FAYETTEVILLE – Adding to a growing list of accolades, Tina Sutej has been named the Southeastern Conference Women’s Field Athlete of the Year for the 2011 indoor season, as announced Monday by the league office. The Razorback junior is the national leader in the pole vault, having most recently set the NCAA collegiate record in her signature event.
"This is a great honor for Tina," head coach Lance Harter said. "This is an award that is voted on by our coaching peer group so for them to recognize her shows great respect for the amount of work, time and effort Tina has put into breaking that collegiate record."
Sutej is the two-time defending SEC indoor champion in the pole vault. In retaining her title at the 2011 SEC Indoor Championships, she cleared a height of 14-10.75 to eclipse the nine-year record previously held by Amy Linnen of Arizona (14-10.25). Sutej owns the top four jumps in the nation this season and has won all six competitions she has entered this year.
With her win at the conference meet, Sutej became the first SEC student-athlete with back-to-back indoor pole vault titles. She is the second vaulter in conference history with two wins to her credit, joining former Razorback Stacie Manuel (2003, 2005). Arkansas has won five SEC indoor titles in the pole vault. Katie Stripling won the event in 2008.
In addition to establishing the NCAA record with her performance at the indoor conference meet, Sutej also set the Slovenian national record, SEC Championships meet record and school mark. She was the previous holder of all three records. Sutej has posted an NCAA automatic qualifier in each meet this season with a minimum clearance of 14-3.25.
During the season, Sutej has been recognized as the SEC Field Athlete of the Week in three consecutive weeks. At the New Balance Collegiate Invitational, Sutej won the event with a clearance of 14-7.25, a new meet record for the collegiate competition in New York.
The Ljubljana, Slovenia, native now has the top five jumps in school history, four of which have come this season. In further recognition of her outstanding performance this season, Sutej was added to the Bowerman Award watch list in February. The Bowerman is awarded annually to the top male and female collegiate athlete in NCAA track and field.
Sutej is the sixth Razorback athlete to garner an individual year-end award from the SEC, and the first Field Athlete of the Year in program history. She joins former Arkansas standouts Sarah Schwald (1995), Amy Yoder (2000), Manuel (2003), Veronica Campbell (2004) and Regina George (2010) on that list. The SEC Field Athlete of the Year was first given out during the 2004 season.
In a tape-delay broadcast, the 2011 SEC Indoor Championships will be aired Thursday on ESPNU at 8 p.m. (CT). The declaration list for the national championships detailing all accepted entries-automatic and at-large-is scheduled to be posted Monday evening. Competition at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships begin Friday at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium.
Download: Track Awards 2011_SEC.pdf