Lady’Backs Rolling: The Lady Razorbacks are having a tremendous outdoor season and it only seems like it will get better. With 24 NCAA automatic, provisional and regional qualifiers, Arkansas athletes have an opportunity to compete in 11 events at the regional and national championships were they held today. Leading the way is Arkansas’ distance crew who have earned 12 of the marks in the 1,500 to 10,000 meter run.
Welcome Home: For the first and only time this spring the Lady Razorback are competing at home. After five indoor track meets in Fayetteville, Arkansas enjoys the hard work of other schools during the outdoor season except for this weekend which falls between two major competitions in 2005, the Mt. SAC and Penn Relays.
Named After the Hall of Fame Coach: In the spring of 2000, John Lewis, the former CEO of the Bank of Fayetteville, and title sponsor for the Bank of Fayetteville Invitational asked that Arkansas’ outdoor meet’s name be changed to the John McDonnell Invitational in honor of the men’s track coach who at the time had won 34 national championships.
The Lady Razorbacks at the 2004 John McDonnell: It was an awful day in Fayetteville for the 2004 John McDonnell Invitational as rain and frigid conditions prevented anyone from performing at their best. The dangerous conditions forced several of the field events indoors to the Randal Tyson Track Center where Stacie Manuel cleared 14 feet, but the mark didn’t count as it was competed indoors. Overall, the Lady’Backs put together four NCAA regional qualifiers, three in the 100-meter hurdles.
The Weather Forecast: According to weather.com, the forecast for Saturday calls for partly cloudy skies and a high temperature of 68 degrees. If the forecast holds, the 2005 John McDonnell Invitational could be one of the nicest in recent memory.
Last Weekend at Mt. SAC: The Lady Razorbacks looked very good at the Mt. SAC Relays last weekend as they posted five NCAA regional and provisional qualifiers and improved on two others. Seniors led the way as Aneita Denton, Laura Jakosky, Beyonka McDowell, Alison Rush, Erica Sigmont, Penny Splichal and Kasia Williams each put together splendid performances. Denton’s 800-meter run was the third fastest in the world this year and the fastest by a collegiate. Junior Maureen Scott also improved in the steeplechase.
Seniors Look to Go Out on a High Note: The Lady Razorback senior class has been a huge part of Arkansas’ history and success over the past four years and with their final competitive seasons in mid form, they are doing their best to perform at the highest levels. Evidence of that came at the Mt. SAC Relays as each stepped up in their respective events to post NCAA qualifiers and you only have to look as far back as the indoor season to see their scoring potential at the SEC Indoor Championships. With just two months left in their Lady Razorback careers, expect each to perform at a higher level.
The Schedule: The schedule for the John McDonnell Invitational runs from 9:00 a.m. through 7:30 p.m., but not every event is one of focus. The hammer throws and javelin are conducted early for safety concerns before events on the track even begin. Running events begin at 1:00 p.m. with the unseeded sections of the 3,000 meters followed by other unseeded sections and prelims. Finals in the running events are scheduled to begin at 5:00 p.m. with the 4×100-meter relay. Most of the field events are to take place in the early afternoon.
Trackwire Rankings: The Lady Razorbacks opened the 2005 outdoor track season in a similar position to where they ended the indoor season, tied for 15th with 14 points. In week two of the rankings, Arkansas fell to 12 points in the rankings this week and to 21st overall. Arkansas is projected to score points in the 800 and 100 hurdles at the NCAA Championships this spring.
USTCA Power Rankings: After ending the 2005 indoor season ranked fourth in the country by the USTCA Power Rankings, they opened the 2005 outdoor campaign ranked 35th. While it seems like a large difference, it should be noted that Arkansas has yet to compete in several events this spring bringing their score down.