Rolling: That might be one of the best words to describe the Lady Razorback track team. This past weekend, Lady Razorback athletes and relays won three major championships, qualified 13 times and produced what turned out to be the nation’s second fastest time in the 1,500.
At the Penn Relays: The vaulters and throwers competed at the Penn Relays and had a moderately successful weekend, but the surprise came in the vault where Katie Stripling upset both her teammates to take the Penn Relays pole vault title.
Penn Relays Champion: If you had asked Arkansas’s coaching staff who on the Lady Razorback roster had the best chance to win the pole vault at the Penn Relays, you can guarantee that none would have chosen Katie Stripling. In fact that is exactly what happened as she cleared 13-1 1/2 on her first attempt to upset defending champion Jodi Unger and solidify herself as a force to come.
Fourth in Five Years: Katie Stripling’s Penn Relays Championship makes her the fourth different Lady Razorback pole vaulter in five years to claim the title. She joins the ranks of former Lady Razorbacks April Steiner and Stacie Manuel and current Lady’Back Jodi Unger.
SEC Athlete of the Week: For her part at the Penn Relays, Katie Stripling was named the SEC’s Female Field Athlete of the Week. She is the first Lady’Back this season to earn an athlete of the week honor and second in track in 2006-07. The last Lady’Back to earn athlete of the week outdoors was Aneita Denton in 2005.
At Drake: Following Arkansas’s success at the Penn Relays, the Drake Relays contingent, made up of sprinters and horizontal jumpers, stepped up their game. The sprint crew won both the 4×2 and 4×4 relays, set a school record in the 4×2, and finished second in the sprint medley.
Drake Relays Champions: Not to be outdone by the Penn Relays, Arkansas’s 4×200-meter relay won the Drake Relays Championship with a school record time of 1:33.23. The quartet of LaKeisha Martin, Tominque Boatright, Sasha Rolle and Jessica Cousins beat the defending champions, La. Tech, by more than a second on their way to the title.
Third Relays Title, Second 4×2: Arkansas’s 4×200-meter relay championship at the Drake Relays is its third title from the Des Moines, Iowa hosted meet which just completed its 98th year. The championship is also Arkansas’s second 4×200-meter relay (2002). The only other Lady Razorback championship came in the 4×800-meter relay.
Arkansas Twilight: The University of Arkansas hosts the Arkansas Twilight meet this Friday night, May 4. The meet is expected to have small fields as teams prepare for their conference championships.
Not So Fast: Just when you thought Arkansas was done, here come the distance runners at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational. Lady Razorback runners went six-for-six in qualifying in California with Dacia Barr clocking the second fastest 1,500 meters in the nation. Caroline Peyton also had a great meet, dropping her steeplechase best by 18 seconds.
Tentative Schedule: Since no one is sure exactly who is coming to the Arkansas Twilight meet, the schedule for the competition is tentative at best. Events could be scratched entirely if no one enters and entries are not due until Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. central.
Select Lady’Backs: There won’t be many Lady Razorbacks competing at the Arkansas Twilight meet on Friday. Mostly those who might need a little extra work or want to stay sharp as Arkansas prepares for the SEC Championships next weekend.
Final Home Meet: This is the final weekend that the Lady Razorbacks compete at home during the 2006-07 seasons. After Friday night, Arkansas goes on the road for the SEC Championships in Tuscaloosa, Ala., the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships in Columbia, Mo., then the NCAA Championships in Sacramento, Calif.
Perhaps the Best Weekend: Sasha Rolle had perhaps the best weekend of any Lady Razorback. Rolle was a fixture on Arkansas’s 4×1, 4×2, 4×4 and sprint medley relays at Drake and was key to each relay’s success. Rolle ran the back stretch in the 4×1, split 23 seconds in the 4×2 on way to a school record, opened the 4×4 with a 53-second split and ran a 51.8 on in the sprint medley.
Who’s Next: Two weeks ago it was LaKeisha Martin who stepped up for Arkansas’s sprint team, last weekend it was Sasha Rolle so who’s next? Jessica Cousins and Tominque Boatright have been good all year, but does one of them take the next step or does someone else make a move?
Second Fastest: Dacia Barr was rolling at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invite last weekend. Running in an elite section of the 1,500 meters, Barr was the first collegiate across the line and ran 4:15.10, the second fastest time in the nation this season.
One of the Premier 1,500 Runners: After two years of knocking on the door, Dacia Barr is emerging as one of the premier 1,500-meter runners in the country. Her Stanford Invitational time of 4:18.00 in the event still stands as the fifth fastest in the nation and second in the mideast region behind Michigan’s Nicole Edwards (4:16.47).
Number Five: Dacia Barr’s 1,500-meter run at Stanford was the fifth fastest time in Arkansas history behind Chrisitn Wurth’s late season runs in 2003.
SEC Championship Credentials: Media members wishing to attend the SEC Outdoor Track Championships at the University of Alabama need to contact Jason Kirksey in the Alabama Sports Information Office. Kirksey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Qualifiers: Arkansas’s list of NCAA regional and provisional qualifiers grew once more and is now at 34. 32 of those marks are regional qualifiers and have been set by 25 individuals or teams in 14 different events. Arkansas athletes are well represented in every discipline from the sprints, relays and field events to the middle distances and distance runners. Loaded events for Arkansas this season are the 200 meters (4), 400 meters (3), Steeplechase (3), 100 hurdles (4), 5,000 meters (4) and pole vault (3).
What was Added: Based on last weekend’s performances, the Lady Razorbacks added qualifiers in the steeplechase and 5,000-meter run. Caroline Peyton and Tiffany Redlarczyk were included in the steeple while Denise Bargiachi earned a 5,000-meter qualifier.
Another Stellar Time: Jessica Cousins has been assaulting the Lady Razorback 400-meter records all season, but who knew she would have a go at the 200-meter mark as well. At the John McDonnell Invitational, Cousins ran 23.07 with a 2.9 tailwind. She nearly became just the third Lady Razorback to ever dip under 23 seconds for the race and is the third fastest Lady Razorback behind Olympians Veronica Campbell and LaShaunte’a Moore.
Cousins Makes it Two: With her 400-meter leg in Arkansas’s sprint medley relay, Jessica Cousins made it two school records for the spring season keeping her total of Arkansas school records at five. During the brief 2007 outdoor season she broke the 400-meter record at the Jim Click Shoot-Out and improved the sprint medley relay mark which she already had her name attached to at the Texas Relays.
Blistering: That might be the best way to describe Jessica Cousins pace in the 400 meters this season. Indoors she exploded at the SEC Championships to set the school record, then broke it two more times to settle at 52.60. Outdoors she opened her season with a school record performance of 52.81. What could be next, perhaps 51?
All-America: Jessica Cousins earned her second and third all-America certificates during the 2007 indoor season. She took her first in the 400 meters when she finished fifth (coincidentally, it was the highest finish by any Lady Razorback), then helped the 4×400-meter relay to a seventh-place finish for her second all-America honor.
14 Feet: That is the mark that Unger has gone after all year. If she can clear 14 feet at any point this season, she could become just the second Lady Razorback to ever make the bar joining the elite company of April Steiner who did it both indoors and outdoors.
Three-Time all-American: Jodi Unger is one of three Lady Razorbacks to earn three all-America honors in the pole vault during her career. She is chasing April Steiner’s school record of four set between 2001-03.