FAYETTEVILLE – Tina Sutej, a junior pole vaulter for the University of Arkansas women’s track and field team, has been named the National Women’s Field Athlete of the Year as released by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Friday. During the 2011 outdoor season, Sutej won six of seven competitions entered and established a new NCAA record.
"It really goes without saying that Tina has had a tremendous season," head coach Lance Harter said. "For any athlete to go undefeated through the indoor season, especially against the type of competition she faced, and then carry that momentum over to the outdoor season speaks to the type of athlete and competitor that Tina is. She was put in the position to perform against the toughest competition throughout the season, and she responded all year long."
Sutej adds to her list of individual accolades earned this season which include All-Southeastern Conference and All-America honors, and SEC and South Central Region Field Athlete of the Year. She swept those honors for both the indoor and outdoor seasons. During the course of the 2011 season, Sutej was named the SEC Field Athlete of the Week on six occasions.
Having set the indoor collegiate record in February, Sutej put her name atop the NCAA outdoor list as well with her 15-1.5 clearance en route to winning her second straight SEC title at the conference meet in Athens, Ga. Along with establishing the new collegiate mark, she set the Arkansas school record, SEC meet record, Spec Towns Track facility record and the Slovenian national record.
In addition her record-setting performance at the conference meet, Sutej became just the fourth woman in collegiate history to eclipse the 15-foot barrier, joining previous record holders Chelsea Johnson of UCLA (2006), Lacy Janson of Florida State (2006) and Jenn Stucynski of Roberts Wesleyan (2005).
During the course of the outdoor season, Sutej set meet records at Texas Relays (14-9), Penn Relays (14-7.25) and the SEC Championships. In February, the Ljubljana, Slovenia, native was selected to the watch list for the Bowerman Award, annually given to the top male and female collegiate athlete in NCAA track and field.
At last week’s NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, Sutej tied the meet record with a clearance of 14-7.25 and finished second overall based on misses throughout the competition. The result marked the second runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships for Sutej, matching her showing at the 2010 national meet. Prior to the event, Sutej held a 13-meet winning streak, dating back to the start of the indoor season.
With one season of eligibility remaining in an Arkansas jersey, Sutej owns the top five pole vault outdoor marks in school history, three of which came this past season.
The 2011 NCAA Division I Athlete of the Year awards were voted on by the nation’s coaches. Shelia Reid of Villanova was named the Women’s Track Athlete of the Year. On the men’s side, Ngoni Makusha of Florida State and Will Claye of Florida received runner and field honors, respectively. For more information and continued coverage of summer competition, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.