FAYETTEVILLE – Tina Sutej punched her ticket to the 2011 NCAA Track and Field Indoor Championships with an automatic-qualifying mark in the pole vault Friday evening at the Arkansas Invitational. She cleared a world-leading 14-5.25 on her way to the event win. Her mark is also the second-best jump in program history. All told, the Razorbacks finished the season-opening meet with five event victories.
Also competing in the pole vault, Tara Diebold returned to competition after a 2010 redshirt season. She finished in second place with three attempts at the automatic-qualifying height. Despite missing out on that mark, Diebold posted a personal-best clearance of 13-9.25.
"We’re just hosting a small meet and all of a sudden, you have to clear a world-best height to win the pole vault," head coach Lance Harter said. "(Assistant coach) Bryan Compton told me we could see some really great things out of (Tina) and we did. It is also great to have Tara come back in her first meet since redshirting last season and jump at the same level."
Arkansas collected its first win of the day with Shelise Williams in the 400 meters. She crossed in a time of 54.16 to lead a 1-2-4-5 finish for the Razorbacks. Regina George, winner of the second heat, finished second overall with a 54.46 clocking. Whitney Jones and Brittany Hyter were fourth and fifth, respectively.
The 4×400-meter relay of Gwendolyn Flowers, Jones, George and Williams ran to a time of 3:37.02 and a first-place performance in the final running event of the meet. Williams anchored the team to the win with a 53.10 split. Earlier in the day, Flowers posted a second-place result in the 200 meters.
Ivanique Kemp made an impact in her Arkansas debut with a victory in the 60-meter hurdles. She advanced to the finals with the fastest qualifying time (8.52). In the finals, Kemp led an Arkansas sweep of the top three spots with Hyter in second and Makeba Alcide in third. Alcide’s time of 8.80 is a personal best. Kemp returned to the track later and placed third in the 200 meters.
Stephanie Brown added to the Razorbacks’ win total with a top finish in the 1,000 meters. Paced by former Arkansas standout Christin Wurth-Thomas, Brown crossed the line in a personal-best time of 2:43.94, more than five seconds faster than her previous best. Leaving little doubt of the outcome, she finished nearly 20 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor.
"We’re pleased all the way across the board," Harter said. "Our jumpers jumped well, our multi-event specialist competed in four of the five (pentathlon) event and our mile-relay crew exceeded our expectations. (Associate head coach) Lonnie Greene told me to watch out for Ivy Kemp because she could be special. And she showed that she is tonight."
In the first event of the day, Alcide was the runner up in the high jump with a personal-best clearance of 5-7. She matched the mark set by the winner but was second on misses. Making her Razorback debut, Kirsten Hesseltine tied for fourth place (5-5) while George was seventh with a personal-best clearance of 5-5.
Arkansas occupied places four and five in the long jump with Jones (19-4) and Shantel Thompson, respectively (19-1.5). Competing in their second event of the day, multi-event specialists Alcide and Leah Orley both posted personal bests in the long jump with marks of 17-1.25 and 17-3.5, respectively.
In the tightest race of the day, Cali George missed out on a win in the mile by .04 seconds. She crossed in a personal-best time of 5:00.00, more than six seconds faster than her previous best. Martine Borge notched a personal-best of 2:13.55 in the 800 meters, good for third place. She was followed by Paige Johnston in fourth place.
Thompson wrapped up her day in the field events with a second-place finish in the triple jump. She went out to 39-10 on her fourth attempt, her only legal mark of the day. In preparation for future pentathlon competitions, Orley and Alcide contined their busy day in the shot put. Both managed a personal-best throw as Orley finished second (37-4) and Alcide was third (36-7).
The Razorbacks return to action next weekend with their first road meet of the season, the Virginia Tech Challenge at the Rector Fieldhouse in Blacksburg, Va. It will mark the first of two consecutive road competitions for Arkansas. For performance lists, results and more information, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.