Another Solid Weekend: It wasn’t a big weekend for the Lady Razorbacks in terms of raw numbers, but the results were fantastic. Of the eight athletes that went to the Stanford Invitational, Arkansas qualified six and in Joplin, Mo., one of the three athletes that competed posted a qualifier. At the Stanford meet, Arkansas got new qualifiers from the 10,000, 5,000, 1,500 and steeplechase.
Distances Rule the Day: The Arkansas distance runners at the Stanford Invitational were certainly up to the task, posting six qualifiers in five events. Paige Farrell posted a qualifier in the 800, although not an improvement, but Dacia Barr (1,500), Megan Jackson (steeplechase), Christine Kalmer and Dani Parry (5,000) and Denise Bargiachi (10,000) all added their names to Arkansas’ ever growing list of NCAA marks.
First Qualifier: Denise Bargiachi’s 10,000-meter run at the Stanford Invitational is her first NCAA Qualifier indoors or out. Running in section two of the race, Bargiachi cruised to a time of 33:53.61 to notch her first NCAA mark.
A National Qualifier: Perhaps, but we’ll have to wait and see. Denise Bargiachi’s 10,000-meter run at Stanford would have been the 19th best time in 2006 and would have earned her a spot at the NCAA Championships, but time will tell whether her provisional qualifier will stand.
The 80th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays: This year is the 80th anniversary of the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays and Arkansas has a golden opportunity to impress some people at the meet. Once again the meet includes some of the stiffest competition the Lady Razorbacks will see all season and the upside potential, especially in the sprints, is tremendous.
Last Year at the Texas Relays: The Lady Razorbacks had a good weekend at the Texas Relays a year ago, but the term “good” should probably be used in context with last season only. Arkansas posted six NCAA regional qualifiers at the meet including three new entries to their modest list and three improvements, notably both relays.
Relays Success: The Lady Razorbacks have had modest success at the Texas Relays over the years with seven individual victories at the meet. Two of those championships have come in relay events (4×800, distance medley) while five have been earned by individuals.
The Seven Titles: The first Lady Razorback to win a championship at the Texas Relays was Cynthia Moore in 1989 with a long jump of 20 feet, three inches. Since then Arkansas athletes and relays have won: Tracy Robertson (1999, 1,500), distance medley relay (2000), Amber Crumbo (2000, shot put), Deedee Brown (2002, heptathlon), Lilli Kleinmann (2002, steeplechase) and Maureen Scott (2004, steeplechase).
Who is Competing: The on again, off again schedule for the Lady Razorbacks is at hand once more as the Texas Relays focuses on the sprints and field events. Arkansas does have a few distance runners taking the track, but the relays are where it’s at with the Lady Razorbacks being represented in four contests.
The Schedule: The Lady Razorbacks have a full schedule to keep at the Texas Relays. Beginning on Wednesday with the heptathlon, action continues through Saturday although Friday looms as the Lady Razorbacks’ busiest day with 12 events scheduled.
Focus on Relays: With many of its athletes holding NCAA qualifiers, the Lady Razorbacks enter the 2007 Texas Relays with the ability to have fun and that includes focusing on some of the relays. The Lady’Backs are scheduled to compete in four relay events and are looking for their third relays title.
And Another One Bites the Dust: Chalk up another record for Jessica Cousins. With her effort at the Jim Click Shoot-Out, she notched her fifth University of Arkansas school record. She now owns or shares the indoor 400 and 4×4 relay and the outdoor 400, 4×4 relay and sprint medley relay.
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 first two 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.
Cousins at Texas: Jessica Cousins currently holds the seventh fastest 400 meters in the nation and is a prime example of what Arkansas is looking at this weekend. She will race in four relay and no individual events as she continues to tune up for championship season in May.
First Rankings: The first Trackwire Rankings came out on April 2 and the University of Arkansas was surprisingly absent. After finishing tied for 21st at the NCAA Indoor meet, one would think that Arkansas would crack into the top 25, but according to the Dandy Dozen, the Lady’Backs are only pegged to score nine points at the NCAA outdoor meet, two off the top 25 predications.
Qualifiers: Arkansas’ list of NCAA qualifiers continues to grow each week and just two weeks into the outdoor season and the Lady Razorbacks could put their list against anyone in the country. Currently, Arkansas has 19 NCAA regional and provisional qualifiers which is a massive improvement over this time last season when they had just 11. The other thing of note about Arkansas’ qualifiers is that they come in 14 different events as compared to just seven in 2006.
All-American: Stephanie Irwin earned the first all-America honor of her career at the NCAA Indoor Championships when she finished sixth in the pole vault. Clean through 13-5.25, the lack of misses were key to her placing and all-America status.
10th Honor, Fifth Individual: With her all-America honor, Stephanie Irwin becomes the fifth Lady Razorback to earn pole vault all-America honors indoors and takes Arkansas’ 10th honor.
Sterling Performances: A couple of the things we have yet to mention about the Stanford Invitational are the performaces of Dacia Barr and Christine Kalmer. Each put together an incredible race, especially for this early in the season. Barr finished her first 1,500 with a time of 4:18.00, just two seconds outside Arkansas’ all-time top 5 performances and Kalmer clocked out at 16:16.33 in the 5K.
Another Mark of Note: Another performance that we should mention, this one from the first weekend of competition is the throw of senior Carly Bloomfield in the javelin. At the Jim Click Shoot-Out, Bloomfield tossed the javelin 150 feet, two inches to record the third best toss in Lady Razorback history behind a pair of throws from former Lady’Back Jessica Sommerfeld. Bloomfield is just eight feet off the record set by Sommerfeld in 2002.
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.
Always the Bridesmaid, Never the . . .: Well, the analogy doesn’t quite work for Jodi Unger who is already married, but the thought is there. Beginning with the 2006 SEC Indoor Championships, Unger has finished as SEC runner-up three times and at each meet she has continued to push the bar higher. This year it was 13-8 1/4, a career best and she claimed second place on misses for the third straight championship.
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.