Another Solid Weekend: The Lady Razorbacks put together another solid weekend of competition at the John McDonnell Invitational, improving on four and adding their 25th NCAA qualifier. Erica Sigmont was the newbie when she picked up an 800-meter qualifier while Stacie Manuel and Danielle O’Reilly improved in the pole vault, Paige Farrell in the 800 and Brandy Blackwood in the hammer.
Splitting Squads: In their final effort to qualify for the NCAA Championships, the Lady Razorbacks are splitting their squads three ways this weekend. About half the team goes to Philadelphia, Pa., to participate in the Penn Relays while the other half goes to Des Moines, Iowa for the Drake Relays. Senior Laura Jakosky is the lone competitor heading to Palo Alto, Calif., for the Cardinal Invitational.
The Penn Crew: Arkansas’ Penn Relays contingent consists mainly of distance runners and field event personnel. The Lady Razorbacks plan to compete in the distance carnival on Thursday night, then tackle the field events on Friday with the distance medley relay. The Penn Relays crew should be done with competition by Friday evening.
The Drake Squad: Those heading to the Drake Relays include Arkansas’ sprinters and select distance and field event competitors. One of the highlights of the Drake Relays will be the 4×800 relay consisting of Dacia Barr, Aneita Denton, Paige Farrell and Erica Sigmont.
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.
Blackwood Qualifies: After earning all-America honors for the first time at the NCAA indoor meet in the weight throw, Brandy Blackwood continued to impress in what has been an unbelievable season in 2005. Blackwood posted her first qualifier in the hammer throw with a strong toss of 183 feet, nine inches, well beyond the regional qualifier that sits at 177-8.
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.
The Schedules: The Lady Razorbacks have their work cut out for them in each of their respective venues if they wish to keep up with what the others are doing. The Penn Relays contingent begins on Thursday morning at 10 a.m. with the collegiate high jump and goes throughout the day and night. They begin again on Friday at 1:20 p.m. and finish around 3:30 p.m. Drake’s lineup consists of action on Friday and Saturday with the steeplechase leading things off at 12:40 p.m. on the 29th. Arkansas will also compete in a pair of relays on Friday before moving on to the 4×800 at 1:50 p.m. Saturday and hurdles finals shortly after.
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 this week and to 23rd overall. Arkansas is projected to score points in the 800 and 100 hurdles at the NCAA Championships this spring.
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. As Arkansas begins to fill in the holes of its rankings sheet, it moves back up the charts from 43rd a week ago to 40th this week.
|Week One||T15th, 14 points||N/A||N/A|
|Week Two||T17th, 14 points||N/A||35th, 235.74 points|
|Week Three||21st, 12 points||N/A||43rd, 254.76 points|
|Week Four||23rd, 11 points||N/A||40th, 283.58 points|
Last Year at Penn: Stacie Manuel was the star of the 2004 Penn Relays when she took top honors in the championship section of the pole vault with a career best of 13-9.5. She wasn’t the only one to perform well as Arkansas’ 4×800-meter relay shattered the school record and Maureen Scott and Shiloh Whiting both set personal bests in the steeplechase.
Seven Individual Champions: According to the Penn Relays record books their have been seven Lady Razorbacks who have claimed top honors at the Carnival. Beginning in 1989 with Sally Ramsdale’s 5,000 meters, Lady Razorbacks have taken titles in the 3,000, 5,000, 10,000 and pole vault over the years. Following Ramsdale came Deena Drossin (1993, 5K), Tracy Robertson (1998, 3K), Amy Yoder Begley (1999, 3K), Yoder Begley again (2001, 10K), April Steiner (2003, PV) and Stacie Manuel (2004, PV).
Two Relays Champions: Arkansas has taken just a pair of Penn Relays Wagon Wheels over the years in back-to-back seasons of 2000 and 2001 when they won the distance medley relay and 4×1500, respectively. Arkansas’ DMR time of 10:55.00 is a school record and 7th on the all-time Penn Relays record books.
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 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 what is potentially 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.
Just off the National Record: Aneita Denton’s time from the SEC Championships of 2:01.96 could of 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 had not run an 800 since the outdoor season began, but got the first one under her belt with a bang when she took the collegiate lead in the event at 2:03.94. Her time is two seconds faster than Cal’s Chloe Jarvis’ mark of 2:05.61. 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.
Number Three 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 turns 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. Coincidentally, Sinclair is also the individual who prevented Denton from claiming the Jamaican Indoor National record.
Defending Outdoor Champions: The Lady Razorbacks entered the 2005 outdoor season with a target on their back as they are the defending SEC Champions. Taking the outdoor title in stunning fashion, the Lady Razorbacks hit on all cylinders to take the championship, an accomplishment that they will have to have happen again should they have a desire to repeat.
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 third 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.
Back to Her Winning Ways: Sophomore pole vaulter Stacie Manuel was once again back to her winning ways when she took the Ole Miss Invitational pole vault title with a modest jump of 12 feet, 11.5 inches. Competing for the first time since she took all-America honors in the event at the NCAA Indoor Championships, Manuel looked solid as she navigated the tough winds of the Oxford, Miss., track.
Two-Time Champion: As a freshman, Stacie Manuel shocked the conference by taking the SEC indoor pole vault title with a clearance of 13 feet, eight inches. The title earned her the conference’s indoor track freshman of the year honor. Manuel was sidelined in 2004 to injury but returned in 2005 to take the SEC title once again and is the first women’s pole vaulter to take two indoor titles. Manuel also became just the third woman in conference history to win two pole vault titles including outdoors.
Defending Penn Relays Champion: Last season the Penn Relays marked Stacie Manuel’s last competition of the outdoor season, but she did it in grand fashion when she cleared 13-9.5 to take the Penn Relays title. She followed in the footsteps of April Steiner who took the championship in the spring of 2003 giving the Lady Razorbacks back-to-back championships in the event.
Returning to Form: Both Stacie Manuel and Danielle O’Reilly battled the wind and cold at the John McDonnell Invitational to clear 13-1.5 and improve their NCAA regional qualifiers. For Manuel it is a long way from the 14 foot mark she hit indoors at this time, but for O’Reilly it is a potential sign of things to come as she made the 13 foot barrier for just the first time this season.
Only the Fourth: Danielle O’Reilly’s vault of 13-1.5 makes her just the fourth Lady Razorback to ever clear 13 feet indoors or out in Arkansas history. Following in the footsteps of April Steiner, Jennifer Lincoln and Stacie Manuel, O’Reilly is now in elite company and can work to knock off her current teammate Stacie Manuel for bragging rights in the pit.
Four Vaulters Qualified: Following strong performances by the Lady Razorbacks at the Texas Relays, they now have four pole vaulters qualified for the NCAA Regional meet. At Texas Stacie Manuel, Jodi Driggers and Danielle O’Reilly each cleared 12-11.5 to make the standard and guarantee their spot in Bloomington in May. Manuel and O’Reilly took it a step further at the John McDonnell Invite when each cleared 13-1.5 to improve their national standing.
National Qualifiers: As the 2005 outdoor track season begins to close, the Lady Razorbacks have 25 NCAA automatic, provisional and regional qualifiers. Certainly an impressive list of qualifiers considering that Arkansas has posted marks in 11 of the 21 contested events and could potentially pick up another one or two once freshman Tominque Boatright returns to full action. The major events that Arkansas is qualified in at this point are the 5,000, 10,000 and pole vault competitions with four in each. Other significant events include the 800, 1,500, steeplechase and 100 hurdles.
Martin Posts a Qualifier: While Arkansas did win two Texas Relays titles, one of the most significant performances came from sophomore high jumper Michelle Martin, who qualified for the NCAA Regional meet with a high jump of 5 feet, 8.75 inches. A career best for Martin, she cleared 5-8 last spring but was unable to meet the regional qualifier.
Big Shoes to Fill: Michelle Martin follows in the footsteps of former Lady Razorback Jessica Johnson who qualified for the NCAA Championships last season in the high jump. While Martin has yet to make it to the big dance, she is on her way as her predecessor only made it as a junior and senior and Martin is just a sophomore.
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: Perhaps its the 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.” 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.
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.
Also Qualified in the Hurdles: When we said that Beyonka McDowell had a weekend we meant it. Not only did she record a huge jump in the long jump pit, but she also recorded the two fastest 100-meter hurdles times of her Arkansas career when she ran 13.65 during preliminary action, then improving to 13.64 during finals. The efforts qualified McDowell for the NCAA regional championship in the event.
Seniors Look to Go Out on a High Note: The Lady Razorback senior class has been a huge part of Arkansas’ history and success over the past four years and with their final competitive seasons in mid form, they are doing their best to perform at the highest levels. Evidence of that came at the Mt. SAC Relays as each stepped up in their respective events to post NCAA qualifiers and you only have to look as far back as the indoor season to see their scoring potential at the SEC Indoor Championships. With just two months left in their Lady Razorback careers, expect each to perform at a higher level.
Sigmont Runs a Qualifier: After a good finish to the indoor season, Erica Sigmont had taken her first SEC title in the mile when she was forced to sit down, preventing her from competing at the NCAA Championships. A return to action at the Mt. SAC Relays saw the Australian native run 4:23.04 to post the 21st fastest time in the NCAA this season.
Top Region Mark: Erica Sigmont was a regional finalist a year ago in the 1,500-meter run despite breaking her foot in the process. The injury prevented Sigmont from running at the NCAA Championships or from finishing the final of the regional, but her 2005 time of 4:23.04 currently ranks fourth in the mideast region.
Pair of 1,500-meter Runners: For the Lady Razorbacks it’s a combination of old and new as Erica Sigmont, the senior, is joined by freshman Dacia Barr as a formidable 1-2 punch in the 1,500-meter run. Both are among the top 30 in the nation in the event and rank 1-5 in the mideast region.
A Tremendous Homecoming: For Lady Razorback freshman Dacia Barr, the Texas Relays was a homecoming for the Austin, Texas, native. One of the outstanding products of Lake Travis High School, Barr returned to Mike A. Myers Stadium and in front of friends and family helped the Lady Razorbacks win not just one but two Texas Relays titles in the 4×800 meters and distance medley relays.
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.
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.
The Trackwire Dandy Dozen: The Trackwire Dandy Dozen is the formula by which Trackwire sets up its rankings and currently four Lady Razorbacks dot the list. Aneita Denton leads the way ranked first in the 800-meter run while Kasia Williams sits at eighth in the 100-meter hurdles. Alison Rush is ninth in the 10,000 meters and Stacie Manuel is 11th in the pole vault.
Farrell Back in the Swing: Freshman Paige Farrell earned all-America honors indoors in the 800-meter run thanks to a tremendous work ethic. Outdoors she started a little slow but is coming on strong as she posted an improved mark of 2:08.40 at the John McDonnell Invitational. The time puts her 37th in the nation and 10th in the Mideast region. If Farrell can equal her season best from the indoor campaign of 2:07.06, she’ll move up to 17th in the nation and sixth in the region.
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.
Second at SEC Indoors: Perhaps even more impressive than Arkansas’ 19th-place national finish was its second-place finish at the SEC Championships. Giving the eventual NCAA Champion Tennessee Lady Volunteers everything they could handle, Arkansas tallied 120 points with a very young squad.
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.