A Great Start: The Lady Razorbacks got off to a tremendous start at the Arkansas Invitational last Friday evening. While only picking up a single NCAA qualifier in sophomore pole vaulter Stacie manuel, there were seven near misses which makes the Arkansas coaches believe that there is plenty more to come. Those that were close included Jodi Driggers and Danielle O’Rielly in the pole vault, Erica Sigmont in the 800, Kasia Williams and Beyonka McDowell in the 60 hurdles, Paige Farrell in the 400 and Brandy Blackwood in the weight throw.
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 its being young and naive or maybe its a complete lack of appreciate for the level they have acheived, 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.
Up Next: The Lady Razorbacks participate in the Razorback Invitational next at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville. A two-day affair, the schedule calls for many field events and several running events on Friday with the remainder of competition taking place on Saturday. Added to the 2005 event are both men’s and women’s combined events.
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 a all-American again.
Tops in the SEC: Its one thing to open the season with a provisional qualifier after an eight-month hiatus, but to lead the toughest conference in America is something else. Stacie Manuel’s vault of 12-11.5 is four inches above her next closest competitors and teammates Jodi Driggers and Danielle O’Reilly.
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 Razorback Invite Schedule: While scheduled for two long days, the actual events at the Randal Tyson Track Center will not be nearly as action packed as one might think. On Friday afternoon only the combined events will be taking place with other action at the Randal Tyson Track Center not starting until 6:00 p.m. when the men’s 200 takes center stage. Saturday’s action is slated for another early start (12:30) with regular events beginning at 1:00 and running through 4:30.
The Trackwire Rankings: The first trackwire rankings of the season came out last week and there was one thing missing, Arkansas. For the first time in several years the Lady Razorbacks did not make their way onto the inital Trackwire rankings list and remain absent with the publish of week two.
|Week One||Not Ranked|
|Week Two||Not Ranked|
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 make up the team list. For Arkansas, four members of its squad are listed but each is outside the scoring eight of the NCAA Championships. On the list are Aneita Denton in the 800 meters, Erica Sigmont in the mile, Kasia Williams in the 60-meter hurdles and Stacie Manuel in the pole vault.
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.
How Impressive is 54.95: For Paige Farrell, 54.95 is a tremendous opener as it almost met the NCAA provisional standard for 400 meters on a banked track of 54.40. Looking at the larger picture though, Arkansas’ fifth-best mark all time is 54.07 and times in that range are usually invited to participate at the NCAA Championships. If Farrell can focus on her training, there is certainly a chance for her to run in front of a true home-town crowd at the NCAA Championships come March.
The SEC Leader: Arkansas’ coaches probably don’t expect it to last very long but as of week one, Paige Farrell is the conference leader in the 400 meters. Just ahead of teammate Aneita Denton, Farrell’s time is 0.3 seconds ahead of anyone in the conference not from Arkansas.
Arkansas at the Razorback: While many athletes ran in “off” events at the Arkansas Invitational, don’t expect that same type of behavior at the Razorback. The Lady Razorbacks are ready to run and because of that will be running in many of their prime events during the two-day Razorback Invite.
Conference Leaders: It is still early but Arkansas has several performances that are impressive and that lead the Southeastern Conference. Paige Farrell’s 400 meters and Stacie Manuel’s pole vault were both discussed earlier, but what we didn’t mention was Maureen Scott’s mile run. Clocking 4:59.34, she is the only runner in the conference this year under five minutes for the event.
Leading the Way: While she was second to her senior teammate most of the season, junior Maureen Scott decided to take a step toward the big time when she was Arkansas’ top finisher at the NCAA Championships. Finishing 84th overall, Scott was out of the running for an all-American honor but showed the heart and determination that should carry over to a fabulous track season.
Second SEC Finisher: Maureen Scott’s impressive run at the NCAA Championships should also be noted for the fact that she was the second Southeastern Conference runner to cross the line at the national meet. Coming in just behind Tennessee’s Felicia Guliford, Scott was a mere second from being the top SEC runner at the meet.
Scott’s Career: As a freshman, Maureen Scott began hot and stayed that way throughout her first season winning two races as an individual, even earning SEC Athlete of the Week honors. That year she took all-region honors and backed it up as a sophomore with another all-region certificate, but her sophomore year was not nearly as awe-inspiring as her first. Now in her third season, Scott is looking more and more like she did as a freshman and even though she hasn’t won any individual races, she has taken all-conference and all-region honors.
In Track: Maureen Scott has been a key element to Arkansas’ success over the past two seasons in track as well as cross country, but in 2004, the Mahomet, Ill., native made a statement when she won the SEC steeplechase and earned all-America honors in the event. Indoors, Scott has competed in everything from the mile to 5,000 meters and should do the same in 2005 as she attempts to compete in her first NCAA Indoor Championship.
Second of Five: The Razorback Invitational marks the second of five home meets for the Lady Razorbacks this winter. After the one-day, Arkansas Invitational on Jan. 14, Arkansas hosts the Razorback Invitational on Jan. 21-22, then goes to New York for a weekend before hosting the Tyson Invitational, Feb. 11-12. The Southeastern Conference Championships close out February on the 25-27, then the NCAA Championships end the indoor campaign March 11-12.
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.
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.
Williams Coming off Great Summer: Senior Kasia Williams had an excellent spring for the Lady Razorbacks qualifying for the NCAA Championships in the 100-meter hurdles and earning all-America honors in the 4×100-meter relay. Of course that was before the summer where she took her game to even higher heights. After just missing the Jamaican Olympic team in the hurdles, Williams was asked to compete for her native country at the NACAC Championships in Sherbrooke, Ontario, where she finished second overall in a stunning time of 13.27.
Picking Up Where She Left: Kasia WIlliams showed at the Arkansas Invitational that she is ready to run when she nearly qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.45 seconds. Just 0.02 seconds off the provisional mark, Williams opened the 2005 season with times that challenged her season bests from a year ago.
Loads of Freshmen: It could be called a rebuilding year for the Lady Razorbacks based on the number of freshmen that dot the roster. The number of potential true freshmen competitors at the Arkansas Invitational is eight and includes Whitney Anderson, Dacia Barr, Tominque Boatright, Beth Fahey, Paige Farrell, Stephanie Irwin, Danielle O’Reilly and Sydney Scarbrough