And it Continues: After a solid opener the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks return to the track for the Razorback Invitational. The meet is the second of five home competitions for the Lady Razorbacks this winter and is the first two-day affair. Added to the lineup for the Razorback Invite is a multi-event competition which opens each day of action.
At the Arkansas: The Lady Razorbacks posted three NCAA qualifiers and got to see their freshman compete for the first time indoors. The results were positive in many ways as Jodi Unger and Stephanie Irwin each qualified in the vault with jumps over 13 feet and the 4×400-meter relay put together a qualifier despite some lingering illness. Arkansas’ freshman distance trio of Dani Parry, Brooke Upshaw and Miranda Walker performed admirably in their first tastes of indoor track at Arkansas, but it was sophomore Denise Bargiachi who showed her abilities with a near qualifier in the 3,000-meter run.
Three Qualifiers: While three NCAA provisional qualifiers may not seem like much, we should point out that it is three-times what Arkansas put together at the same meet last year. In 2006 Jodi Unger was Arkansas’ only qualifier at the first meet of the season and 2007 makes her just one of three. To give you an idea of some of the difference, Unger’s qualifier in 2006 was 12-11 1/2 compared to 13-5 1/4 in 2007. Stephanie Irwin’s qualifier also exceeded Unger’s 2006 mark at 13-1 1/2.
First Chance to Meet the Multis: The Lady Razorbacks have a pair of multi-eventers that could be making their debut in the event this weekend. Sophomore Megan Thompson competed in the heptathlon at the SEC meet a year ago and she could be joined by freshman Jennifer Fall and junior transfer Etienne Chaplin. The pentathlon competition is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. on Friday.
Bargiachi Delivers: One of Arkansas’ consistent top seven during the cross country season, Denise Bargiachi has rarely been mentioned with the likes of SEC Freshmen of the Years Brooke Upshaw or Christine Kalmer. However, her performance at the Arkansas Invitational could have her on the fast track to that level. Competing in the 3,000 meters, Bargiachi cruised to a near NCAA provisional qualifier with a time of 9:39.36.
Career Best: Denise Bargiachi’s 3,000-meter run at the Arkansas Invitational was a career best for the Memphis, Tenn., native. Her time of 9:39.36 was eight seconds ahead of the time she ran last winter and puts her on pace to notch a qualifier once she settles into the indoor season.
NCAA Media Credentials: The on-line request form for NCAA media credentials is scheduled to go live at mid-week. Please advise those that may be attending to fill out their request form at LADYBACKS.com as soon as possible.
The Razorback Schedule: The schedule for this weekend gives fans smaller windows to see the competition which is quite fan-friendly. Multi-event competitions begin at noon at 12:30 p.m. on Friday with finals heating up at 6:00 p.m. and running through 8:30. Saturday’s portion of the meet begins at 11:00 a.m. with the multi-event with finals beginning at noon. Saturday’s competition should conclude around 5 p.m.
Trackwire Rankings: The first set of rankings has been delivered and they come from Trackwire. In those rankings the Lady Razorbacks open the year with 15 points and ranked 17th in the nation. Stanford leads the way with 55 points. Trackwire projects finishes for each event and ranks teams accordingly.
Trackwire Dandy Dozen: In its effort to rank teams Trackwire posts its individual rankings with the release of each poll. This week, Arkansas finds four individuals and teams among the nation’s elite with senior Jodi Unger leading the way in the pole vault. Ranked number one with teammate Stephanie Irwin six, Arkansas looks to have a big day at the national meet in the vault. Arkansas’ 4×400-meter relay is the only other scoring potential, ranked seventh in the relay. Junior Tominque Boatright is ranked 10th as an individual in the 400 meters.
USTCCCA Rankings: Adding to the confusion in 2007 are the US Track & Cross Country Coaches Association rankings which are scheduled to debut on January 29.
Boatright’s Emergence: Of the four members of Arkansas’ 4×400-meter relay, Tominque Boatright has started to separate herself from the group on the individual level. The Arkansas school record-holder both indoors and out at 400 meters, Boatright completed her sophomore season with a trip to the NCAA Championships in the 400 meters.
Solid Beginning: Tominque Boatright was one of the Lady Razorbacks suffering with the lingering effects of illness at the Arkansas Invitational, but that didn’t stop Arkansas’ 400-meter ace from running a great 4×400-meter leg to conclude the meet. She posted a solid split and anchored the Lady Razorbacks to a NCAA provisional qualifier.
The 4×4: One of Arkansas’ strengths in 2007 should be its 4×400-meter relay who returns to the track after a tremendous spring. With each of its four legs back and healthy, the Lady Razorbacks hope to improve upon their amazing NCAA Outdoor finish where they ran 3:28. Arkansas’ relay was started by Sasha Rolle and continued by Jessica Cousins and Paige Farrell before Tominque Boatright anchored it home.
What an Opener: Senior Jodi Unger left nothing to the imagination when she took the runway at the Arkansas Invitational. Jumping a near career best 13-5 1/4, Unger proved why she was a two-time all-American in the event in 2006. More impressive than her near career best was the fact that she tweaked her knee in practice early in the week and was jumping from a short approach with a small pole.
Ranked Number One: With the release of the Trackwire Dandy Dozen, Jodi Unger finds herself ranked number one in the nation. The ranking is the best of her career for the two-time all-American and puts a target on her back for the rest of the nation.
14 Feet: That is the mark that Unger is going for this winter. 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.
Best Ever?: When speaking about the great pole vaulters that have come through the doors of the University of Arkansas you can’t have the discussion without Unger’s name. The Texas native has as many all-America honors (2) as all but one other Lady Razorback (Steiner) and broke the conference outdoor championship record of Steiner’s. Is Unger the best to ever compete Arkansas, probably not yet, but by the end of the 2007 seasons, she could be.
Unger: Jodi Unger had an amazing 2006 season, earning all-America honors in both indoor and outdoor track in the pole vault. She cleared personal bests during both seasons and her vault of 13-11 at the SEC Outdoor Championships set the conference championship record as well as placed second all-time in Arkansas history.
Vault looks Strong Again: The name recognition may not be as large as it once was, but the Lady Razorback pole vaulters should have a tremendous year. Led by two-time all-American Jodi Unger, Arkansas’ four pole vaulters could shock people this winter with their skill. Joining Unger on the runway are junior Stephanie Irwin, sophomore Megan Scott and redshirt freshman Katie Stripling.
SEC Champions: The Lady Razorbacks enter 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.
Year Eight: Believe it or not, but the Randal Tyson Track Center is eight years old in 2007. Opening its doors in February of 2000, the building is set to host its eighth NCAA Championships in March.
Postseason Cross Country Awards: Arkansas was highly decorated throughout the cross country season and the post season awards are one indicator. Lance Harter was named the SEC’s Coach of the Year for the 11th time. Freshman Brooke Upshaw won the league’s female athlete of the year award with fellow first-year Dani Parry taking the SEC Freshman of the Year title. Upshaw was also an all-American at the NCAA Championships.
Returning All-Americans: The Lady Razorbacks have seven athletes this winter who have earned all-America status during their careers. Tominque Boatright is the most decorated with three honors followed closely by Paige Farrell and Jodi Unger with two each. Dacia Barr, Jessica Cousins, Sasha Rolle and Brooke Upshaw each have one certificate to their credit.
The Distance Team: Not since the early part of the millennium has Arkansas assembled a distance team like it has currently. The last time the Lady’Backs had such firepower was when the likes of Amy Yoder Begley, Jessica Dailey, Tracy Robertson and Lilli Kleinmann stepped on the track. The 2007 youngsters include Brooke Upshaw, Denise Bargiachi, Christine Kalmer, Dani Parry, Dacia Barr, Kelly Vrshek and Miranda Walker to name a few.
Upshaw’s Fall: Few athletes in Lady Razorback history have had a fall like Brooke Upshaw. In her first semester of collegiate running, Upshaw won a conference individual title, earned first-team all-conference honors, earned all-America honors and was named the SEC’s Athlete of the Year. Not bad for an 18-year-old who at this time last year was deciding which college to attend.