FAYETTEVILLE – The No. 9 University of Arkansas women’s track and field team opened their outdoor season Friday at the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif. Among the highlights, Shelise Williams posted a victory in the 400 meters to lead three top-10 finishes in the event for the Razorbacks. The team also picked up a handful of personal bests and advanced three to the finals of the 100-meter hurdles.
"The kids performed absolutely fantastic today," head coach Lance Harter. "Along with a lot of personal bests, we had some really good breakthroughs in terms of our mentality against some really good competition. Our big winner of the day was Shelise in the 400 meters. She won here last year and wouldn’t be denied a second title. It was a marvelous day. If you were to project how you wanted a day to go, we exceeded those expectations today."
Williams began her outdoor campaign with a first-place performance in the 400 meters. Running in section one with teammates Regina George and Whitney Jones, Williams clocked in at 52.50 to set the pace for the remaining heats. George finished fourth overall with a time of 53.46 and Jones, running in the first open quarter of her collegiate career, turned in a time of 54.54, good for ninth place. Bethany Hyter (56.60) and Rachel Werner (57.09) rounded out the team’s runners in the event.
Cali George was the winner in section three of the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Shaving nearly 12 second off her previous best, George posted a time of 10:31.67 to come away with the victory. Grace Heymsfield made her debut in the event and finished 13th in the section with a time of 10:56.74, good for a qualifying mark for the USA Junior Championships. Overall, Megan Jackson was Arkansas’ top performer in the steeplechase. She finished fourth in section two with a time of 10:29.92.
In the first result of the day for the team, the Razorbacks qualified three for Saturday’s final of the 100-meter hurdles. Brittany Hyter led a 5-6-7 result for Arkansas followed by Breeana Coleman and Ivanique Kemp, respectively. In the preliminary rounds, Hyter won the second heat with a time of 13.77 while Coleman and Kemp clocked in at 13.83 and 13.88, in section one.
Hyter returned to the track with a sixth-place finish in the 400-meter hurdles. Running in the first heat of the event, she crossed in a time of 1:02.47. Teammate Leah Orley, who also competed in the 100-meter hurdles, finished in a time of 1:05.29, good for 21st overall in the 400-meter hurdles.
Gwendolyn Flowers finished fourth in the finals of the 100 meters with a time of 11.76, a personal-best performance. She qualified for the nine-person final with an 11.87 clocking in the preliminary rounds. Off their efforts in the hurdle event, Coleman and Kemp turned in times of 12.13 and 12.14, respectively, but did not advance to the final.
Competing in the invitational section of the long jump, Shantel Thompson finished second overall and was the top collegiate performer in the event. Her best mark of the day went out to 18-9.25. Making her debut for Arkansas in the javelin, Rebecca Gorden finished with a mark of 123-1 and a ninth-place showing.
Miranda Walker was the Razorbacks’ top performer in the 5,000 meters. The senior distance runner clocked in at 16:15.99, nearly 13 seconds taken off her previous best, and finished in 12th place in section one of the event. Kristen Gillespie had a sixth-place finish with a time of 16:31.73 in section two of the 5,000 meters. It was the first race at that distance of her collegiate track career.
Makeba Alcide finished a busy day with a sixth-place finish in the high jump. She finished the competition with a mark of 5-5.25. Earlier in the day, she finished 21st in the 100-meter hurdles preliminary rounds. Making her first outdoor appearance since the 2009 season, Jillian Rosen finished 12th in section two of the 1,500 meters. She finished the race with a time of 4:30.89.
The Stanford Invitational concludes Saturday with competition beginning at 11 a.m. (CT) in Palo Alto. In addition to Shantel Thompson in the triple jump, Arkansas has entries in the 200 meters, 800 meters, finals of the 100-meter hurdles, 4×100 and 4×400 relays. Log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com for more information.