Its Getting Better All the Time: The Lady Razorbacks had a decent week one, but week two was leaps and bounds better. Arkansas picked up eight NCAA qualifiers at the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville including the sprints, distances and field events.
A Weekend Off: The Lady Razorbacks stayed home last weekend and took the time off from competition. Now fully rested, Arkansas looks to make waves in New York City.
The New Balance Collegiate Invitational: Arkansas wasted little time getting to its biggest meet of the season, the New Balance Collegiate Invitational. The Lady Razorbacks are just one of a number of schools from all around the country that are descending upon New York City and The Armory Track and Field Center. Other schools of significance include Alabama, LSU, Miami, Oklahoma, S. Carolina and Texas A&M.
Last Season at New Balance: Despite a roster that was not as deep as in year’s past, the Lady Razorbacks still maintained their poise and picked up a fifth-place finish at the 2006 New Balance. Stephanie Irwin won the championship pole vault competition making her the second Lady Razorback to do so in as many years. Arkansas also picked up an NCAA qualifier at the meet with Penny splichal’s 5,000-meter run.
Cousins Peaking: If the Razorback Invitational is any indicator, junior Jessica Cousins is beginning to hit her peak performances. In her last competitions, she provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championships in both the 200 and 400 meters and then helped Arkansas’ 4×400-meter relay improve upon its NCAA qualifier. Cousins is the first and only Lady Razorback in 2007 to be qualified in more than one individual event.
Career Bests: Not only did Jessica Cousins qualify in the 200 and 400-meter dashes at the Razorback Invitational, she destroyed her previous career bests in the event. Cousins’ 200-meter dash of 23.81 was three-tenths better than her mark from last season while her 400-meter time of 54.22 was nearly two full seconds better than her 2006 best.
All-American: Jessica Cousins is one of seven returning Lady Razorback all-Americans having earned her honor at last season’s NCAA Outdoor meet. Running Arkansas’ second leg on the 4×400-meter relay, Cousins helped the Lady’Backs finish third at the NCAA Championships in the event.
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 Schedule: Competition at the New Balance meet is scheduled to begin early in the day, but it is also meant to end early. Friday’s competition starts at 11:00 a.m. and runs though 5:30 p.m., while Saturday gets a very early start at 8:45 and goes through 5:00. The Lady Razorbacks are well represented on both days of competition with 10 competitions on Friday and 12 on Saturday.
Where to Find the Lady’Backs: The Lady Razorbacks are going to be all over the place at the New Balance competing in everything from the short sprints to the horizontal jumps. Most of the Lady Razorback competitors are focusing on a single event, but a couple are set to tackle multiple competitions. Big events for the Lady Razorbacks this weekend include the championship pole vault (3) and the championship 5,000 meters (3).
Tyson Invitational: While Arkansas is focused on the New Balance Collegiate Invite, we should mention that the highly anticipated Tyson Invitational is just around the corner. Events begin on Friday, Feb. 9 and run through the evening of Saturday, Feb. 10.
Tyson Invite Press Luncheon: We should also point out that the Tyson Invitational annual press luncheon is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 6 at noon at Bud Walton Arena. Media members are encouraged to attend the press conference and lunch.
What a Story: The story of Christine Kalmer and her trip back to the United States from her native South Africa is relatively unappealing. She spent more than 20 hours traveling through various airports and customs, etc., etc. The story is what she did just days after she arrived. In her first race, Kalmer qualified in the 3,000-meter run with a career best effort of 9:30.42.
First Indoor Qualifier: For everything that Christine Kalmer did last year, SEC Cross Country Freshman of the Year, NCAA Outdoor Championships competitor, etc., one thing that she did not accomplish was qualifying for the NCAA Indoor Championships. Her run at the Razorback Invitational ended that as she not just qualified, but produced what is currently the sixth best run in the nation.
She Does it Again: Senior Jodi Unger had a tremendous opener when she cleared 13-5 1/4, but her week two performance was even better as she vaulted over 13-6 1/4. Once again winning the competition handily, Unger matched her indoor career best with the performance.
Ranked Number One: With the release of the Trackwire Dandy Dozen, Jodi Unger found 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. She has been ranked number one in the pole vault for three consecutive weeks.
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.
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.
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.
Trackwire Rankings: Three weeks into the Trackwire Rankings and Arkansas has been up and down. Starting the season at 17th, the Lady’Backs moved up to 13th in the week two poll before settling downat number 16 in week three. The one relatively consistent factor is that Arkansas started the season with 15 points, moved up to 16 and then fell to 14, but the two point sway is minimal.
Trackwire Dandy Dozen: In its effort to rank teams Trackwire posts its individual rankings with the release of each poll. Arkansas finds five individuals and teams among the nation’s elite with senior Jodi Unger leading the way in the pole vault. Other Lady Razorbacks ranked are Stephanie Irwin in the pole vault, Tominque Boatright in the 400, Christine Kalmer in the mile and the 4×400-meter relay.
Qualifiers: The Lady Razorbacks have eight times and marks qualified for the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships. Each of the eight marks would make the cut if the season were to end today and seven of the eight are among the top 10 in the nation. Arkansas has two athletes qualified in the both the 400 meters and pole vault and have picked up additional qualifiers in the 200, mile, 3,000 and 4×400-meter relay.
Compared to Last Season: If you look at the Lady Razorbacks in 2007 relative to what they did in 2006, there is no comparison. Arkansas’ 2007 squad has eight NCAA provisional qualifiers compared to four at the same point in 2006. Amazingly, the Lady’Backs eight qualifiers match their entire 2006 indoor season total. The only thing that the 2006 team had at the end of the year that Arkansas has yet to reach is that last year’s team qualified in seven different events compared to Arkansas’ six this winter.
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.
First 400: Running her first open 400-meter race of the season didn’t hurt Tominque Boatright, in fact it was a splendid start. Boatright clocked 53.98 in her opening competition to provisionally qualify for the NCAA Championships and post the fifth fastest time in the nation.
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.
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.