SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Lady Razorbacks advanced three competitors at the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Wednesday with Jodi Unger and Stephanie Irwin moving on in the pole vault and Jessica Cousins snaring one of the auto qualifiers in the 400-meter dash at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex in Sacramento, Calif.
Unger and Irwin started the day for the Lady Razorbacks and cleared 13-1 ½ in the pole vault to make the event finals. Teammate Katie Stripling nearly cleared the height to join her teammates but barely missed on a pair of attempts. For Irwin, Wednesday’s action seemed all too easy for the Mt. Ida, Ark., native. She flew past all three bars she attempted on her first try and was a lock for the finals. Unger’s journey to the finals was nearly as easy, but a switch in the wind prevented her from clearing 13-1 ½ on her first, but she easily made the vault on her second attempt to move on.
“Coach (Bryan) Compton always has his kids ready for an event like this,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “All three pole vaulters did a tremendous job and watching Jodi and Stephanie just showed what kind of maturity they have. Jessica also did a fantastic job to move to the next round in the 400 meters and as a whole I am pleased with today.”
Cousins left little doubt as to her fate in the 400 when she snared one of the two automatic qualifiers in her heat. Finishing second to Kentucky’s Jenna Martin in the race, Cousins ran 53.66, slow compared to her standards, but good enough to advance. Teammates Tominque Boatright and Sasha Rolle would have to battle each other in the third heat of five with Boatright edging her teammate with a time of 53.62. Awaiting her fate, Boatright was qualified for the finals until the last heat when two runners surpassed her time and knocked her to 17th overall and one spot out of the event finals.
“It was hard to not get Tominque and Sasha through the first round of the 400,” Harter said. “Fortunately for them, they still have a chance to compete in the 4×400-meter relay tomorrow and hopefully on Saturday.”
The Lady Razorback evening ended with the 5,000-meter run where sophomore Christine Kalmer fell victim to a slow heat in her quest to advance to the finals. Running the first 800 meters in nearly three minutes, Kalmer ran at the front of the field but received no help in trying to set the pace. The runners would pick up steam midway through and Kalmer continued to run with the leaders, but she would finish the race in eighth place with a time of 16:31.80. Kalmer’s overall position was 21st overall.
Arkansas’ only other competitor Wednesday afternoon was senior Tiavannia Thompson in the 100-meter hurdles and her day ended almost as quickly as it began. Racing in the final heat of the prelims, Thompson would hit the second hurdle and fall outside her lane. She would not finish her race and therefore not advance to the semifinals.
The NCAA Championships continue late Wednesday night and Thursday with Lady Razorbacks in the 5,000, 1,500, 4×400, javelin, 10,000 and heptathlon. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to LADYBACKS.COM.