One Month In: Believe it or not, the University of Arkansas track team is one month into its outdoor track season this weekend. While there is still a long way to go, the season is certainly flying by making this another key weekend to pick up NCAA qualifiers.
Last Weekend: If you take away the weather at the Texas Relays, Arkansas may have had an outstanding weekend; instead it falls under the very good range as parts of the team were unable to compete. Arkansas broke the school record in the sprint medley relay with Tominque Boatright, Jessica Cousins, Paige Farrell and Lakeisha Martin, watched Etienne Chaplin qualify in the 100-meter hurdles on way to a provisional mark in the heptathlon and saw Katie Stripling notch her first NCAA qualifier in the pole vault.
Another Split Weekend: In another effort to pick the best competitions for its athletes, the Lady Razorbacks will split its squad up once again, this time two and a half ways for the Mt. SAC Relays, Rafer Johnson-Jackie Joyner Kersee Invitational and John Jacobs Invite. One faction heads to Los Angeles, Calif., for the Walnut and Westwood based meets, while the other drives to Norman, Okla.
A Second School Record: Arkansas athletes set a second school record this spring with their run in the sprint medley relay at the Texas Relays. The quartet of Lakeisha Martin, Tominque Boatright, Jessica Cousins and Paige Farrell ran 3:48.25 to shatter the old record of 3:52.20 which was set just last year at the Penn Relays. Martin came out of the blocks at 23.8 seconds followed by Boatright’s 22.8. At this point things really heated up for Arkansas as Cousins ran 52.2 for 400 meters and Farrell anchored in 2:06.1.
Third Relays Title: Arkansas’ school record in the sprint medley relay also gave it its third Texas Relays title. Arkansas’ first came in the distance medley relay back in 2000 followed by the 4×800-meter relay two years ago.
A Growing List: One would think that Arkansas’ success this spring would begin to flounder, but not so. The Lady Razorbacks have 22 times and marks qualified for post season competition with 20 poised and ready for the NCAA Mideast Regional in Columbia, Mo., May 25-26.
Schedules: With so many schedules to keep this should be a very interesting weekend for the Lady Razorbacks. It appears that Arkansas is competing on Friday, April 13 at the Mt. SAC Relays and Rafer Johnson meets beginning at 5:30 p.m. pacific and running through 8:15 p.m. Arkansas’s participation at the John Jacobs Invite begins at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 14 and run through 4:30 p.m.
Competitors: Arkansas has its largest list of contestants this weekend with the three meets scheduled. 10 Lady Razorbacks are set to hit the west coast while another 21 are looking at Norman, Okla., as their destination. The California contingent is comprised of distance runners while Norman boasts sprints, middle distance and field personnel.
Improving: Out of the 31 student-athletes that the Lady Razorbacks have set to compete this weekend just a few have yet to make a NCAA qualifier making this weekend one for improvements. Nearly every Lady Razorback is scheduled in their primary events and the emphasis will be to improve their standing on the national descending order list.
Cousins Makes it Two: With her 400-meter leg in Arkansas’s sprint medley relay, Jessica Cousins made it two school records for the spring season keeping her total of Arkansas school records at five. During the brief 2007 outdoor season she broke the 400-meter record at the Jim Click Shoot-Out and improved the sprint medley relay mark which she already had her name attached to at the Texas 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? All-America: Jessica Cousins earned her second and third 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.
Beckford Hurls Her Way Forward: Peter-Gaye Beckford was a contributor to the indoor season, but what she has done so far is certainly grounds for pause. She has qualified for the NCAA regional championships in both the long and . . . javelin? In fact, Beckford’s javelin of 154-5 at the Texas Relays is the second farthest throw in school history.
Qualifiers: Arkansas’ list of NCAA qualifiers continues to grow each week and with another couple of additions to the list at the Texas Relays Arkansas has 21 NCAA regional and provisional qualifiers. At this point in the season last year, Arkansas had just 14 qualifiers in 10 events and ended the year with 22 in 14 events.
Individual Rankings: Arkansas’ list of qualifiers is impressive but its rankings look even better. Four Lady Razorback marks stand among the top 10 in the nation with another four among the top 15. Arkansas’s two provisional qualifiers (potential gateways straight to the NCAA Championships) currently rank high enough (12th) to make the national meet if it were held today.
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 was 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.
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.
Team Rankings: For the second straight week the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team is missing from the Trackwire Rankings. Perhaps it is based on additional events or performers, but the Lady Razorbacks are projected for 10 points at the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Championships, two out of 25th.
Dandy Dozen: Arkansas has six student-athletes and relays on the Trackwire Dandy Dozen with its highest person, Stephanie Irwin, ranked fifth in the pole vault. Currently four Lady Razorback individuals and teams are projected to score at the national meet with Jessica Cousins (400); Dacia Barr (1,500) and the 4×400 relay also looked at to pick up points. Just outside the scoring eight include Jodi Unger (pole vault) and the 4×100 relay.
A Dangerous Regional Team: Believe it or not, NCAA Regional Championships have been around for four years and in that time, Arkansas has finished no worse than 10th as a team. The Lady Razorback squad in 2007 could improve upon Arkansas’s all-time best finish (4th) this spring as it has as many qualifiers as it ever has.