FAYETTEVILLE – Redshirt freshman Katie Stripling was named the Southeastern Conference’s Field Athlete of the Week on Tuesday following her stunning win at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, Pa., over the weekend.
Stripling picked up the first collegiate win of her career at the prestigious event and upset defending champion and teammate Jodi Unger in the process when she cleared 13 feet, 1 ½ inches for the title. Her vault matched her personal best which set just two weeks ago at the John McDonnell Invitational in Fayetteville.
“I am really proud of Katie,” Arkansas assistant coach Bryan Compton said. “She is really coming along in her training and once we can figure out a couple of things, I truly believe that she has the potential to be our next great pole vaulter. She has some the intangibles that make for a great vaulter and our job now is to harness that. Along with Jodi (Unger) and Stephanie (Irwin) we have a great 1-2-3 punch for the SEC Championships.”
For the Lady Razorbacks’, Stripling’s win marked the fourth time in five years that an Arkansas pole vaulter has won the Penn Relays “Championship of America.” Unger took the title in 2006 and was preceded by Stacie Manual (2004) and April Steiner (2003).
Stripling’s honor is the first by a Lady Razorback during the 2007 outdoor season and the fourth by a Lady Razorback track/cross country athlete since September. What sets Stripling apart from her counterparts is that she is the first Lady’Back field event athlete to claim an athlete of the week honor since the 2003 season when Jessica Johnson, a high jumper, was named the athlete of the week.
Stripling and select Lady Razorbacks compete this weekend in the final home event of the season, Friday, May 4 at the Arkansas Twilight Meet. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.