What a Start: The Lady Razorbacks got the 2007 outdoor season off to a rocketing start when they opened at the Jim Click Shoot-Out in Tucson, Ariz. Arkansas posted 14 NCAA regional qualifiers at the meet, set a school record and posted two additional times that made its all-time top five. Jessica Cousins continued her torrid pace in the 400 meters as she recorded her fifth University record in the 400 meters.
SEC Women Prevail: One of the interesting things about the Jim Click Shoot-Out is that it lets three major track conferences duke it out for supremacy. Arkansas teamed with the South Carolina women to score 245.5 points, easily beating the Pac 10 and Big 12. Of the SEC’s 245.5 points, Arkansas scored more than 140.
Split Squad: There is talk that the Lady Razorbacks will split up this weekend with part of the distance team going to Palo Alto, Calif., for the Stanford Invite and select others staying locally and competing at Missouri Southern University in Joplin, Mo.
Advantages of Splitting: There are lots of advantages to splitting up the team this early in the season, but the main one is level of competition. There is no secret that athletes tend to raise and lower their play based on their competition and by slitting the squad, Arkansas looks to maximize its chances to score. Stanford tends to bring the nation’s best distance runners year after year so Arkansas heads to the west coast to take advantage.
And Another One Bites the Dust: Chalk up another record for Jessica Cousins. With her effort at the Jim Click Shoot-Out, she notched her fifth University of Arkansas school record. She now owns or shares the indoor 400 and 4×4 relay and the outdoor 400, 4×4 relay and sprint medley relay.
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 first two 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.
Schedules: With split squads come confusing schedules. The Stanford contingent competes on Friday and Saturday, March 30-31. The Friday group begins at 12:53 p.m. pacific and finishes at roughly 9:15 p.m. pacific. Saturday’s Stanford group starts at 6:47 and ends at 8:06 pacific. The Missouri Southern crew has a 2:00 p.m. start time and rolls through the day with a late finish.
Arkansas Competitors: The Lady Razorbacks plan to send eight athletes to the Stanford Invitational. That contingent is scheduled for races from the 800 to 10,000 meters and should give people an idea of what to expect from the crew as the year progresses. The Missouri Southern group consists of 11 student-athletes that have their focus set on the sprints and field events.
Coming Up: The Lady Razorbacks get back to full team action next weekend with the Texas Relays in Austin, Texas. That competition should feature the entire Lady Razorback squad in great competition and should be Arkansas’ first real test of the 2007 outdoor season.
A Better Outdoor Team: Lance Harter has said from the beginning of the season that he felt the Lady Razorbacks were a better outdoor team than they are indoors. Considering that they finished fourth at the SEC Indoor Championships that could be a very good thing. Added to the lineup outdoors is the 10,000 meters, javelin, 400 hurdles and steeplechase, all events that could add points to Arkansas’ final score at both the SEC and NCAA meets.
School Record: On Saturday afternoon, Feb. 3, sophomore Christine Kalmer made Arkansas history when she broke the Lady Razorback indoor school record for 3,000 meters at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational. Running 9:10.62, she smashed the seven-year-old mark of five-time all-American Lilli Kleinmann (9:11.81) by more than a second.
Kalmer’s Career: In just her second year, Christine Kalmer has already had a very successful career. As a freshman she was the leader of Arkansas’ cross country team earning first-team all-conference and all-region honors on way to being named the SEC’s Cross Country Freshman of the Year. She continued her rise during the outdoor season when she qualified for the NCAA Championships at the Mideast Regional.
Improving on Last Season: Certainly it is the goal of every athlete to improve upon its previous year and for Christine Kalmer it may be tough, but manageable. Kalmer qualified for the regional championships with a time of 16:41.93 and had the 25th best time entering that race. She responded with a seventh-place finish and was one of the five automatic seeds to the NCAA Championships.
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 were key to her placing and all-America status.
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.
New Balance Champion, Again: For the second straight year, Stephanie Irwin battled and beat her teammate Jodi Unger at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational. The victory was her second in as many years and makes her the first two-time pole vault champion in the competition’s history. She also cleared a season best with the win.
Pole Vaulters Continue to Shine: Arkansas’ pole vaulters didn’t look fabulous or flashy at the Jim Click Shoot-Out, just solid. The tandem of Stephanie Irwin and Jodi Unger did what they needed to do which is qualify for the NCAA regional meet. Unger cleared 12-9 1/2, while Irwin made the regional standard at 12-5 1/2.
Another All-America Honor: Jodi Unger may not have finished where she would have liked at the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships, but she did accomplish one of her goals and that was to earn all-America honors. Her second indoor certificate is one behind April Steiner (3) and her three all-America honors overall also place her one behind Steiner (4).
Always the Bridesmaid, Never the . . .: Well, the analogy doesn’t quite work for Jodi Unger who is already married, but the thought is there. Beginning with the 2006 SEC Indoor Championships, Unger has finished as SEC runner-up three times and at each meet she has continued to push the bar higher. This year it was 13-8 1/4, a career best and she claimed second place on misses for the third straight championship.
14 Feet: That is the mark that Unger has gone after all year. If she can clear 14 feet at any point this season, she could become just the second Lady Razorback to ever make the bar joining the elite company of April Steiner who did it both indoors and outdoors.
Best Ever?: When speaking about the great pole vaulters that have come through the doors of the University of Arkansas you can’t have the discussion without Unger’s name. The Texas native has as many all-America honors (2) as all but one other Lady Razorback (Steiner) and broke the conference outdoor championship record of Steiner’s. Is Unger the best to ever compete Arkansas, probably not yet, but by the end of the 2007 seasons, she could be.
Qualifiers: The Lady Razorbacks posted 14 NCAA regional qualifiers in their first weekend on the track and surprised several with their sheer numbers. Last season, Arkansas posted just 22 NCAA marks which ended up being 17 competitors at the regional championships with each taking on just a single event.
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.