Welcome Home: The Lady Razorbacks step on to their home track for the first time during the outdoor season with the John McDonnell Invitational. After four indoor meets, and four consecutive away meets outdoors, the Lady Razorback coaching staff and athletes are happy to be home again.
First of Two: The John McDonnell Invitational is the first of two home track meets scheduled in 2007. Assumed to be the larger of the two meets, Arkansas’ other outdoor meet is a twilight meet on May 4.
John McDonnell History: Few may remember that the John McDonnell Invitational used to be called the Tyson Invitational back in the late 90s, but with the construction of the Randal Tyson Track Center, the Tyson Invitational was moved indoors and the Bank of Fayetteville, who sponsored Arkansas’s indoor track meet, asked that the outdoor meet be called the John McDonnell Invitational.
Regional Meet: Despite the new lavish setting, the John McDonnell Invitational remains a regional meet with teams coming from Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa and Louisiana.
Last Weekend: It was certainly not the best weekend for the Lady Razorbacks on the track last weekend, but not much of a disappointment either. The Mt. SAC contingent picked up a pair of new qualifiers for Arkansas and the Oklahoma squad battled frigid temperatures and came away healthy.
A Second Qualifier: Junior Dacia Barr picked up her second NCAA regional qualifier at the Mt. SAC Relays last weekend when she ran 16:36 in the 5,000-meter run. An off event for the middle distance runner, Barr’s range should keep her in prime shape for the rounds of the SEC, regional and NCAA Championships.
Number Five: When she opened the season with a 1,500-meter run of 4:18, Arkansas’s coaches knew that Dacia Barr ran fast. The question was how fast would the rest of the country run in 2007. As the championship season approaches it is becoming clear just how fast 4:18 is. Barr is currently ranked fifth in the country in the 1,500-meter run according to the national descending order list and number two in the Mideast region.
Projected Eight: Every week Trackwire puts out a list of projected finishes for the men and women at the NCAA Championships and uses that compilation to determine its Trackwire Rankings. This week, Dacia Barr is projected as the eighth-place finisher in the 1,500 meter run.
This Weekend: Dacia Barr is going to run the 800 meters at the John McDonnell Invitational, a race that she is not quite used to. She has run the distance sparingly in college, but was quite used to it in high school which could make Saturday evening very interesting.
Arkansas’s Competitors: The Lady Razorbacks have 29 student-athletes slated to compete this weekend in everything from the 100 meters to javelin. On paper there is a Lady Razorbacks scheduled for nearly every one of the 19 women’s events with the emphasis being on the sprints and middle distances.
Loaded Events: At every meet, you will find one or two events that seem to have more Arkansas athletes than it probably should. The John McDonnell Invitational has a few events like that including the 800, steeplechase, 100 hurdles and pole vault. Of those four events, only the steeplechase has fewer than four competitors and it boasts three.
Weekend Schedule: The John McDonnell Invitational welcomes a high school division for the first time ever this weekend, making this season’s meet a two-day affair. High school field events begin at 4:00 p.m. on Friday with Saturday’s action beginning bright and early at 9:00 a.m.
A Piece of History: With the 2007 John McDonnell Invitational just the second meet held at the newly configured John McDonnell Field, we should point out that the steeplechase is going to be an event to pay attention to. Last spring Tiffany Redlarczyk won the SEC title in the steeple making it the only event in which Arkansas is undefeated at the track. This weekend it will be up to Erin Gray, Dani Parry or Redlarczyk to keep that streak alive.
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.
Number Two: Peter-Gaye Beckford came to the Lady Razorbacks as a sprinter / long jumper and she could throw the javelin a little. Based on her performances this season, she can throw the javelin really well thanks. She is currently ranked second in the mideast region and with a performance like that at the regional championship would be a participant at the NCAA meet.
Qualifiers: Arkansas’ list of NCAA qualifiers continues to grow each week and with another couple of additions to the list at the Mt. SAC Relays Arkansas has 23 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.
Only Four: One of the surprising things about Arkansas’s list of NCAA qualifiers is that there are only four names that appear multiple times. That means that there are 16 different Lady Razorbacks who have posted a qualifying mark. Those that possess multiple qualifiers include Dacia Barr, Peter-Gaye Beckford, Etienne Chaplin and Christine Kalmer.
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.
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.
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.
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.