Indoor Opener: The Lady Razorbacks open the 2006 Indoor Track season this weekend when they host the Razorback Quad at the Randal Tyson Track Center. For many of the Lady Razorbacks, the meet will mark the first time they don an Arkansas uniform while several others make their track debuts. The 2006 version of Arkansas’ opening day meet features a larger field than in years past which should make for good competition in every event.
New Faces: The Lady Razorbacks are adorned with new faces in nearly every event and many will be on display Friday night. Of Arkansas’ 40-person roster (37 of which will compete indoors), 18 are either freshmen, redshirt freshmen or transfers, while another 12 are merely sophomores. The Arkansas newcomers should make for an interesting first couple of weeks and make the Lady Razorbacks somewhat unpredictable throughout the course of the season.
The Old Guard: There aren’t many, but there still are the proven few that have been with the Lady Razorbacks for three and four years. Included in the mix are the likes of Jessie Gordon, Laura Kerr, Michelle Martin, Maureen Scott and Jodi Unger who have each earned junior or higher status while being with the Lady’Backs since their freshman years.
Last Year at the Opening Meet: The Lady Razorbacks opened the 2005 season with a strong start qualifying one and picking up seven near qualifiers at the Arkansas Invitational. Because of the nature of the season opener, not every Lady Razorback competed at the meet and several ran off events, but despite the changes, Arkansas still looked impressive.
First of Four: The Razorback Quad is the first of four home meets for the Lady Razorbacks this winter. Beginning with the Quad, the Lady’Backs are home again next weekend with the Razorback Invite before the Tyson Invitational in mid February followed by the NCAA Championships in March.
19th During Cross Country: The Lady Razorbacks used three seniors and four freshmen to finish 19th at the 2005 NCAA Cross Country Championships in November. Led by freshmen Christine Kalmer during the fall, Arkansas was able to secure a 104-24-0 overall record. The Lady’Backs finished second at the SEC Championships and won the South Central Regional.
Who to Watch During Indoors: If the 2005 track seasons and the fall have anything to say about what may or may not happen during the 2006 indoor and outdoor campaigns, and then there will be several Lady Razorbacks to watch this year. Some of the potential superstars on the rise include freshman Christine Kalmer, sophomore Stephanie Irwin, senior Maureen Scott and sophomore Paige Farrell. Those that flew under the radar in 2005 and are poised for breakout seasons include sophomores Dacia Barr and Tominque Boatright, senior Jessie Gordon, sophomore Danielle O’Reilly and junior Jodi Unger. Newcomers to the team that should contribute throughout the season are Denise Bargiachi, Jessica Cousins, Sasha Rolle and Kelly Vrshek.
Always the Bridesmaid: At least it seemed that way in 2004-05 as Arkansas finished second to their SEC competitors in each of the three conference championships. The trend seemed to continue this fall as Tennessee barely edged the Lady Razorbacks in cross country for the third consecutive season.
The Schedule: The schedule for the Razorback Quad calls for a noon start with the men’s shot put with running events getting called to the line at 3 p.m. Finals begin at 5:10 with the women’s distance medley relay and should pick up the action with events going on consistently. Of course with the additional teams preparing to come to the meet, the schedule could change slightly in order to prevent falling behind.
The Weekly Rankings: None of the weekly track and field rankings have been release as of this point, but the first trackwire ranking is scheduled for next week. The Lady Razorbacks may not open the season among the nation’s elite programs because of their youth, but expect to see Arkansas among the top 25 at some point during the season.
Arkansas’ Freshman Leader: Christine Kalmer was Arkansas’ top finisher at the SEC Cross Country Championships when she crossed the finish line in fifth place overall. She was the highest finishing freshman and ran a career best for 6,000 meters with her time of 19:59.56. She has been Arkansas’ top runner in four of six races this season and has put up some very impressive times along the way.
Only the Fourth: Christine Kalmer’s SEC Championship time of 19:59.56 makes her just the fourth Lady Razorback in school history to break the 20-minute marker for 6,000 meters. Only former Lady’Backs Andreina Byrd and Christin Wurth and current teammate Penny Splichal had achieved the task before.
All-SEC: By virtue of her fifth-place finish at the SEC meet, Christine Kalmer earned her first first-team all-SEC honor. She now has a chance to become one of an elite group of runners to claim four such honors in her career.
SEC Athlete of the Week: Thanks to her 10th-place finish at the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival, true freshman Christine Kalmer was named the SEC Athlete of the Week. The honor is the first of Kalmer’s career and the first for a Lady Razorback in 2005.
Sub 21: Freshman Christine Kalmer completed the 6,000-meter Agri Park Cross Country course in 20:56.3, despite it being her first collegiate 6K race. She improved on that race with her 19:59.56 at the SEC Championships making Kalmer the fourth fastest Lady Razorback in Arkansas history.
Three Straight Sub 18s: Freshman Christine Kalmer is the only Lady Razorback to post three times under 18 minutes this season. Kalmer has been Arkansas’ number one runner twice and the number three runner once. Despite the placing, she has posted times of 17:10, 17:59 and 17:47.
First Since: Christine Kalmer’s victory at the Missouri Southern Dual makes her the first Lady Razorback since 2001 to win an event in her first collegiate competition. The last Lady Razorback to accomplish the task was current senior Penny Splichal who won the Fayetteville Invitational.
Returning All-Americans: The Lady Razorbacks return five all-Americans to the roster in 2006, but only four get the opportunity to compete indoors. Paige Farrell, Tominque Boatright, Dacia Barr and Maureen Scott are the Lady’Backs’ indoor competitors while Brandy Blackwood exhausted her indoor eligibility in 2005, but still has an outdoor season left.
Boatright Healthy and Ready: Tominque Boatright had a tremendous indoor season in 2005, then at the NCAA Championships was injured in her leg of the distance medley relay and never fully recovered during the outdoor season. Now with some time off, Boatright is once again healthy and could challenge Arkansas’ 400-meter record which she came close to breaking last season.