The Razorbacks are celebrating International Student Week Monday-Friday, Nov. 15-19. We will be highlighting a couple of standout student-athletes who have embraced the challenges of school and athletics in the United States. They face many obstacles from language to food to customs and styles but all of them share one thing-they are Razorbacks.
FAYETTEVILLE – Tina Sutej and Tarik Batchelor, members of the University of Arkansas track and field teams, have spent the first two seasons of their Razorback careers introducing themselves to the conference and national stages of intercollegiate athletics. With the large strides already taken, their final two seasons in Cardinal and White are set up to bring incredible success.
Sutej, a native of Ljubljana, Slovenia, enters her junior season of track and field with her name already scattered throughout the Razorback records book. Most notably, Sutej is the school record holder in the pole vault, with both indoor and outdoor marks under her belt. In a show of her model consistency, she also owns three of the top five indoor and outdoor clearances by a Razorback student-athlete.
"Tina is very devoted to her academic pursuits, in addition to being an amazing athlete," women’s head coach Lance Harter said. "She is a multiple-time All-American who has adapted to the American collegiate system without a hitch and has already gained the greatest of respect from her teammates and competitors, both as an athlete and for her tremendous character."
Her reach goes beyond her college hometown of Fayetteville as Sutej spent the summer of 2010 competing in her native country of Slovenia. With a clearance of 14-9 at the Slovenian National Championships, she did more than just compete as she won the national title, extended her Slovenian national record and posted a new Arkansas school record. Sutej’s mark of 14-9 also meets the "B" qualifying standard for the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, Korea, and the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
During her sophomore season with the Razorbacks, Sutej earned a runner-up finish in the pole vault at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., matching the best NCAA result for an Arkansas athlete in the event. She also swept the 2010 SEC Indoor and Outdoor titles. She set the school and SEC meet record indoors with her clearance of 14-7.5. For her indoor efforts, Sutej was named the NCAA South Central Region Field Athlete of the Year for the 2010 indoor season.
Batchelor, a native of Kingston, Jamaica, is preparing to head into his junior campaign as one of the leaders of the jumper’s crew. Competing in the long and triple jumps, he helped lead the Razorbacks to the 2010 SEC Indoor Track and Field team title. On the second day of the conference meet, Batchelor posted a personal best in a silver-medal performance in the long jump. The next day, Batchelor had a fourth-place finish in the triple jump with a personal-best mark.
"We had a lot of our young guys…like Tarik Batchelor in the jumps compete like veterans," men’s head coach Chris Bucknam said after Arkansas captured the SEC indoor title. "This was the weekend to do it and I couldn’t be more proud of our guys."
His mark of 26-6.5 in the long jump at the conference meet represents the No. 6 indoor effort in program history. Later in his sophomore season, he went on to qualify for the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships in the long jump with a sixth-place showing at the NCAA West preliminary meet in Austin, Texas.
Batchelor began his Razorback career with an outstanding freshman year. Among his impressive achievements, he was named the 2009 SEC Outdoor Freshman Field Athlete of the Year and earned a spot on the conference outdoor all-freshman team. His success at the conference level grew as he earned two all-region accolades and qualified for the national indoor and outdoor meets. Not forgetting his accomplishments for his native country, Batchelor has participated at the Jamaican Olympic Trial and National Championships.
The indoor portion of the 2011 track and field season begins Friday, Jan. 7, with the Razorback Triangular at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville.