UA Women Try Compensate For Heavy Losses

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas returns four All-Americans to its women's indoor track team this season, but coach Lance Harter can't help thinking about what might have been.

The Lady Razorbacks, after a sixth-place Southeastern Conference Indoor finish last season, shocked everyone by winning the SEC Outdoor title behind Olympic sprinters Veronica Campbell and LaShaunte'a Moore.

Campbell and Moore each had eligibility remaining at Arkansas, but chose to turn pro last summer.

Then top pole vaulter Amy Linnen, who wanted to transfer from Arizona to Arkansas for her senior year, was denied by SEC Commissioner Mike Slive and will instead compete for Kansas.

Linnen sought a waiver of an SEC rule which denies transfers with just one year of eligibility left, but her appeal was turned down.

"This was going to be our year to win everything," Harter said. "Instead, we'll have our work cut out to stay in the top third of the SEC."

Arkansas still has four-time All-America distance runner Erica Sigmont and 2004 All-Americans Aneita Denton, Maureen Scott and Kasia Williams.

But the Lady'Backs will have just five indoor meets in which to qualify for nationals, beginning with the Arkansas Invitational on Friday. Women's field events begin at 1 p.m. at the Randal Tyson Track Center, with running-event finals going from 5:10 to about 9 p.m.

Lakeisha Martin, a junior transfer sprinter from Arkansas-Pine Bluff, should provide a lift for the Lady'Backs.

"She'll be a great asset," Harter said. "She committed early to UAPB, then exploded during her senior year at Pine Bluff High School. Lonnie Greene (UA sprints coach) thinks she'll be very good when she gets in better shape."

Paige Farrell, a UA freshman from Springdale, was one of eight Lady'Backs who stayed home to train through the Christmas holidays. She will run the 400 and 800 meters.

"The 800 is her long-term future," Harter said.

Freshman Sydney Scarbrough of Fayetteville is a Lady'Backs sprinter, while freshman Stephanie Irwin of Mt. Ida is a pole vaulter and freshman Whitney Anderson of Russellville projects as a pentathlete.

"We're very young," Harter said. "Lots of freshmen and sophomores."

Arkansas does have a more veteran distance crew, including seniors Sigmont, Shiloh Whiting and Penny Splichal, and juniors Alison Zeinner Rush, Maureen Scott, Laura Jakosky and Jessie Gordon.

"Last year we had one medical crisis after another, but we've stayed pretty healthy this year," Harter said. "We'll see how we are after the long semester break."

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