KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The pole vault crew of the No. 11 Arkansas Razorbacks women’s track and field team put together a 1-2-3 finish at the SEC Outdoor Championships, in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday. Arkansas leads the team race with 42.5 points, Florida is second with 40.5 points and Georgia rounds out the top three with 39.5 points.
At the conclusion of the 1,500-meter prelims and at the beginning of the pole vault (approx. 5 p.m.), a rain delay went into effect and lasted four hours. Competition resumed at 9:30 p.m. with the men’s shot put, women’s discus, women’s pole vault and women’s high jump and the running events.
"We are ahead of schedule based on our pre-meet predictions," head coach Lance Harter said. "We need to capitalize on our qualifiers tomorrow and pick up every point we can. We had some big break throughs today in the long jump with Whitney Jones and Janice Keppler in the pole vault. We have some big finals tomorrow in the sprints, relays, middle distances and 5,000 meters."
Sophomore Tina Sutej won the pole vault with a clearance of 13-9.75. Her victory earns her a sweep of the SEC indoor and outdoor pole vault titles and she led a 1-2-3 finish for Arkansas in the event.
"We were all in the same situation with the rain delay so we all had to deal with it," Sutej said. "I’m really happy to get this victory but there are some things we need to work on before NCAAs. The jumping wasn’t perfect tonight but we scored some big points for the team."
Senior Janice Keppler finished second on misses with a personal-best clearance of 13-9.75. Senior Katie Stripling finished tied for third with a height of 13-6.5.
Sophomore Whitney Jones picked up a fifth-place finish in the long jump. Her best jump of the day measured 20-3.5, a personal best for Jones. Junior Shantel Thompson finished eighth with a personal-best mark of 19-10.75. Freshman Leah Orley finished 20th (16-3.75).
Sophomore Cali George finished sixth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 10:44.58. Sophomore Taylor Johnson was eighth, clocking a personal-best time of 10:50.40.
In the 1,500-meter prelims, sophomore Samantha Learch finished third with a personal-best time of 4:25.91. Sophomore Kristen Gillespie was ninth with a time of 4:27.84 and freshman Natanya Luther finished 16th (4:44.62). Both Learch and Gillespie advanced to Sunday’s finals.
In the prelims of the 100-meter hurdles, sophomore Brittany Hyter finished second in her heat and fourth overall with a personal-best time of 13.52.
Junior Shelise Williams won her heat and finished second overall in the prelims of the 400 meters with a season-best clocking of 52.23. Freshman Regina George won her heat and finished third overall with a personal best time of 52.62. Both will run in Sunday’s finals.
Senior Karen Thomas finished 12th in the prelims of the 400 meters with a personal-best time of 54.45 and junior Edina Brooks was 24th in 56.98. Freshman Gwendolyn Flowers finished 21st in the prelims of the 100 meters (12.22) and freshman Rachel Werner was 26th in 12.49.
The Razorbacks will continue competition Sunday with the triple jump at 2:30 p.m.