The NCAA Championships: The University of Arkansas is once again proud to host the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Randal Tyson Track Center. The 2005 Championships mark the sixth time that the NCAA and the University have partnered to bring the greatest indoor track meet in the world.
Eight Competitors: The Lady Razorbacks bring eight competitors to the 2005 NCAA Championships, with six competing in individual races and two remaining fresh for the distance medley relay. Interestingly it is a mix of young and old as four seniors combine with a sophomore and three freshmen to attempt to make a splash at the Fayetteville, Ark., hosted meet.
First Timers: While Arkansas does have four seniors competing at the NCAA Championships, only three of the Lady Razorback’s eight participants have NCAA Indoor Championships experience. Seniors Kasia Williams and Aneita Denton each competed last season at the meet, while sophomore Stacie Manuel was an all-American as a true freshman in 2003.
Getting Here: Arkansas’ track athletes took many avenues to qualify for the NCAA Championships, but all told, each earned their spot on the eight-person roster. Brandy Blackwood, Aneita Denton and Beyonka McDowell each posted automatic qualifiers in their events while Stacie Manuel, Kasia Williams and the distance medley relay were very high on the provisional lists. Paige Farrell’s 800 meters was a question mark early as she ranked 17th on the national list, but with runners dropping out of the 800, she moved up to 14 and was a go for the meet.
The SEC Championships: The Lady Razorbacks shocked many at the Southeastern Conference Championships when they finished second with 120 points. The sixth-place team in 2004 with two would-be Olympians on the roster, Arkansas brought a very young squad to the 2005 meet with the intent on shocking the track world and just about did. Three Lady Razorbacks won conference titles, but a majority of Arkansas’ points came from a young team that will only get better.
Last Year at the NCAA Championships: The 2004 NCAA Championships held in Fayetteville, Ark., was nothing more than the Veronica Campbell show for the Lady Razorbacks as she tallied 16.75 of Arkansas’ 19 points. Perhaps the single-greatest NCAA individual performance in Lady Razorback history, Campbell won the 200-meter dash, breaking the collegiate record in the process, finished third in the 60-meter dash and assisted the 4×400 relay to a sixth-place finish.
2004 NCAA Championship ResultsMar. 12-13 • Randal Tyson Track Center • Fayetteville, Ark.
NCAA Schedule: The addition of the combined events last year changed the NCAA Schedule so that it begins at 9:00 a.m. on Friday and 11:00 a.m. on Saturday. Running throughout both days, the last scheduled events are 9:30 and 8:20 p.m., respectively.
Arkansas’ Schedule: The Lady Razorback will be well represented on both days of the NCAA Championships. Friday will see the 800-meter prelims, 60-hurdle prelims and finals and the distance medley relay final while Saturday showcases the pentathlon, weight throw, pole vault and 800-meter finals.
The Trackwire Rankings: The first Trackwire rankings of the season came out and there was one thing missing, Arkansas. For the first time in several years the Lady Razorbacks did not make their way onto the initial Trackwire rankings list. Week six saw Arkansas make its Trackwire debut with a18th-place showing and 11 points projected. The latest ranking has Arkansas at 15th with 16 points.
Trackshark.com: Another set of rankings that has picked up steam over the past couple of years is the Trackshark.com rankings. While not updated as regularly as the Trackwire rankings, Trackshark.com calculates numerous factors and reminds many of the BCS in football with its list of numbers and decimal points. However, in stark contrast to its absence in the Trackwire rankings, Arkansas ranks fourth in the nation in the Trackshark.com list.
|Week One||Not Ranked||N/A||N/A|
|Week Two||Not Ranked||N/A||N/A|
|Week Three||Not Ranked||5th, 54.73||N/A|
|Week Four||Not Ranked||N/A||N/A|
|Week Five||Not Ranked||N/A||5th, 282.69|
|Week Six||T18th, 11||4th, 56.00||5th, 288.91|
|Week Seven||T21st, 10||N/A||6th, 288.91|
|Week Eight||15th, 16||N/A||3rd, 309.35|
|Week Nine||N/A||N/A||4th, 332.22|
The Power Rankings: Not only are the Lady Razorbacks looked upon favorably by Trackshark.com, but also by the power rankings administered by the US Track Coaches Association. In those rankings, which take the top two performers in each event for a particular team, Arkansas ranks fourth in the nation behind Nebraska, Penn State and Pittsburgh. Big scorers in the rankings for the Lady Razorbacks include the distance medley relay, Brandy Blackwood in the weight throw, Stacie Manuel in the pole vault, Aneita Denton in the 800 meters and Erica Sigmont in the mile.
What a Race: Aneita Denton participated in what might be considered the greatest collegiate women’s 800-meter race in history at the SEC Championships when she went toe-to-toe with Tennessee’s Nicole Cook. The duo battled throughout the four-lap race with Denton running what is believed to be the third best collegiate time ever at 2:01.96. Unfortunately for Denton, Cook set the collegiate record at 2:00.75.
Denton-Cook, II: The SEC showdown was magical. Two of the top three collegiate times ever, now the pair face off again at the NCAA Championships on the same track that produced the first epic clash. Look for another collegiate record as the pair gets after it once again.
Jamaican National Record: We thought it stood, but thanks to some research we stand corrected. Aneita Denton’s 800-meter time of 2:01.96 at the SEC Championships was reported as the Jamaican National Indoor Record, but another Jamaican, Kenia Sinclair in fact broke the record on February 6 with a time of 2:01.95.
17th in the World: Aneita Denton’s 800-meter time makes her the 17th fastest female 800-meter runner in the world this year.
The UA Record: Aneita Denton’s time of 2:03.91 in the 800 meters broke the oldest Arkansas indoor school record. The mark had been held by former Lady’Back and 2004 Olympian Nicole Teter when she ran 2:04.58 during the 1992 season in Indianapolis, Ind.
Top Two: Aneita Denton now holds the top two marks in Lady Razorback history in the 800-meter run as she broke her own school record at the SEC Championships. Denton and former Lady’Back Nicole Teter now hold each of the top five UA indoor marks.
Back Up to Speed: Aneita Denton’s Lady Razorback career began with a stumble as she spent the first couple weeks of the 2004 indoor season in the hospital, but since that time she has been improving steadily and with a full year of training under her belt the improvements are quite evident. Denton has been counted on to run the anchor leg of Arkansas’ 4×400-meter relay and has already provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 800 meters.
National Qualifiers: The Lady Razorbacks ended the 2005 indoor track season with a modest set of NCAA qualifiers in three automatic berths and 13 provisional marks. Of those 16 total marks and times, seven earned a spot at the NCAA Championships from a bevy of events including the 800, 60 hurdles, pole vault, weight throw, distance medley relay and pentathlon.
Scoring Opportunities: While it isn’t an exact science or even a true indicator of what may happen, it is interesting to note that Arkansas’ seven scoring opportunities at the 2005 NCAA Indoor Championships is tied for sixth among all schools. South Carolina and Stanford lead the way with 13 followed closely by Maimi’s 12. Tennessee is next with 11 chances with LSU the only other school in double digits with 10.
Number Two: Tominque Boatright came to Arkansas as a 100-200-meter sprinter but could see long term potential in the 400 meters. Running just her second open 400 meters, Boatright clocked a time of 53.60 which stands as the second fastest in UA history. A true freshman, Boatright’s time was just 0.12 seconds off the school record of 53.48 set by former Lady’Back Adwoa Gyasi-Nimako in 2002.
A Valuable Relay Leg: Tominque Boatright has been used extensively on the Lady Razorback’s relay teams, both the 4×400 and distance medley. In the DMR, Boatright was a major part of Arkansas’ school record time of 11:09.09 as she tackled the 400-meter leg of the race. As a part of Arkansas’ 4×400 relay, Boatright has run mainly the second leg, but did anchor one time.
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.
Now One, Two, Three and Five: As is the case with any event, the good ones always seem to implant themselves among the top five in Arkansas history and Brandy Blackwood is no exception. The Miami, Fla., native now holds the first, second, third and fifth best weight throws in Arkansas history with the NCAA Championships to go. When all is said and done, she could move former record holder Marie LeJour from the top five positions to fifth only.
Fourth at Conference: Coming into the SEC Championships, Brandy Blackwood held the fourth farthest throw in the conference and that is where she ended up at the end of the meet. Breaking her school record for the third consecutive week, Blackwood tossed the weight 67 feet, 4.25 inches to secure her spot at the NCAA meet with an automatic qualifier and score five points for the Lady Razorbacks.
Looking Good: One of the most impressive performances at the Razorback Invitational was that of Brandy Blackwood in the weight throw as she uncorked a then career best toss of 64 feet, one-half inch. The throw was a personal best by almost four feet as Blackwood continues to improve in the event.
Fourth and 13th: With the Arkansas school record, one would think that Brandy Blackwood would be among the best in the nation at the event and she is, but perhaps not as high as some would think. Blackwood’s toss of 67-4.25 ranks fourth among Southeastern Conference throwers and 13th against the whole country.
Conference Leaders: Even after the conference championships, the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks are looking strong among the rest of the league. In fact, three Lady Razorback times or marks lead the conference lists. Those marks include Alison Rush in the 5,000 meters, the distance medley relay and Stacie Manuel in the pole vault.
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.
Second at SECs: Kasia Williams looked very good at the SEC Championships as she lowered her personal best in the 60-meter hurdles to 8.20 seconds. Finishing second overall, Williams assured herself a spot at the NCAA meet with the performance.
Second, Fourth and Fifth Fastest: She was fifth and after outstanding runs at the SEC Championships and Iowa State Qualifier, Kasia Williams is now second, fourth and fifth on Arkansas’ all-time list in the 60-meter hurdles. Knocking herself off the charts, Williams has cracked the stranglehold that former Lady’Back Kyla Shoemake had on the top three spots. Williams time of 8.20 seconds is just four hundredths of a second slower than Shoemake’s UA record.
Fourth Time With a Pole: The 2003 SEC Indoor Freshman of the Year, Stacie Manuel was on the fast track to the top when she won the SEC indoor pole vault title that same season. She also looked impressive that spring but a series of injuries have kept the all-America on the sidelines. After taking eight months off from jumping Manuel picked up her polls for the first time after Jan. 1 and was using them for just the fourth time when she provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championships.
Good But Not Impressive: If Stacie Manuel had it her way, she would be back to flirting with 14 feet in the pole vault, but following a series of injuries that just allowed her to return to action Manuel cleared just 12-11.5. While the mark is good, it is not nearly the impression that Manuel wishes to make on her road to becoming an all-American again.
Getting Better: While it took her three competitions, Stacie Manuel finally cleared 13 feet once more when she vaulted 13-3.75 at the New Balance Collegiate Invite. The only competitor to make 12-11.5, Manuel moved the bar immediately to 13-3.75, then after that had two very good attempts at 13-5.
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.
Already an All-American: Stacie Manuel earned all-America honors in her first indoor season with the Lady Razorbacks and because of injury has not returned to that plateau. Determined and ready, Manuel is shooting for not just an all-America honor but a significant placing at the NCAA Championships in 2005.
The Distance Medley Relay: Arkansas was seeking a qualifier for the NCAA Championships with a team of two seniors and two freshmen, what they got was a school record and a near automatic qualifier, missing the mark by 0.09 seconds. With Aneita Denton running her first 1,200-meter race, freshmen Tominque Boatright and Paige Farrell running the middle two legs and seasoned veteran Erica Sigmont anchoring the team, Arkansas posted a fabulous mark.
The Legs: On Arkansas’ record-setting distance medley relay, the Lady’Backs were hoping to get splits of 3:24, 55, 2:10 and 4:48. Instead, Aneita Denton led off with a time of 3:22. Tominque Boatright came back with a split of 54 in the 400 followed by Paige Farrell’s 2:07 in the 800. Erica Sigmont anchored the relay with a time of 4:44 to complete the record.
Arkansas’ Relay: The Lady Razorbacks’ distance medley relay stacks up well against the nation as it ranks sixth in the country heading into a big weekend of competition. Tops in the SEC, the Lady Razorbacks should be among the national leaders for the rest of the season.
A Relay Change: Due to an injury to senior Erica Sigmont sustained over the course of time, she will not participate at the NCAA Championships in the distance medley relay. Instead, Arkansas hands the baton to another freshman in Dacia Barr. Barr has a personal best of 4:56 for the mile and should be a capable replacement for the four-time all-American.
Quietly Impressive: Slightly under the radar this season have been the performances of senior Beyonka McDowell. Two weeks into the season and McDowell had already either tied or broken her marks from the 2004 indoor season.
Not So Quiet Anymore: Thanks to one of the best pentathlons in UA history, Beyonka McDowell has announced herself on the national stage as someone to watch at the NCAA Championships. Scoring 4,076 points on way to her SEC Championship, McDowell is ranked fifth in the nation heading into the national meet and has the potential to score more.
SEC Champion: Beyonka McDowell knew that she had the potential and at the SEC Championships she showed it as she claimed her first conference crown in the pentathlon. Hitting on all cylinders, McDowell set personal bests in four of the five events and pentathlon best in all five as she blistered the SEC field.
Two UA Records: At the SEC Championships Beyonka McDowell’s pentathlon was somewhat magical as she set two Lady Razorback records for a pentathlon. Eclipsing her own 60-meter hurdles mark when she ran 8.42 seconds, McDowell also broke the shot put record with a toss of 45 feet, eight inches.
Second Over 4,000: Beyonka McDowell became the second woman in UA history to eclipse the 4,000-point mark when she scored 4,076 at the SEC Championships. Picking up more than 1,000 in the 60-meter hurdles, McDowell hit the ground running as she chased DeeDee Brown’s school record in the pentathlon of 4,141 which Brown set on way to her own SEC Championship in the event.
Returning all-Americans: Arkansas returns four all-Americans to the roster in 2005 led by four-time honoree Erica Sigmont. She is joined by 2004 winners Aneita Denton, Maureen Scott and Kasia Williams. Sigmont has taken indoor honors in the mile and distance medley relay (two times) while Denton earned her honor in the 4×400-meter relay last winter. Scott and Williams each earned their honor outdoors in the steeplechase and 400-meter relay, respectively.
The Dandy Dozen: While some believe that Trackwire just makes up its rankings, we can say that there is a method to the list. Every event is ranked with what Trackwire believes are the top 12 competitors in the nation and those final rankings making up the team list. For Arkansas, five members or relays are listed. On the list are Aneita Denton in the 800 meters, Erica Sigmont in the mile, Kasia Williams in the 60-meter hurdles and Brandy Blackwood in the weight throw. The Lady Razorback distance medley relay is also on the list at sixth. Their total according to Trackwire at week seven accounts to 10 points.
The SEC Outdoor Champions: After a sixth-place finish indoors, the Lady Razorbacks shocked the rest of the SEC when they won the outdoor conference title in convincing fashion. While winning the last track title seems to be an advantage heading into the indoor season, it certainly isn’t when you look at the number of quality athletes that are no longer with the team.
Freshmen Shine at Arkansas: Who said anything about first-meet jitters. If anyone said it around the Lady Razorback freshmen, they weren’t listening. Perhaps it’s being young and naive or maybe it’s a complete lack of appreciate for the level they have achieved, but Arkansas’ freshmen looked like seasoned veterans at the Arkansas Invitational. The best of the 13 newcomers last weekend had to have been Paige Farrell and Danielle O’Reilly who each nearly made the NCAA provisional standard.
Welcome to Arkansas Paige: Freshman and Springdale, Ark., native Paige Farrell looked very impressive in her season and career opener at the Arkansas Invitational when she finished first in the 400 meters. Running a career best 54.95, Farrell looked impressive in her race not taking the lead until the second lap, then holding on for the win. Looking more like a seasoned veteran, Farrell had perhaps the best sound bite of the meet following the race when she said that while she did have butterflies before she got started, but one she set foot on the track, running is running.
First 800: Paige Farrell competed in her first collegiate 800-meter run as a part of one of the Lady Razorbacks two distance medley relays and was very impressive as she split either 2:09 or 2:10 depending on who’s watch you went by. Farrell had not run an 800 meters for several years making the feat even more impressive.
Sticking with the 800: Despite being a novice at the race, Arkansas’ coaches may keep Paige Farrell at the 800 meters if she continues to improve. A career best 2:17 heading into her freshman season, Farrell ran 2:10 in her first 800 meters, then split 2:07 at the New Balance Collegiate Invite.
Fifth at SECs: Despite only running the 800 meters consistently for the first time this season, Paige Farrell has been outstanding in the event. Her competitiveness led her to a fifth-place finish at the SEC Championships and a place at the NCAA meet.
First Freshman Since: Paige Farrell’s acceptance to the SEC Championships makes her the first true freshman since Stacie Manuel to qualify in an individual event. Manuel qualified in the pole vault in 2003 and parlayed that experience into all-America honors.
Third Place: The New Balance Collegiate Invitational was a scored meet for the Lady Razorbacks and despite not running all of its runners in their primary events they still managed to finish third in the competition behind second-ranked LSU and seventh-ranked South Carolina but ahead of the likes of third-ranked Stanford.