FAYETTEVILLE – Junior Jodi Unger was the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team’s lone qualifier at the Arkansas Invitational at the Randal Tyson Track Center on Friday evening when she matched her career best in the pole vault at 12-11 ½.
Unger’s clearance came on her last attempt at the height, placing her fifth overall, but tied in height with former NCAA Champion and NCAA record holder Amy Linnen who competed unattached.
“For Jodi to open up with that kind of mark is very encouraging,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “The height that she went out at is one that is almost a guarantee to go to the national championship and for her to be there at this time of the year is good news.”
Unger was the top finisher among three Lady Razorback vaulter with sophomores Stephanie Irwin and Danielle O’Reilly finishing sixth and seventh, respectively, with jumps of 12-5 ½.
In the mile, Arkansas placed five runners in the field and saw senior Penny Splichal run away with the meet title. Barely missing the NCAA provisional standard, Splichal cruised to a time of 4:47.69, a mere 69 hundredths of a second off the provisional mark. Winning the race by 11 seconds, Splichal appeared to be running at another level from her competition as begins her swan song. A quartet of Lady’Backs finished third through sixth in the competition with freshman Kelly Vrshek taking third in a lifetime best of 5:04.49. Sophomore Tiffany Redlarczyk, freshman Denise Bargiachi and senior Jessie Gordon rounded out the field with times under 5:12.
“The milers looked great,” Harter said. “Three of the five ran lifetime bests and I couldn’t have asked Penny to do any more than she did for an opener. With a week of action under their belts, they should be even better next week.”
Junior Michelle Martin got off to her best start of any season on Friday night when she cleared 5-8 in the high jump to take third place overall. Making short work of her first two bars, Martin clipped her first attempt at 5-8 before clearing it easily on her second. Martin then put together three solid attempts at the winning height 5-11 ¼, and what would be her personal best, but just missed each of her chances. Freshman Kayla Tucker finished eighth in the event with a jump of 5-0 ¼.
Rounding out Arkansas’ list of top notch finishes on Friday night were its 400-meter runners. Sophomore Paige Farrell ran a career best to finish fifth in the open race when she cruised to a time of 54.79. Junior Sasha Rolle was not far behind when she clocked 55.57 for seventh overall. Farrell came back in the 4×400-meter relay and ran the second leg of the relay that finished third overall in a solid time of 3:42.03, two seconds off the NCAA provisional standard.
The Lady Razorbacks are back in action next weekend when they compete at the Razorback Invitational, January 20-21 at the Randal Tyson Track Center. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.