Lady'Backs shatter record add to qualifiers

AUSTIN, Texas – It was a team effort that led the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team to a school record at the 80th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays on Friday as the quartet of Lakeisha Martin, Tominque Boatright, Jessica Cousins and Paige Farrell shattered the one-year-old Arkansas record in the sprint medley relay and took the relay’s championship in the event.

Arkansas’ relay championship is its third overall and it’s first since the 2005 season when it took the 4×800-meter relay.

“We had another great day today,” Arkansas associate head coach Rolando Greene said. “We were a little worried about the weather, but it turned out to be a beautiful day. I am so proud of the sprint medley relay. It got cold at night, but they stayed focused and won the relay. Paige looked great on the anchor leg holding off the girl from LSU who was an NCAA finalist in the 800 meters at the end.”

Leading off for the Lady’Backs was Martin who got the Lady Razorbacks off to a fast start with a 23.8 split for 200 meters. Handing the stick to Boatright, Arkansas picked up another excellent 200-meter split of 22.8 and handed the baton to Cousins in first place for the 400-meter leg. Arkansas’ school record holder at the distance ran an unbelievable 52.2 leg to keep the Lady’Backs in the lead and give Farrell a nice cushion. Farrell ended the competition with a 2:06.1 final 800 meters for Arkansas’ victory.

“Paige was really patient,” Greene said. “She knew what she could do and waited for everyone to catch her before she really exerted herself. I thought that this team could break last season’s record, but with the cold it was anyone’s guess.”

Arkansas’ Texas Relays continue to get better with each day as Friday’s action brought seven NCAA regional qualifiers including one new mark and three improvements to previous bests. Joining the qualifying parade in Austin was redshirt freshman Katie Stripling who cleared 12-5 ½ in the pole vault. Improvements came from Peter-Gaye Beckford and Carly Bloomfield in the javelin and the 4×400-meter relay.

The Lady Razorback javelin throwers also looked impressive as they went 1-2-8 in the ‘B’ section of the event Friday morning. All three Lady Razorbacks set personal bests in the event led by Beckford whose toss of 154-4 is the second best throw in Lady Razorback history. Bloomfield wasn’t far behind at 151-2 to record the fourth best throw and Kelsey Mollenkamp just missed out on a regional qualifying effort at 137-9.

Not to be missed in the action at Texas was the performance of Arkansas’ 4×400-meter relay that looked outstanding in their preliminary heat. Starting in lane five of what appeared to be a stout race, Sasha Rolle got off to a tremendous start and her 54 second split left those in attendance no question as to who would win the race. The Lady’Back quartet which included Cousins, Farrell and Boatright won their heat by nearly 80 meters as they ran 3:35.75. Arkansas’ time qualifies it for the event finals against some of the nation’s best relay teams.

Stripling’s day began at 11-11 ¾, a bar that she would make with ease. At 12-5 ½, Stripling would also record a first bar clearance earning her the NCAA qualifier. With the bar moved to 12-11 ½, she would get three excellent jumps, but couldn’t keep it on the standards ending her day.

The Lady Razorback 4×100-meter relay also put together a solid race, but could not improve their time from the season opener as it finished 12th overall in 45.69 seconds. Martin, Beckford, Boatright and Cousins teamed up to run the race, but were probably affected by the early, 9:30 a.m., start keeping them from improving their season best time. The quartet did meet the regional standard in the race however.

The Texas Relays conclude on Saturday, April 7 on a day that could prove to be problematic if the weather forecast holds up and rain moves into the Austin area. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to LADYBACKS.COM.