Sheet #9 - The Texas Relays
A Good Start: The Arkansas Lady Razorbacks
got off to a good start in the outdoor season when they qualified eight
athletes at the Stanford Invitational last weekend. Headlined by junior
Kasia William's 13.20 in the 100 hurdles, Arkansas distance runners were
solid posting five of the qualifiers in the 800, steeplechase, 5,000 and
Eight Qualifiers, Two Days: Arkansas posted eight NCAA regional
and provisional qualifiers at the Stanford Invite, not bad for a two-day
affair. Especially when you consider that only a fraction of the Lady
Razorbacks traveled to the meet.
The Grand Opening: The Texas Relays marks the first time during
the outdoor season that the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks will compete in force.
Scheduled to bring its entire team, Arkansas is hoping to build on the
momentum that began at the Stanford Invitational.
Returning to Texas: The Lady Razorbacks are making a return to
the Texas Relays after spending last year at the Rafer Johnson-Jackie
Joyner Kersee Invitational in Los Angeles, Calif. The last time that the
Lady Razorbacks competed at the Texas Relays was in 2002.
Last Time at the Texas Relays: The Lady Razorbacks enjoyed great
performances at the 75th annual Texas Relays, highlighted by then senior
DeeDee Brown's relays championship in the heptathlon. Numerous Lady Razorback
individuals and relays put up NCAA qualifying marks on a weekend that
was not ideal for competition because of weather problems.
10th at the NCAA Indoors: The Lady Razorbacks concluded the 2004
indoor season with a 10th-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships
in Fayetteville. Entering the championships ranked 12th, Arkansas improved
on its finish for its fifth-consecutive top10.
Elite Company: Thanks to yet another top 10 finish, the Arkansas
Lady Razorbacks have been among the top 10 schools at the NCAA Indoor
Championships for five consecutive seasons. Only UCLA can make the same
Arkansas Sprinters: The University of Arkansas has been known predominantly
as a distance squad, but over the past several years, that aura has changed
to a more well balanced school. In 2004, the Lady Razorbacks are heavy
on sprint talent, a phase that will continue at least through the 2005
season as most of its sprinters are only juniors.
The Schedule: The Lady Razorbacks are scheduled to compete throughout
the 2004 Texas Relays with its first competitors taking to the track on
Thursday, April 1 at 4:00 p.m. Arkansas gets it easy on the first day
with just one race, but things heat up on Friday with numerous preliminaries
and several field events. After a long break through the afternoon, Arkansas
completes its day with the steeplechase at 9:00 p.m. The relays conclude
on Saturday and Arkansas is guaranteed to have at least four on the track
with the pole vault, DMR, and 1,500.
18 Athletes: The Lady Razorbacks will compete 18 athletes at the
Texas Relays, but in only eight individual events. Instead, Arkansas has
four relays set to compete and some of its best stars will see action
only with a baton in their hands.
Most Populated: Arkansas has most of its action concentrated on
the 100 hurdles where three Lady Razorbacks take to the track. Of course,
there are two in six of the other individual events, but only the hurdles
has more. Beyonka McDowell, Shaneatra Neely and Kasia Williams each get
to see action in the race.
The Trackwire Ranking: The Lady Razorbacks ended the 2004 indoor
season ranked 12th by Trackwire, but finished 10th at the NCAA Championships,
improving yet again. The outdoor rankings have yet to be released, but
it is a good bet that the Lady Razorbacks' ranking will fluctuate as the
season progresses as it did with the indoor campaign.
Trackshark: Arkansas opened the indoor season ranked 15th in the
Trackshark rankings, but dropped after the second rankings were released
to 22nd. Arkansas entered the NCAA Championships 11th. Trackshark ranks
teams based on other polls, rankings and scored competitions.
The USTCA Power Rankings: The United States Track Coaches Association
also has a rankings system, but theirs is based solely on performance.
The USTCA tracks the top two competitors in every event and assigns a
numeric value to that performance. The sum of the performances ranks the
team. The Lady Razorbacks opened the year 13th, and after falling to 23rd
ended the 2004 season ranked ninth in the land.
Fastest in the World: Junior Veronica Campbell ended the 2004 indoor
track season holding the fastest time in the world for 200 meters at 22.43.
The Jamaica native scorched the Randal Tyson Track Center surface on way
to her first NCAA title.
Collegiate Record Holder: Veronica Campbell's NCAA Championship
and subsequent time of 22.43 set the collegiate indoor record in the event.
She edged Muna Lee's (LSU) time of 22.49 which had been set at the NCAA
Championships in 2003.
One of the Fastest Ever: Not just the fastest in the world in
2004, or the collegiate record, Veronica Campbell's 22.43 is also one
of the fastest times ever on an indoor track. Campbell held the 44th fastest
time ever, prior to this season, with her mark of 22.63 which she ran
at the Tyson Invitational in 2003 and then lowered it to 29th at the Tyson
meet in 2004 with a time of 22.51.
And By the Way: In case it hasn't been obvious, Veronica Campbell's
run of 22.43 at the NCAA Championships is also the Arkansas school record,
breaking her own mark of 22.51. Campbell's time is more than one and a
half seconds faster than Arkansas' school record heading into the 2004
season, 24.06 by Gi-Gi Miller in 2000.
Unbeaten: Veronica Campbell seems to like the 200 meters more than
the 60 and looking at the results, one can tell. Campbell went unbeaten
in preliminary or finals action at the distance running the race six times
this indoor season and blowing away the competition in each race.
SEC Champion: She didn't break her season best, but Veronica Campbell's
200-meter time of 22.67 at the SEC Championships was good enough to win
in convincing fashion. She breezed past a world class field that included
defending national champion and former collegiate record holder Muna Lee
SEC Record Holder: Veronica Campbell's 200-meter time at the SEC
Championships of 22.67 was astonishing to watch, but it also destroyed
the SEC Championship record for the event by two-tenths of a second. The
record had been held by LSU's Dawn Sowell (22.87) which she set in 1989.
USTCA Regional Athlete of the Year: Veronica Campbell's performances
were so awe-inspiring during the indoor season that she was named the
United States Track Coaches Association's South Central Region Track Athlete
of the Year.
Silver Medalist: We mention it in the media guide, but it is worth
mentioning again. Veronica Campbell is also an Olympic silver medalist
in the 4x100-meter relay for her native Jamaica from the Sydney Olympic
She's Back: That's all that really needs to be said about Lady
Razorback pole vaulter Stacie Manuel. The SEC indoor champion in the pole
vault in 2003, Manuel returned to action after redshirting the indoor
season to jump 13-0.25 and qualify for the regional championships. Not
bad for someone that hadn't vaulted in eight months prior to getting the
clear from the doctor.
Focusing on the Relays: The Lady Razorbacks have several athletes
designated to compete in individual events, but looking at the lineup,
one can guess, that Arkansas is opening the season with an emphasis on
its relays. The Lady Razorbacks are scheduled to compete in four relay
events and while only two impact the NCAA Championship season, Arkansas
should stand to do well in the 4x800 and distance medley relay.
Williams Looks Strong: Junior hurdler Kasia Williams entered the
2004 season with a career best of 13.63 in the 100 hurdles, but after
a fabulous indoor season that saw her compete at the NCAA Championships,
Williams came out of the blocks like gangbusters at the Stanford Invitational
and ran career best of 13.20 during finals to take the invite championship.
Building On Success: Perhaps she is coming of age, perhaps its
coaching, who knows what the trigger mechanism has been for junior Kasia
Williams, but Arkansas' coaches are hoping that her trend of spiraling
her best marks down continues. Williams improved nearly every week during
the indoor season and capped off the year with a trip to the NCAA Championships
after nearly breaking Arkansas' school record for 55-hurdles.
Zeinner Records First Qualifier: Junior Alison Zeinner recorded
the first NCAA qualifier of her career at the Stanford Invitational last
weekend. An emotional leader for the Lady Razorback distance team, Zeinner
took the first steps to leading on the track when she ran 35:56.63 to
provisionally qualify for the NCAA meet.
Breaking a Streak: Arkansas' disappointing finish at the 2004 SEC
Championships snapped a streak of 13 consecutive conference meets in which
the Lady Razorbacks finished in the top three. The string of top performances
was the longest in SEC history, edging Florida and Alabama who each had
streaks of 10.
Scott Has a Breakthrough: Sophomore Maureen Scott was very good
as a freshman. She was the third-place finisher in the steeplechase at
the SEC Championships and posted very good times all around for a true
frosh. While not making waves during the indoor season, Scott has rebounded
to post an excellent opener to the outdoor season when she ran a 12-second
personal best in the 5,000 meters at 16:26.64.
Returning all-Americans: The Lady Razorbacks return five all-Americans
to their indoor roster with another two getting added outdoors. Arkansas'
indoor all-Americans include Dawnyell Fletcher (two times), Jennifer Lincoln
(one time), Stacie Manuel (one time), Erica Sigmont (four times) and Jamie
Walker (one time). Joining the Lady'Backs between seasons are Londa Bevins
(five times) and Jessica Johnson (two times).
Coming Home: For several Lady Razorbacks the Texas Relays are a
chance to compete against friendly faces and showcase their talents the
ones that care for them most, their family. The Lady Razorbacks who are
making return trips to the Texas Relays include Erin Anderson (Austin),
Londa Bevins (Mesquite), Jodi Driggers (Abilene), Jessica Johnson (Southlake),
Michelle Martin (Irving) and Shannon Spaulding (Rockport).