Lady'Backs post seven qualifiers in opener

IRVINE, Calif. – After a good opening day on Friday, the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team blew the doors off the Collegiate Classic in Irvine, Calif., by recording seven NCAA regional qualifiers despite not running any of their distance runners in their primary events.

Arkansas’ pole vaulters and 400-meter runners each recorded a pair of regional marks while the 4×100 and 4×400 relays qualified for the post season along with Tominque Boatright in the 200 meters.

“Considering that we don’t have a track to train on, I am extremely happy with our performances,” Arkansas head track coach Lance Harter said. “I was especially impressed with the 4×100 relay who took their first exchanges on a track yesterday morning. This is a good starting point for us and next week we will really focus on the distances at the Stanford Invitational and then everyone else has the Texas Relays in two weeks as their focal point.”

In the vault, indoor all-American Jodi Unger continued her season of impressive performances when she won the event with a clearance of 12 feet, 11 ½ inches. The top vaulter in a 1-2-3 Arkansas sweep, sophomore Stephanie Irwin also recorded a regional mark when she vaulted 12-5 ½. Fellow sophomore Danielle O’Reilly completed the Arkansas trifecta with a clearance of 11-11 ¾.

Arkansas’ 400-meter runners were also on top of their game as Sasha Rolle and Jessica Cousins went 1-2 in the event, each with NCAA regional qualifiers. Rolle won the competition with a time of 54.22, with Cousins right behind at 54.47. The third-place finisher was nearly a full second behind Arkansas’ 1-2 punch.

Rolle and Cousins also qualified for the regional championships in the 4×400-meter relay. Teaming with Boatright and Paige Farrell, the quartet, who set the indoor school record in the event, were more than two seconds ahead of their competition as they ran 3:41.27.

Substituting Lakeisha Martin for Farrell on the 4×100-meter relay, Arkansas ran 45.55 to finish a full second ahead of second-place Cornell and nearly two seconds ahead of third-place Michigan. Arkansas’ time didn’t quite make its all-time top five, but appears to be in striking distance this early in the season.

Rounding out Arkansas’ regional qualifiers was Boatright in the 200 meters. Not her primary event, Boatright clocked a time of 23.69 and appeared to be on cruise control as she crossed the finish. An all-American in the 400 meters indoors, Boatright decimated the competition by a full second in the half-lap race, saving herself for the two relay events which she was an integral part of. Boatright ran the second leg of the 4×100 and was the anchor for the longer event.

Overall, Arkansas won 10 of the 16 events that it competed in on the weekend, proving that it was the best team at the competition. Other event winners included Martin in the 100 meters, Tiavannia Thompson in the 100 hurdles, Michelle Rossio in the shot put and Carly Bloomfield in the javelin throw.

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