BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Sophomore Katie Stripling paced the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team at the SEC-Big Ten Challenge in Bloomington, Ind., on Saturday afternoon, winning the pole vault with a clearance of 13-2 ¼ and helping the Southeastern Conference in its one-day competition against teams from the Big Ten Conference.
Stripling led a 1-2-7-8 finish by Lady Razorbacks in the pole vault followed closely by senior Stephanie Irwin, freshman Tara Diebold and sophomore Kristen Keith. After securing the event win as the only competitor to clear 13-2 ¼, Stripling moved the bar up to the NCAA automatic mark of 13-9 ¼ and had three very good attempts at the height including one on a new pole that nearly gave her a final jump clearance. For the second straight week, Irwin barley missed the NCAA provisional mark.
“I thought that we performed well today,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “What was nice about this meet is that it got us away from home for a weekend. I think that our team competes so much at home that they sometimes fail to perform away from that venue. We had some great races and some nice career bests today.”
The Lady’Backs picked up a trio of season best performances in the 400 meters in Bloomington led by senior Tominque Boatright. Boatright got off to a tremendous start making up the stagger at 150 meters from lane four and beating the field to the break point. She would get edged to the next turn by an Ohio State runner who would eventually win the competition, but Boatright’s time of 54.87 would be good enough for second overall. Impressively, sophomore Courtenay Brown dropped her season and career best by nearly a second on Saturday when she crossed the line in 55.18. Fellow sophomore Jennifer Fall rounded out the season best marks with her 58.93.
Arkansas’ 800-meter runners had a nice afternoon with sophomore Janine Davis running a season best. Davis passed a pair of runners over the final lap of the four-lap competition to cross the line in 2:11.72, nearly a second better than her race from a week ago. Davis was the race leader along with teammate Lauren Lewis through 200 meters, and then sat in third at 400. Lewis would complete the race just off last week’s time at 2:14.04.
In the mile, the Lady Razorbacks placed four runners on the track and performed well after what appeared to be a rough opening half of the race. In the competition, Arkansas’ pack fell back of the top five runners in the race and allowed the group to dictate the pace. With just under two laps remaining it appeared that the Lady Razorbacks were content to let the quintet run away, but as the bell lap sounded, each of Arkansas’ runners put it in another gear and picked up their own pace. Freshman Jillian Rosen passed three runners over the final 150 meters to take fourth overall and break five minutes for the first time in her collegiate career at 4:59.92. The remaining Lady’Backs finished 7-8-9, each posting a season best in the process.
Also faring well for the Lady’Backs was senior Paige Farrell in the 600-meter run. Racing at the distance for the first time in her collegiate career, she posted a time of 1:32.90 to take second overall in the not often run event. Farrell’s strategy placed her in the back of the field through 400 meters, but a final lap rush saw her pass four runners including three on the backstretch to claim her final position.
The Lady Razorbacks return home next weekend for the Razorback Invitational at the Randal Tyson Track Center, Friday and Saturday, January 25-26. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.