Wrapping up the NCAA Season: The NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships marks the end of the competitive NCAA season for the Lady Razorbacks and the 2004-05 campaign was certainly a good one. Three SEC runner-up performances, a 16th-place NCAA finish in cross country and 19th in indoor track, an individual national champion and seven conference champions were each earned by Lady Razorback athletes.
Next: Following the NCAA Championships, Arkansas’ season is far from over. Several current Lady’Backs are preparing for the USA Senior and Junior Championships which take place June 23-26 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Also moving on are Kasia Williams and Aneita Denton who return to their native Jamaica to compete in their national championship.
2-7-10-11: That’s the order in which Arkansas’ athletes for the NCAA meet were selected. It began with a pair of NCAA Automatic qualifiers in Alison Rush and Beyonka McDowell. Following the NCAA Mideast Regional, that number jumped to seven as Brandy Blackwood, Aneita Denton, Stacie Manuel, Maureen Scott and Kasia Williams each posted top five finishes. The regional meet left three Lady Razorbacks on the bubble to qualify and each was informed that they would compete following the release of the “final” list of athletes on Tuesday, May 31. Those athletes included Dacia Barr, Laura Jakosky and Erica Sigmont. On Thursday, June 2, the NCAA called Lady Razorback head coach Lance Harter and informed him that Penny Splichal was getting an invite to the meet completing Arkansas compliment of 11 athletes.
Last Year at the NCAA Meet: The Lady Razorbacks had a very good showing at the 2004 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Austin, Texas, when they finished 10th overall. Junior LaShaunte’a Moore won the NCAA title in the 200-meter dash completing an Arkansas sweep of the 200 meter races at the NCAA level while the Lady’Backs also picked up points in the 100, 1,500, 4×100 and pole vault.
2004 NCAA Outdoor ChampionshipsAustin, Texas • June 9-12, 2004
Another Top Five: In what is arguably the toughest of the four NCAA Regional meets, Arkansas picked up its third consecutive top five performance with a fifth-place showing at the Mideast Regional. The Lady Razorbacks scored 40 points and had a chance at fourth for the third consecutive year, but a 1-2 sweep of the triple jump by Ohio State propelled it to fourth, just 1.3 points ahead of Arkansas. The Lady Razorbacks were actually just 2.5 points away from third-place Michigan.
The NCAA Schedule: With the addition of rounds at the 2003 NCAA Outdoor Track Championships, the schedule has gotten quite long. Beginning on Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. with the women’s discus, the NCAA meet runs through late Saturday night. On the first day of competition, five of Arkansas’ 11 athletes will see action. Thursday calls for four more to step to the line while Arkansas’ 800-meter runners compete in the semifinals. Friday showcases a pair of finals and the beginning of the heptathlon and Saturday’s action starts at 11:00 a.m. with the heptathlon and wraps up the competition.
Trackwire Rankings: The Lady Razorbacks opened the 2005 outdoor track season in a similar position to where they ended the indoor season, tied for 15th with 14 points. In week two of the rankings, Arkansas fell to 12 points in the rankings and prior to the SEC meet ranked 25th overall with 10 points. Ever since week three, the Lady’Backs have fluctuated between 10 and 12 points and heading into the NCAA meet, Arkansas is projected to score points in the 800 and the heptathlon.
USTCA Power Rankings: After ending the 2005 indoor season ranked fourth in the country by the USTCA Power Rankings, they opened the 2005 outdoor campaign ranked 35th. Part of the reason for Arkansas’ lower ranking is that it doesn’t fill all the holes to get points. Some of the events Arkansas is lacking currently include the 400 hurdles and triple jump. The Lady Razorbacks ended the 2005 season ranked 40th with 313.06 points.
|Week One||T15th, 14 points||N/A|
|Week Two||T17th, 14 points||35th, 235.74 points|
|Week Three||21st, 12 points||43rd, 254.76 points|
|Week Four||23rd, 11 points||40th, 283.58 points|
|Week Five||22nd, 11 points||44th, 284.93 points|
|Week Six||T25th, 10 points||N/A|
|Week Seven||T21st, 12 points||N/A|
|Week Eight||T23, 11 points||40th, 313.06 points|
The Dandy Dozen: Trackwire bases its ranking off its “Dandy Dozen” that is publishes each week and currently five Lady Razorbacks are among the elite 12. In the 800 meters, Aneita Denton is ranked first with Beyonka McDowell taking eighth in the heptathlon to round out Arkansas’ projected scoring. The Lady Razorbacks have a trio of projected 10th-place finishers in Maureen Scott, Alison Rush and Stacie Manuel while Kasia Williams, who had been among the top seven or eight all season dropped out of the top 12.
Regional Champion: Senior Aneita Denton continued to rack up on her honors at the NCAA Mideast Regional when she took the regional championship in modest fashion. Running 2:04.75, Denton seemed to be cruising once she took the lead at 400 meters. The victory for Denton made her the first Lady Razorback to win an individual running event title since the regional meets began in 2003.
Undefeated: Ever since Aneita Denton lost what was one of the great races in collegiate 800-meter competition at the SEC Championships indoors, she has been undefeated in head-to-head competition at that distance. Denton returned with a vengeance and took the indoor 800-meter title, then came back outdoors to win the Mt. SAC Relays title and the SEC Championship. She took the regional meet title last week and hopes to complete her undefeated season at the NCAA Championships. Some may say that Denton is not truly undefeated as she did not run the fastest time of the prelims at the regional meet, but she did win her heat.
SEC Champion: To say that Aneita Denton looked impressive at the SEC Championships would be a disservice to her accomplishment. Denton rattled off back-to-back 800-meter efforts of 2:02.93 and 2:02.94 on way to winning her first Southeastern Conference title. Denton raced past the field winning the finals by three seconds, breaking away from the field at the 400 meter mark and never looking back.
NCAA Champion: Senior Aneita Denton became the 10th woman to win a NCAA Individual championship in March when she took the 800-meter title at the indoor meet. Running 2:03.65, Denton held on after taking a commanding lead with a lap to go to take the crown and claim the Lady’Back’s 11th overall title and 8th indoors.
The UA Indoor Record: Aneita Denton rewrote the UA record book for 800 meters this winter when she recorded the top four times in the race. Capped off by the third fastest time in collegiate history, Denton’s time of 2:01.96 destroyed the old record of 2:04.58 set by 2004 Olympian Nicole Teter.
The UA Outdoor Record: Former Lady Razorbacks Tanya Blake and Nicole Teter ran very fast in 1994 and 1992, respectively, but neither has a chance against Aneita Denton. Denton has now recorded three of Arkansas’ top five outdoor marks and could very well hold all five following the rounds of the NCAA Championships. Denton broke Arkansas’ record during prelims at the SEC Championships.
Just off the National Record: Aneita Denton’s time from the SEC Indoor Championships of 2:01.96 could have been a national record for her native Jamaica, but that record was broken just weeks earlier and stands at 2:01.95. Aneita Denton was a mere 0.01 seconds off the record.
Tops in the Nation: Aneita Denton got her first 800 meters under her belt with a bang when she took the collegiate lead in the event at 2:03.94. Her time was two seconds faster than North Carolina’s Erin Donahoe’s mark of 2:05.47. Denton ran the time at the Mt. SAC Relays against a world-class field, taking the relays title in the process.
Mt. SAC Relays Champion: It has been a while since a Lady Razorback has taken a Mt. SAC Relays Championship, but in 2005, Aneita Denton broke that string. Denton cruised to a time of 2:03.94 in Walnut, Calif., to take the invitational 800-meter title. She was Arkansas’ first winner at Mt. SAC since Christin Wurth and April Steiner each won an event in 2003.
Number 38 in the World: It was announced at the Mt. SAC Relays that Aneita Denton’s 800-meter run was the second fastest time in the world this year outdoors, but following the weekend’s updates it turned out that it was the third fastest. The top time in the world was run by Kenia Sinclair in Florida on April 16, one day prior to Denton’s run. Several weeks later, Denton now holds the 38th fastest time in the world this year behind numerous Olympic Games competitors and finalists.
First Heptathlon: Beyonka McDowell started one, but never finished a heptathlon prior to the SEC Championships and despite that posted a NCAA auto qualifier in the event. McDowell scored 5,518 points thanks to big performances in the long jump and shot put, but could have scored more had she put together a better hurdles performance meaning that she could challenge for a top eight spot at the NCAA meet.
Returning Home: For Beyonka McDowell, the trip to Sacramento for the NCAA Championships is a return to her roots. A native of Sacramento, McDowell has been looking forward to competing in front of friends and family all season and gets to do so over two days on Friday and Saturday.
Over 20 Feet: Senior Beyonka McDowell looked impressive throughout competition at the Stanford Invitational, but it was her long jump that turned the most heads. Leaping to an Arkansas career best 20 feet, five inches, McDowell looked as if she had found the springs of old that carried her to the U.S. Championships in the summer of 2003.
First Over 20 Since: As with Alison Rush, Beyonka McDowell was also making waves with her performance at Stanford. Her long jump of 20-5 was the first time a Lady Razorback soared over 20 feet since Angel Heath and Kerri-Ann Mitchell accomplished the task in the spring of 2002. Each leaped 20-3 3/4 that season. McDowell’s effort could be the best long jump in UA history since Toshei Woods in 1993 as it stands just one-quarter inch behind the number five mark in Arkansas history.
Over 20 Again and Again: Perhaps it’s the return or the potential to return “home” to California that makes her perform at an even higher level, but Beyonka McDowell has had a pair of majestic long jumps in the “Golden State” and recorded another when a trip was on the line. For the second time in as many meets, McDowell leaped over 20 feet, this time 20-5.75, improving on her jump of 20-5 at the beginning of the season. At the SEC Championships, McDowell went 20-1.75 in the heptathlon to guarantee her spot at the NCAA Championships.
Fourth Best: We should also note that McDowell’s long jump of 20-5.75 ties her for the fourth best long jump in Arkansas history, matching the mark of Toshei Woods effort in 1993 in Knoxville, Tenn. The Lady Razorback school record is held by Woods at 20-10.
First Ever: Arkansas athletes have won an impressive 55 conference outdoor championships including 42 since joining the SEC in 1992, but no one until 2005 had taken a 100-meter hurdles title when Kasia Williams edged the field in a tight race. Entering the final with the fastest preliminaries time, Williams squared off against some of the nation’s elite hurdlers and clocked 13.25 to take the tape and earn 10 points to Arkansas’ cause.
Williams Career Best: Although it was wind aided, Kasia Williams’ career best in the 100-meter hurdles came at the NCAA Regional meet a year ago when she ran 13.08 during prelims. The time placed her in a prime lane for the finals where she took fifth and earned a spot at the NCAA Championships.
Millrose Games Champion: Senior Kasia Williams returned to her hometown of New York City hoping to improve on her 60-meter hurdles time and solidify her qualifier for the NCAA Championships. Instead she did more than that when she not only took the top time out of the preliminaries, but posted a season best at 8.27 seconds on way to a victory at the 96th running of the Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden.
Scott Repeats: Junior Maureen Scott became the first woman in SEC history to win two conference steeplechase titles in 2005 when she won her second consecutive championship in the event in Nashville, Tenn. While not running as fast as she had a year ago, Scott still managed to win the event by a healthy margin and be one of just a couple of repeat champions this spring.
Third at Regionals: Arkansas’ coaching staff knew that Maureen Scott was ready to run fast and she proved that at the NCAA Regional Championships when she took six seconds off her season best and missed her personal best by just two on way to a third-place finish at the NCAA Mideast Regional. Scott clocked 10:18.03 to place herself among the leaders in the race and in the nation as she holds the 13th fastest mark heading into the NCAA Championships.
An All-American in the Steeplechase: Maureen Scott became just the second Lady Razorback to ever earn all-America honors in the steeplechase last season following in the footsteps of former Lady’Back Lilli Kleinmann.
Brains Too: In 2004, Maureen Scott not only earned all-America honors on the track with her finish in the steeplechase, but first-team academic all-America honors as awarded by CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine. Scott continues to maintain a 4.0 grade point average in exercise science and because of that was named ESPN The Magazine academic all-District VI first-team for the second straight season allowing her to move on to the national all-America ballot.
Three for Three: Due to contest guidelines, the Lady Razorbacks could only nominate three student-athletes for academic all-district honors and what they got in return was a pair of first teamers and a second-team athlete. Junior Maureen Scott picked up her second first-team award in as many years while Laura Jakosky also earned first team honors. Senior Alison (Zeinner) Rush was named to the second team on Friday, June 3.
Rush Dips Under 34: Senior Alison (Zeinner) Rush has led the Lady Razorback distance team throughout her final year and the Cincinnati, Ohio, native did it again at the Stanford Invitational when she completed 10,000 meters in 33:44.36. Now holding the 12th fastest time in the country, Rush’s NCAA automatic qualifier guarantees her a spot at the NCAA Championships for the second consecutive year.
First Since: Making Alison Rush’s Stanford Invitational 10,000-meter run so impressive is that not only did she break 34 minutes, but she becomes the first Lady Razorback since Amy Yoder Begley in 2001 to accomplish the feat. Yoder Begley ran 33:59.96 to win the NCAA title in Eugene, Ore., that season.
Fastest Since: Alison Rush put herself in elite company when she ran 33 minutes for 10,000 meters. She became the first woman since 15-time all-American Amy Yoder Begley to break 34 minutes and the time is also the fastest since Yoder Begley ran 33:06.84 during the 2000 season, coincidentally, the last time someone cracked into Arkansas’ top five for the event.
Four Individual Champions: The Lady Razorbacks tallied 124 points at the SEC Championships two weeks ago with 40 coming from individual victories. Arkansas’ four victors is their most since 2003, a year in which they also placed second, and continues a streak of eight years in which Arkansas has won at least three events at the SEC Outdoor meet dating back to 1998. Lady Razorback winners included Aneita Denton in the 800, Erica Sigmont (1,500), Maureen Scott (steeplechase) and Kasia Williams (100 hurdles).
Blackwood Sets the Record: After only three attempts during the outdoor season, Brandy Blackwood claimed the Arkansas record in the hammer throw with a superb toss of 190 feet, 10 inches. Breaking her personal best in the event by four feet, Blackwood is coming off a tremendous indoor season with the weight throw which has helped her outside.
Raising the Bar: After setting the indoor weight throw mark, Brandy Blackwood continued to throw further and further to put the record out of reach for a while. Outdoors she is doing the same thing. After setting the record at 190-10, Blackwood broke her mark with a toss of 192-7 at the SEC Championships on way to a fourth-place finish, then broke it again when she finished third at the NCAA Mideast Regional with a toss of 192-9.
The Weight Throw Mark: Brandy Blackwood looked solid throughout her junior year indoors, but what was not mentioned much was that she was coming off knee surgery in the fall which started her behind the eight ball. She flourished during the outdoor season and now is looking better than ever as she crushed Marie LeJour’s school record in the weight throw by two feet with a toss of 65-11. She has since broken her own school record with another tremendous toss of 66-2.5.
19th at the NCAA Indoors: Coming into the 2005 season very few would have believed that the Lady Razorbacks would be able to put together the season which they did. In fact even fewer would have believed it if you told them that Arkansas would finish 19th in the country at the NCAA Championships. Thanks to a NCAA Championship by Aneita Denton, a solid distance medley relay and Stacie Manuel’s pole vault, Arkansas tallied 12.5 points to place in the top 19 for the sixth consecutive season.
Seven Individuals, Eight Honors: Seven Lady Razorbacks earned eight all-America honors during the indoor season. Of those seven, four took the first honors of their career with three of those four being freshman. Arkansas’ indoor all-Americans included Dacia Barr, Brandy Blackwood, Tominque Boatright, Aneita Denton, Paige Farrell, Stacie Manuel and Kasia Williams.
Two Titles: Coming into 2005, the Lady Razorbacks had only won one Texas Relays Championship and that came in 2000 when Arkansas used Amy Yoder Begley, Tracy Robertson, Daphne Harris and Jessica Dailey to win the distance medley relay. The 2005 quartet of Dacia Barr, Aneita Denton, Paige Farrell and Erica Sigmont doubled Arkansas’ 2000 effort by not only taking the distance medley title, but also the 4×800 giving the Lady Razorbacks three Texas Relays Championship trophies.
Fastest in the World: Arkansas knew that it had four solid 800-meter runners, but no one expected them to do what they at the Drake Relays. In front of a sell-out crowd, the Lady Razorbacks ran the fastest time in the world this year in the 4×800-meter relay. Dacia Barr, Aneita Denton, Paige Farrell and Erica Sigmont put together a clinic at the meet defeating the favorites from Michigan and placing themselves among the world’s best with a time of 8:29.13.
Impressive at SECs: Erica Sigmont had a huge weekend at the SEC Championships when she scored in both the 800 and 1,500-meter runs, ran four races in three days and took the SEC title in the 1,500. Not too shabby for the senior, but to take a closer look at her times makes the feat even more impressive. She began the weekend on Friday with an 800 of 2:05.46. She returned on Saturday to post a 1,500 of 4:35.81. On Sunday she ran the 1,500-meter final in 4:26.12, then returned just over an hour later to run 2:07.43 to finish fifth.