Beckford wins SEC long jump

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Arkansas Razorback women’s track and field picked up the long jump win and 28 points in the pole vault and 3K, combined, on day two of the SEC Championships in Lexington, Ky.

The Razorbacks sit in first place with 45 points in the team race after two days of events. LSU is second with 32 points and Kentucky rounds out the top three with 28 points.

Senior Peter-Gaye Beckford recovered from the grueling pentathlon on Friday and won the long jump title on Saturday. She marked a leap of 20-9.25 to take the win. Her mark is an improved NCAA qualifier, ranks tied for 11th on the NCAA list and is the third-best jump in school history. Beckford is the first Razorback to win the indoor long jump since joining the SEC in 1992.

"Peter-Gaye (Beckford) is a very powerful athlete," associate head coach Rolando Greene said. "She is very strong and she caught the right position and made the most of it. It has been a very tough couple of weeks for her and it’s great to see her bounce back and get this win. She also had a great mark that should definitely get her into the national meet."

Freshman Whitney Jones had a great day of competition at her first SEC meet. She finished third overall and first among frosh competitors in the long jump. She marked a leap of 19-10.75, matched her personal best and earned six points.

While competing in the long jump, she also ran the prelims of the 200 meters. Jones finished eighth among the 28 competitors and advanced to Sunday’s final. She clocked a time of 24.11.

"Whitney Jones had a great day," Greene said. "She improves every week for us and is really someone we count on, especially this weekend. She had a solid 200-meter race and a great long jump competition. Peter-Gaye and Whitney scored 16 big points. Whitney made huge strides this weekend."

Sophomore Tara Diebold paced the Razorback vaulters to a 2-3-8 finish for Arkansas in the event. She cleared 13-5 to earn the second All-SEC honor of her career. Freshman Tina Sutej was right behind her with the same clearance and a bronze finish. Junior Katie Stripling struggled at the early bars and was only able to clear 12-9.5 to finish eighth.

"We were really tested today as a vault crew," Diebold said. "Katie Stripling is our rock and when she didn’t clear (13-1), it affected all of us. Tina (Sutej) really stepped up as a freshman at her first SEC meet. Rachel Laurent (the winner from LSU) is a great jumper and she deserves all the credit. We had a pretty good warm up today. I’m happy for my finish but vaulting is a team sport for us so it is disappointing too."

The Razorbacks finished out the day with 13 points in the 3,000 meters. Sophomore Catherine White led a 3-5-6 finish for Arkansas in the event. She clocked a time of 9:25.06, a personal best and an NCAA provisional mark. Senior Denise Bargiachi was fifth with her personal-best and improved NCAA time of 9:29.17. Senior Christine Kalmer rounded out the Hogs’ scorers with a sixth-place finish. She clocked a time of 9:37.93.

"The pole vault is typically an event we’ve had success in but Katie (Stripling) had a tough day," head coach Lance Harter said. "Tara Diebold and Tina Sutej performed honorably and did all that they could. The long jump was huge for us today and we got some good qualifiers for tomorrow’s finals."

"The 3,000 meters was a pretty honest race," Harter said. "Our crew stuck to the race plan and it turned out favorably for us. They looked strong and fit and now they have to come back and do it again in the 5K tomorrow."

Arkansas picked up three big qualifiers for Sunday’s finals in Jones (200 meters, 24.12), Shelise Williams (400 meters, 54.12), Janine Davis (800 meters, 2:10.45) and Jillian Rosen (mile, 4:50.98). Williams’ time in the quarter mile is a personal best, an improved NCAA qualifier and ranks 16th on the NCAA list.

The qualifiers will join the 5,000-meter finals, the 4×400-meter relay, the distance medley relay, the high jump and the triple jump for finals on Sunday.

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Download: Sunday heat sheets.pdf