NCAA Regional: The Lady Razorbacks enter the 2005 NCAA Mideast Regional with a large contingent of athletes, 22 to be exact. The group is one of the largest in the three-year history of the event for Arkansas as it looks to improve upon its fourth-place finish from the past two seasons at the event.
Gateway to the Championships: The NCAA regionals are the means by which athletes qualify for the NCAA Championships. This season the NCAA Track Committee changed the qualifying standards by which athletes are selected to the following. The top five athletes that declare from each region are automatically accepted into the NCAA field. The next three declared athletes from each region are placed into a descending order list based on their season best mark and the top five marks are then taken to the NCAA meet.
Last Season at the Regional: The Lady Razorbacks saw several athletes step up and qualify for the NCAA Championships through the regional system including eventual NCAA 200-meter champion LaShaunte’a Moore and hurdler Kasia Williams. While the system worked in some cases, it hurt in others as was the case with sprinter Veronica Campbell who was denied entrance to the NCAA meet because of a technicality. Overall though, Arkansas finished fourth for the second straight season and advanced 15 athletes to the NCAA meet.
2004 NCAA Mideast RegionalBaton Rouge, La. • May 27-28, 2004
Bringing Numbers: If Arkansas does nothing else at the regional, it has accomplished one thing, it sets a record for number of athletes brought to the meet. Last season the Lady Razorbacks brought 18 women to Baton Rouge, La., advancing 15. The 2005 squad has 22 student-athletes entered and how many will move on is yet to be determined.
Arkansas Owns Fourth: At least that’s what happened the past two seasons. The Lady Razorbacks finished fourth in the inaugural NCAA Mideast Regional in Columbus, Ohio, then came in fourth again in 2004 in Baton Rouge. The Lady’Backs tallied 45.5 points in 2004 and 51 in 2005.
Always the Bridesmaid: The Lady Razorbacks finished second at the SEC Championships for the third straight season including cross country and indoor track. Trailing South Carolina during the outdoor campaign, the Lady’Backs scored 124.2 points, 0.2 points more than their total from 2004, a year in which they won the conference crown.
The Schedule: The schedule for the 2005 NCAA Mideast regional is relatively concise beginning at noon on both Friday and Saturday and running just past 8 p.m. Lady Razorbacks will be featured throughout the first day and could also be competing all day on Saturday depending on who advances. Arkansas kicks off competition with the pole vault on Friday afternoon at 3 with the first running event taking place at 4:30 p.m. Saturday’s action starts at 12:05 for the Lady’Backs before the running events first competition at potentially 5:15.
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 are ranked 25th overall with 10 points. Arkansas is currently projected to score points in the 800 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. 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.
|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||N/A||40th, 313.06 points|
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).
Bloomington, Ind.: For the entire Lady Razorback squad, their trip to Bloomington, Ind., is their first to compete in track. For Arkansas’ coaches it is a return to the site of the 1997 NCAA Outdoor Championships in which Arkansas placed tied for 38th with five points. That year former Lady Razorback Amy Yoder Begley returned to her home state to score all the points for Arkansas.
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.
Denton at Regionals: Aneita Denton produced her first breakthrough race one year ago at the NCAA Regional in Baton Rouge, La., when she ran 2:05 to qualify for the NCAA Championships. If she puts together the same effort this spring, she should still go, but the time would probably be a disappointment for the Jamaican native as it would be her slowest race of the season.
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 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 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 12 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 26th fastest time in the world this year behind numerous Olympic Games competitors and finalists. A race that doesn’t favor the young pups, Denton is the third youngest athlete on the IAAF list.
Arkansas at the Regional: The Lady Razorbacks have at least 22 athletes competing at the 2005 NCAA Mideast Regional making this the largest contingent that the Lady Razorbacks have brought to the event in its three years of existence. While Arkansas qualified 28 times or marks, several Lady Razorbacks made decisions after qualifying in multiple events and some marks advance directly to the NCAA Championships. Those that made decisions include Erica Sigmont (800), Maureen Scott (steeplechase) and Shiloh Whiting (steeplechase).
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.
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.
Last Season at the Regional: Coming off a splendid performance at the SEC Championships, Maureen Scott struggled at the Regional meet in the steeplechase when she finished eighth in a time that was more than 20 seconds slower than it was in the conference championship. Despite the finish, Scott still moved on to the NCAA meet based on her conference championship time that placed her among the elite in the nation for the event.
National Qualifiers: As the 2005 outdoor track closes, the Lady Razorbacks earned 31 NCAA automatic, provisional and regional qualifiers. Certainly an impressive list of qualifiers considering that Arkansas has posted marks in 13 of the 21 contested events. The major events that Arkansas is qualified in 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.
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.
Sigmont Chooses the 800: Erica Sigmont won the Southeastern Conference championship in the 1,500-meter run, but chose to run the 800 at the NCAA regional meet after she clocked a time of 2:05 during prelims of the race at the SEC meet. Running what was the second fastest time in the country after her race; Sigmont went back to her roots as she came to Arkansas as an 800-meter runner. With qualifiers in both the 800 and 1,500, Sigmont chose to run the shorter race at regionals and nationals.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last Minute Qualifiers: The Lady Razorbacks thought that they had their roster set for the NCAA Mideast regional prior to the SEC Championships, but following the meet, they were pleasantly surprised to figure out that they were two tickets short. Sophomore Laura Kerr and redshirt freshman Tiffany Redlarczyk earned qualifiers in the steeplechase at the conference championship, the first of each of their careers.
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.
Another Qualifier: Already qualified for regionals in the 100 hurdles and long jump, Beyonka McDowell wanted to be sure that she was going to be able to return to her native Sacramento, Calif., to compete at the NCAA Championships, so she put together another qualifier, this time a NCAA auto mark in the heptathlon, her first of 2005. Scoring 5,518 points, McDowell finished third at the SEC Championships with the effort.
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.
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.
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.