DES MOINES, Iowa – The University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team made it two for two on Friday by winning a second relays crown, this time at the Drake Relays as the 4×200-meter relay of LaKeisha Martin, Tominque Boatright, Sasha Rolle and Jessica Cousins smashed the Lady Razorback school record on their way to an easy victory.
Arkansas’ quartet ran 1:33.23 for the two-lap race and took the overall title by more than a second, defeating the defending champion Louisiana Tech in their heat. The Lady’Backs shattered the five-year-old school record which was coincidentally set at the Drake Relays in 2002 on way to Arkansas’s first Drake Relays Championship. That time of 1:34.90 was set by Shaneatra Neely, Adwoa Gyasi-Nimako, Angel Heath and Kerri-Ann Mitchell.
“I am so proud of this team,” Arkansas associate head coach Rolando Greene said. “I knew that this team could do something special and we came here to win at least one Drake Relays Championship. The way we are running right now it would not surprise me if we run faster tomorrow in the 4×100 and 4×400 relays. We were truly blessed today.”
Getting off to a solid start with Martin out of the blocks, Louisiana Tech seemed to match Arkansas’s every move through the first 300 meters of the race. A solid exchange by the Lady’Backs on the backstretch gave Boatright all the momentum she needed to put a bit of distance between herself and the field.
The race took a major change once Rolle grabbed the baton as she left little to the imagination of the crowd in attendance by blistering the track with a split of 23 seconds and opening up a solid Arkansas lead. Cousins’ anchor was more for time than anything else as she gave the Lady’Backs a 10-meter victory despite a rough handoff for the final leg.
The Lady Razorback 4×400-meter relay also looked strong on Friday by clocking the fourth fastest time in preliminary action at 3:36.98. The time looks even more impressive when one factors in that the Lady’Backs replaced two of their typical ‘A’ team runners for alternates and still ran their second-fastest time of the season. Courtney Brown led off and passed to Rolle who had another great race on Friday to give Arkansas a lead in the competition. Martin ran the third leg and gave the stick to Boatright who anchored the team to an easy victory in their heat. The Lady’Back quartet was more than five seconds ahead of the second-place team at race’s end.
Arkansas’ day began with the 100-meter hurdles, bright and early on Friday morning. With the dew still settled on the field turf infield, Arkansas sent a trio of hurdlers onto the track. The early morning races didn’t yield fast times, but senior Tiavannia Thompson got her job done by winning her heat with a time of 13.71 seconds. Not a season best for Thompson, but her time was the fourth best overall and qualified her for the event finals which take place on Saturday afternoon. Other Lady Razorbacks running in the hurdles included Megan Thompson (14.09) and Etienne Chaplin (14.33) who finished 15th and 20th, respectively.
Rounding out the competition for the Lady Razorbacks was the 4×100-meter relay who notched another fourth-place overall finish in the prelims of the competition. Using a backup relay during the prelims, Arkansas began with Martin who handed off to Rolle, Cousins, and then Boatright. With the new lineup, Arkansas’s handoffs were not as crisp as in previous meets, but the four Lady Razorbacks still clocked the third-best time this season.
The Drake Relays conclude on Saturday with finals in numerous events. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to LADYBACKS.COM.