A Month of Excellence: The Lady Razorbacks continued to excel at the Arkansas Twilight Meet despite a limited roster. This weekend’s action saw the fourth longest javelin toss in Lady Razorback history and the Bahamian national record in the 100-meter hurdles. This is the fourth straight weekend that Arkansas athletes have been at their best starting with the weekend of April 13-15.
Championships Season: It has been looming for several weeks now and this weekend begins the outdoor track championships season. The Lady Razorbacks head to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the SEC Championships, a competition that kicks off three straight championship competitions.
Last Year at the SEC Meet: The 2006 SEC Championships was one that the Lady Razorbacks would just assume forget based on their final outcome, seventh. It was the opening of the newly constructed John McDonnell Field, but injury and youth dominated the Lady Razorbacks participation.
National Record Holder: Based on her performance at the Arkansas Twilight Meet, senior Tiavannia Thompson is now the Bahamian national record holder for the 100-meter hurdles. On Arkansas’s home track, Thompson clocked 13.26 in the race with an allowable wind of 1.9 m/s.
Career Best: Tiavannia Thompsons’ 100-meter hurdles of 13.26 at the Arkansas Twilight Meet was obviously a career best, dropping her time by a tenth of a second from last season. Surprisingly though, it was a three-tenths drop from her previous season best heading into the weekend.
SEC Runner of the Week: Thanks to her national record and rise in the NCAA national list, Tiavannia Thompson was named the Southeastern Conference’s Runner of the Week. The honor is the second of her career and her second this season.
Previous Award: Tiavannia Thompson’s previous SEC Athlete of the Week award came in the waning moments of the 2007 indoor season when she popped a huge NCAA qualifier.
A Four-Day Affair: The SEC Championships are certainly the longest and most intense meet that the Lady Razorbacks will have faced this year. The four-day competition begins on Wednesday, May 10 and runs through Sunday, May 13. Competition begins with the first day of the multi-events followed by finals in the hammer, multis and 10,000 meters on Friday. Running event prelims and field event finals take place on Saturday with all finals scheduled for Sunday.
Arkansas’s Lineup: For the first time in a long time, and perhaps ever, the Lady Razorbacks are bringing a full compliment of 30 athletes to the SEC Championships. Balanced nicely between the sprints, field event and distance runners, Arkansas should be able to attack from nearly every event at the SEC meet.
Big Events: There are several events that Arkansas is going to have to score big points in if it hopes to win a fourth SEC outdoor Title. Those events at the 2007 championships include the 5,000, 10,000, pole vault and steeplechase.
Her Time: Could it finally be? Her final SEC competition and Jodi Unger finally gets the monkey off her back and adds Southeastern Conference Champion to her ever-growing and impressive resume? She enters the meet as the conference leader at 13-5 1/2 and has a career best outdoors over 13-11 which she coincidentally set at the SEC Championships a year ago. After three SEC runner-up honors, the 2007 outdoor season could be one of Unger’s crowning acheivements.
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 SEC Runner-Up: While we are going over Jodi Unger’s acheivements we should point out that she is a three-time SEC runner-up, twice indoors and once outside. She has finished second to Georgia’s Kierney Jackson twice and to Florida’s Natalie Moser once over the past three SEC meets.
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.
Another Runner-Up: Arkansas has seemed to have its fair share of SEC runners-up over the past couple of years and on the outside looking in is junior Dacia Barr. She has finished second to Tennessee’s Sarah Bowman in the 1,500 meters one time (2006), once in the mile (2006) and once in the 3,000 meters (2007).
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.
Distance Dominance: The Lady Razorbacks have long been known for its prowess in the distance races and that has been evident over the years at the SEC Championships. Since joining the league in 1992, Arkansas has won nine 5,000-meter titles, seven, 10,000-meter crowns, five steeplechase honors and eight of the now defunct 3,000-meter victories.
Queens of the Steeplechase: The Lady Razorbacks have been a dominant force in the steeplechase since it was adopted as an event in 2001. Former Lady’Back Lilli Kleinmann was the first SEC Champion and still holds the conference record in the event and Arkansas athletes have won five of the six SEC titles contested. Other Lady’Backs to win include Maureen Scott (twice), Shiloh Whiting and current Lady Razorback Tiffany Redlarczyk.
Defending SEC Champion: The Lady Razorbacks have one defending SEC Champion entering the weekend and that is Tiffany Redlarczyk who surprised many last spring when she walked away with the steeplechase title. Redlarczyk enters the SEC meet in 2007 with the fifth fastes time in the conference, 10:32.81.
Long Distance Dry Spell: While Arkansas’s distance runners have been superb over the years, the long distances have hit a bit of a dry spell. Arkansas has not taken a SEC Outdoor title in the 5,000 or 10,000 meters since the 2003 season when Penny Splichal won the 10K at Tennessee.
SEC Champions: The Lady Razorbacks entered the 2007 indoor season with an honor it has not had in three years, SEC Champions. Arkansas’ cross country team dominated the conference championship held at LSU in October to win its 11th SEC Cross Country title.
17 SEC Championships: Arkansas’ 11 SEC Cross Country titles are the base of the Lady Razorback’s 17 conference championships in cross country, indoor and outdoor track. The Lady Razorbacks have also won three indoor and three outdoor titles.
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.
Qualifiers: The Lady Razorbacks’ list of NCAA qualifiers is staggering. Arkansas currently has 37 marks and times qualified for the regional or national championships, quite possibly its largest number ever. Those 37 marks have been earned by 23 individuals in 17 different events.
A Second Field Athlete of the Week: For her part in Arkansas’s Twilight Meet, senior Carly Bloomfield was named the SEC Field Athlete of the Week on May 8. Bloomfield tossed the javelin to a fifth consecutive NCAA regional qualifier and the fourth best throw in Lady Razoirback history to win the award.
SEC Championships Uplink: For those in television media, there is an uplink of highlights from the SEC Championships on Sunday evening following the conclusion of the event. The uplink is scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m. central.
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.
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 Three: With her 200-meter leg in Arkansas’s 4×200-meter relay, Jessica Cousins made it three school records for the spring season keeping her total of Arkansas school records at five. She broke the 400-meter record at the Jim Click Shoot-Out, improved the sprint medley relay mark which she already had her name attached to at the Texas Relays and helped shatter the 4×200 at the Drake 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?