primary event," Harter said. "The strength she has gives her a lot of confidence. Denise Bargiachi PR’d at 16:22 in the 5,000 meters and that was a great effort."
Arkansas will compete next at Drake Relays, April 24-26, in Des Moines, Iowa. For more details on Arkansas track and field, visit www.ladybacks.com.