PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – It has been a whirlwind two weeks for Katie Stripling of the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team. First she clears 13 feet for the first time in her career, and then a week later she snatches the Penn Relays “Championship of America” at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pa.
Stripling becomes the second Lady Razorback in as many years and fourth in five years to win the Penn Relays title in the vault and upset defending champion and teammate Jodi Unger in the process. Arkansas’s pole vault contingent was well represented in the competition, going 1-2-3 in the event.
“It was your typical Penn Relays weather,” Arkansas assistant coach Bryan Compton said. “There were headwinds that turned to crosswinds and back to headwinds all day. I am really proud of the way the girls dealt with the elements and competed. The pole vault was our highlight event at the Penn Relays and they really came through.”
Stripling would win the competition with a second straight week of 13-1 ½, edging her teammates on misses in the competition. Unger and Stephanie Irwin would also make the 13-1 ½, but each did it on their second attempts while Stripling made it on her first giving her the championship. Irwin claimed second place in the competition as she had fewer total misses than Unger.
Stripling’s victory places her in the company of former Lady’Backs April Steiner and Stacie Manuel and Unger as Penn Relays pole vault champions. Steiner was the first to win the event in 2003 followed by Manuel (2004) and Unger (2006).
In other Penn Relays action Carly Bloomfield finished seventh in the championship section of the javelin and Michelle Rossio claimed 10th in the hammer throw with a near career best 164-9.
Over at the Drake Relays a pair of Lady Razorbacks took to the track in the 5,000-meter run. Unfortunately for the Lady Razorbacks a huge field of competitors did not allow Arkansas’s runners to get a good start and Miranda Walker and Jennifer Harper were pushed to the back of the field where they were forced to work their way forward. Midway through the race, the tandem, who ran side-by-side most of the way, picked off runners one by one and put themselves in good positions to qualify for the NCAA regional championships. While the Lady Razorbacks continued to run well over the second half of the competition, the pace for most of the field slowed considerably which put Harper and Walker on the outside looking in at the regional qualifier.
The Lady Razorbacks continue to compete at the Drake Relays on Friday and Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to LADYBACKS.COM.