NORMAN, Okla. – The frigid weather that has rocked Northwest Arkansas was very apparent in Norman, Okla., over the weekend as the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team competed at the John Jacobs Invitational.
The chilling temperatures and wind gusts kept the Lady Razorbacks from continuing their steady improvements as they march toward the Southeastern Conference and NCAA Championships, but fortunately for Arkansas, it already has a majority of its NCAA qualifiers in hand so a bad weekend’s weather shouldn’t be too costly.
“As long as the outdoor track season is, there are precious few chances to really get a good qualifier,” Arkansas associate head coach Rolando Greene said. “We have been blessed with great performances early so this weekend shouldn’t hurt us. Next weekend we have the Drake Relays and just two weeks after that is the conference championship, so its getting down to crunch time.”
A contingent of 21 Lady Razorbacks traveled to Norman for the John Jacobs which has typically been a very good meet for Arkansas. Over the years many Lady Razorbacks have earned their way to the regional or national championships at the meet, but because of the cold, only two Lady Razorback marks met the regional qualifying standard, and neither was an improvement on a past performance.
Arkansas’s 4×100-meter relay did show some improvement from their run at the Texas Relays when it clocked 45.68 in the short sprint relay. The time did not exceed their season best of 44.67, but the race was the third time in a row that the Lady Razorbacks were able to move the baton around the track without infraction. In fact, this weekend’s performance was certainly something that has Arkansas’ coaches smiling.
“While we didn’t run as fast as I would like, we did move the stick better than we have,” Greene commented. “One of the key elements to the 4×100 is how fast you can get the baton through the exchange zones without losing speed and we did that very well. With some warmer weather I feel like we can run much faster.”
Also posting a regional mark was Makeatha Cooper in the 100-meter hurdles. A transfer to the Lady Razorback program this fall, Cooper has recorded a qualifier in the hurdles in all three of her competitions this fall and is poised to make an assault at the best the nation has to offer. Cooper’s time of 13.83 in Norman was average by national standards, but with just a 0.2 meters-per-second tailwind and the elements working against her, she has shown that she is ready to assault the 13-second mark, a move that could take her from good college hurdler to potential international competitor.
Coming close to a regional mark was senior 400-meter runner Sasha Rolle who came within a breath of the 54.61 regional mark with a time of 54.65. The finish placed Rolle third overall at the meet and was her first open 400 meters of the season. Rolle will race again at the distance within the next two weeks and the Lady Razorback coaching staff is confident that she will post a regional mark then.
The Lady Razorbacks are home next weekend for the John McDonnell Invitational at John McDonnell Field, Friday and Saturday, April 20-21. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to LADYBACKS.COM.