Elder Sprinters Step Up, Qualify
NORMAN, Okla. - Junior Kerri-Ann Mitchell and senior
Shaneatra Neely, the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track elder
statesmen in the sprints, picked their games up at the Sooner Indoor Invitational
in Norman, Okla., qualifying for the NCAA Championships in the 60-meter
dash and hurdles, respectively.
Leading a small contingent to Oklahoma in
preparations for the upcoming Southeastern Conference Championships, Mitchell
and Neely each cruised to career best performances on their way to NCAA
provisional qualifiers. Mitchell got the ball rolling with a mark of 7.39
in the finals of the dash, besting her career mark of 7.45, while Neely
shattered her season mark of 8.53 to record a time of 8.40 in the hurdles.
"The ladies performed exceptional today,"
Arkansas associate head coach Rolando Greene said. "To put a couple more
athletes on the national qualifiers list heading into the conference championship
is a huge confidence booster for us. I think that this can only lead to
bigger and better things in our future."
While both Lady Razorback qualifiers were provisional,
Mitchell's time of 7.39 ties her for the 13th fastest mark in the nation
placing her on the preverbal bubble for the NCAA Championships. Typically,
the NCAA Indoor Track Committee has taken as many as 15 or 16 athletes
to the championships, but with the addition of the combined events to
the 2004 slate, there is no telling how many athletes will be selected
from each individual event. Neely's time of 8.40 ties her for 27th in
the nation in the hurdles which has been one of the surprise events across
the nation in 2004.
In other Arkansas action, the Lady'Backs had
a pair of good efforts in the triple jump. Junior Beyonka McDowell, in
her first triple jump action for the Lady Razorbacks bounded to a mark
of 39 feet, 2.5 inches. A team best mark for the season, McDowell's effort
is also the fifth best mark in the SEC in 2004. Mitchell also had a strong
effort as she flew to 38-11, improving on her season best performance
by more than two feet and placing her in sixth in the conference behind
Senior Jennifer (Culp) Lincoln, who is still
recovering from a minor injury, showed signs of her former self when she
equaled her season best in the pole vault by clearing 12-9.5. Lincoln
looked smooth over the height and had several good attempts at 13 feet
and the NCAA provisional qualifier, but barely missed on her efforts.
The Lady Razorbacks are back in action on
Friday, February 27, on the first day of the SEC Championships to be held
at the University of Kentucky's Nutter Fieldhouse in Lexington, Ky.