Big Names Coming To Tyson

FAYETTEVILLE -- A blazing women's 60-meter dash featuring two-time Olympic gold medalist Veronica Campbell, Allyson Felix, Lauryn Williams and Muna Lee will highlight the Tyson Invitational Meet on Feb. 11-12 at the Randal Tyson Track Center. \

Campbell, a former Lady'Back, is ranked first in the world in the 200 meters and second in the 60.

Perdita Felicien of Canada and Melissa Morrison-Howard, the bronze medalist in the Athens Olympics, will battle in the 60-meter hurdles, while former Lady'Back April Steiner and Amy Linnen of Kansas duel in the pole vault.

"Hearing the names coming to this meet sends shivers down my spine," said UA men's track coach John McDonnell. "We'll have a better field than Boston or New York this year."

But first, the UA men's and women's teams go to the New Balance Collegiate Invitational at the Armory in New York City this weekend for a big invitational meet that started with 10 teams but has grown to 45.

Lady'Backs coach Lance Harter hopes to nationally qualify his distance medley relay team of Aneita Denton, Tominque Boatright, Paige Farrell and Erica Sigmont, plus the UA 4x400 relay team.

"I hope everyone is healthy," Harter said. "Erica has had asthma problems, and Aneita has had ankle and cyst issues."

Arkansas will enter all four of its pole vaulters -- sophomore Stacie Manuel and Jodi Driggers and freshmen Megan Scott and Danielle O'Reilly -- in a competition which has been moved up to 9 a.m. Saturday.

"That means getting on the bus at 6 a.m.," Harter said.

Kasia Williams hopes to make the finals of the 60-meter hurdles, held in connection with the 96th Millrose games.

"They keep adding sections, and now athletes are coming from France and Great Britain," Harter said.

Arkansas' gymnastics team, ranked 13th after a narrow loss to then-No. 6 Georgia last week, travels on Friday to No. 4 LSU, the top-rated Southeastern Conference team.

"LSU just missed making the Super Six (nationals) by the smallest of margins last year, and they return almost everybody," said UA co-coach Rene Cook. "We're excited about what should be a very spirited competition."

The Tigers feature April Burkholder, a 5-foot-1 junior from Houston, Texas, who was named SEC Athlete of the Week last week after scoring a season-high 39.575 points in the all-around against Alabama.

"She's a great little gymnast, and the leader of LSU's team," Cook said. "But we're determined to go down there and give them our best shot."

Hannah McLeod, a UA junior co-captain who has been out three weeks with a sprained ankle, should return for at least one event this week.

"It will take some time for her to get back in a rhythm," Cook said.

Arkansas co-coach Mark Cook said Arkansas' performance against Georgia -- which dropped the Gym Dogs to No. 7 nationally -- should give them confidence.

"I told our athletes, 'Hey, you're a good team -- you're getting up there,'" Mark Cook said.

For the first time in Arkansas women's tennis history, the Lady'Backs won every game in defeating Oral Roberts University last week.

"It's the first time I've seen that in 15 years," said UA coach Michael Hegarty. "This week we play Tulsa, and they gave up 15 games while beating ORU. Tulsa might have been sleeping against ORU, but we weren't sleeping."

Arkansas goes to Tulsa on Friday and to Oklahoma State on Sunday, for matches which should be equivalent to some SEC tussles.

"Both of those teams were better than us last year, but we think we're as good this year," Hegarty said.

Freshman Maryori Franco and junior Vlatka Jovanovic alternated at No. 1 singles for Arkansas last weekend in wins over ORU and St. Louis.

"It's more of a mental strain to play No. 1 day-in and day-out," Hegarty said. "Sometimes the No. 1 player doesn't do as well at No. 2, but both of them handled it fine."

Hegarty said Melissa Cornett, a 5-11 freshman from Little Rock, impressed with her "decisiveness and energy level" last week.

Arkansas plans to add Oklahoma to the schedule next season, in a home doubleheader including the OU and UA men's teams.

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