More Qualifiers: In another productive weekend, the Lady Razorbacks picked up three NCAA qualifiers, two at the UW Invitational and one from the J.D. Martin. Christine Kalmer’s 3,000-meter run was Arkansas’ first automatic qualifier of the season.
One Group Again: After splitting its forces last weekend, the Lady Razorbacks are back to a singular unit when they travel to the Big Apple to compete in the New Balance Collegiate Invitational.
The New Balance: One of the biggest track meets of the indoor season, the New Balance Collegiate Invitational brings many schools from the east coast as well as some of the heavy hitters from the south, and mid west. A scored meet, the administrators of the New Balance take into account only championship sections and prelim-finals finishers for the team scoring.
Last Year: The Lady Razorbacks had a very good showing at the 2007 New Balance meet, finishing third behind Texas A&M and LSU. Stephanie Irwin picked up her second New Balance victory in the pole vault and Christine Kalmer set the Lady Razorback school record in the 3,000 meters at the event.
New Balance History: Arkansas has been a welcome addition to the New Balance Collegiate Invitational and its history tells why. Over the past three seasons Arkansas has finished second (2005), fifth (2006) and third (2007). The high water mark in terms of points came during the 2007 campaign when Arkansas put up 69.
Kalmer #4: With a splendid run at the UW Invitational last weekend, Christine Kalmer posted the fourth fastest 3,000-meter run in Arkansas history. Her time of 9:13.62 is one of the fastest in the nation and is Arkansas’ first NCAA Automatic qualifier of the season. Kalmer’s time trails her own school record by three seconds.
Chasing Herself: Christine Kalmer was three seconds shy of the Lady Razorback record which she set last season at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational. At the meet last season she clocked 9:10.62, exactly three seconds faster than her UW Invitational time to break the mark of Lilli Kleinmann who ran 9:11.21 in 2000.
Kalmer’s Year: Two races and Christine Kalmer already has her ticket to the NCAA Championships. After missing the first meet of the season returning from her native South Africa, Kalmer joined the Lady Razorbacks at the Razorback Invitational and ran a very competitive mile. After getting her feet wet, Kalmer returned to the track in the 3,000 at the UW Invite and posted a NCAA automatic qualifier.
Upcoming Media Opportunity: There will be a press conference for the Tyson Invitational on Monday afternoon. Details may be obtained by contacting Phil Pierce.
New Balance Schedule: The schedule for the New Balance Collegiate Invitational begins on Friday morning, February 8 at 11:30 a.m. and runs well into the evening with the last scheduled race at 8:30 p.m. Saturday’s competition is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. and should run through 5:00 p.m.
Arkansas’ Participation: The Lady Razorbacks are bringing a healthy contingent to the New Balance that will be heavy on the sprints this weekend. With many of the distance team running long and tough races last weekend, Arkansas’ coaching staff felt that a week off before the Tyson Invitational was the best idea.
Rankings: The week one rankings were released last Wednesday afternoon and the Lady Razorbacks moved up in the polls from ninth in the preseason to fourth. Arkansas earned 86.77 points in the ranking which calculates the probability of individuals’ chances to score points at the NCAA Championships based on current qualifiers.
She’s Back: Making her fourth trip to the New Balance Collegiate Invitational is two-time defending pole vault champion Stephanie Irwin. The Mt. Ida, Ark., native was a bit shell shocked in her first appearance at the Big Apple, but since then has rattled off a pair of victories including last season’s 13-3 1/2.
Only Two-Time Champion: Looking back at previous year’s results we should point out that Stephanie Irwin is the only two time pole vault champion in New Balance Collegiate Invitational History.
Two-Time all-American: Stephanie Irwin parlayed last season’s New Balance Championship into a trip to the NCAA Indoor Championships where she earned her first all-America honor. The moment carried outdoors where she earned her second.
Irwin Gets a Qualifier: After two weeks of misses at 13-2, Stephanie Irwin finally flew over that bar and 13-6 1/4 to get her NCAA qualifier. Irwin’s jump wasn’t a career best, but her attempts at the next bar 13-9 1/4 would have been for the two-time all-American.
Two in the Top Six: The tandem of Stephanie Irwin and Katie Stripling are the best 1-2 punch in the NCAA pole vault field. Stripling is currently ranked fourth in the country with her 13-8 1/4 effort and Irwin is seventh with her 13-6 1/4.
What a Year, in Two Weeks: In just the first two weeks of the season, Katie Stripling already established herself as one of the nation’s best collegiate pole vaulters. She won her second collegiate event, first indoors, at the SEC-Big Ten Challenge and for two weeks held the nation’s best pole vault mark at 13-8 1/4. Stripling’s one loss in two weeks was to aspiring Olympic hopeful and 15-foot vaulter April Steiner.
Top Five: With her clearance of 13-8 1/4, Katie Stripling put herself in elite company, top five among Arkansas pole vaulters. The Lady Razorbacks have a long list of all-American pole vaulters and Stripling’s effort at the Arkansas Invitational puts her among that group.
SEC Field Athlete of the Week: For her at the Arkansas Invitational, Katie Stripling was named the SEC Field Athlete of the Week. The honor is the second of Stripling’s career joining her award from last spring after she won the Penn Relays pole vault competition. Stripling is the eighth Lady Razorback to take an athlete of the week honor indoors and the second pole vaulter (April Steiner two times).
Stripling’s History: A native of Jonesboro, Ark., Katie Stripling came to Arkansas with little experience in the pole vault as she floated between the high jump and vault in high school. Redshirting her freshman season (2006), Stripling had a decent indoor season in 2007 and exploded on the scene outdoors with her first 13-foot jump and the Penn Relays Championship of America.
Where They Rank: If the indoor track season were to end today, Arkansas would be well represented at the NCAA Championships as none of its 10 NCAA qualifying performances rank under 20th and eight are among the nation’s top 12. The performance closest to the top is Christine Kalmer’s automatic run at the UW Invitational which sits second followed by Denise Bargiachi’s 5K (third) and the Lady Razorback 4×400-meter relay and Katie Stripling’s pole vault (fourth).
A Stunning Effort: The Arkansas coaching staff has been singing the praises of senior Etienne Chaplin throughout the fall and the Chicago, Ill., native came through at the Razorback Invitational with a near NCAA automatic qualifier. Chaplin scored 3,986 points to miss the NCAA mark by just 64 points. Along the way she posted career bests in three of the five events and nearly made it four as she was just one inch off her shot put best.
Third Best: We didn’t notice it at the time, but Etienne Chaplin’s pentathlon mark of 3,986 points is the third best effort by a Lady Razorback in school history. She trails only Deedee Brown’s SEC Championship effort of 4,141 from the 2002 season and Beyonka McDowell’s SEC Championship run of 4,076 points from 2005.
The Potential: One would think that with career bests in three of the five events of the pentathlon that the ceiling for Etienne Chaplin may be reached. Not so according to Arkansas’ coaches who see her improving in all five disciplines of the competition. Based on Chaplin’s five career bests at this moment, she has the potential to score 4,024 points.
Year Nine: It’s hard to believe, but the Randal Tyson Track Center begins its ninth year as the home of Arkansas Indoor Track and Field in 2008. The building was dedicated in February of 2000 and since it opened its doors to the public, more than 100,000 people have come to watch track and field at the highest levels.
First Pentathlons: We talked about Etienne Chaplin’s stunning pentathlon opener last weekend but we should also mention the efforts of Peter-Gaye Beckford and Lauren Cox who were competing in their first collegiate multi-event competitions. The tandem scored 3,462 and 3,367 points, respectively, and was at or exceeded their personal bests in each discipline.
A Lady’Back Record: During her first collegiate pentathlon, senior Peter-Gaye Beckford set a Lady Razorback record. Her long jump of 19-10 1/4, exceeded the mark of Deedee Brown set during the 2002 season.
A NCAA Qualifier: Despite being just a week off her first collegiate pentathlon, Peter-Gaye Beckford brought her ‘A’ game to the J.D. Martin Invitational and posted a provisional qualifier in the long jump. Beckford’s effort of 20-1 1/2 is currently the 18th best jump in the nation and just missed Arkansas’ all-time top five.
SEC Cross Country Champions: The Lady Razorbacks won their second consecutive SEC Cross Country Championship in late October with a convincing win at the meet in Lexington, Ky. The title was Arkansas’ 12th SEC cross victory, the most by any school.
18-Time SEC Champions: The Lady Razorbacks are the most successful cross country/track and field team in the Southeastern Conference and their 18 SEC titles are proof. No other school has won as many titles since Arkansas joined the league in the fall of 1991 and only LSU has won more conference championships (19) than Arkansas has and that includes conference meets dating back to the early 80s.
A Stunning Opener: Senior Makeatha Cooper did not compete indoors in 2007 but wasted no time making a name for herself in 2008. The Grand Prairie, Texas, native clocked one of the fastest times in recent Lady Razorback memory in the 60-meter hurdles and notched a solid NCAA provisional qualifier with her 8.30 at the Arkansas Invitational.
Backing it Up: After flying to an opening meet 8.30 at the Arkansas Invite, Makeatha Cooper backed up her performance with an 8.36 at the SEC-Big Ten Challenge. Since that time she has run back-to-back 8.27s giving her the consistency needed to run rounds at major competitions.
SEC Freshman of the Year: For her efforts throughout the cross country season and for her finish at the SEC Championships, Jillian Rosen was named the Southeastern Conference’s Freshman of the Year in Nov. Rosen finished fifth at the SEC Championships and 56th at the NCAA meet (Arkansas’ best finish).
Another Solid Opener: Senior Dacia Barr is a veteran of the NCAA Championships and the two-time all-American wasted no time in getting herself considered for the 2008 Indoor Championships. Barr cruised to a 4:47.73 in the mile at the Razorback Invitational to secure a provisional qualifier and what is now the 20th best mark in the nation. After the race, Barr spoke about being tired because it was her first race, but the mile prodigy is poised to crush her personal best of 4:44.43.
Career Opener: It should be noted that Dacia Barr’s 4:47.73 is a career best opener for the senior.