Olympian Campbell Returns To Tyson Meet

FAYETTEVILLE -- To hear Arkansas women's track coach Lance Harter tell it in preseason, the Lady Razorbacks would have a "developmental" team this indoor season.

Well, all the Lady'Backs did at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational and Millrose Games in New York last week was break two school records, win a Millrose title and earn six qualifying marks for the NCAA Championships.

"In 30 years of coaching, I've never had a group rise beyond my expectations like this team has," Harter said this week. "We caught some people's attention."

Arkansas will try to build on its momentum with four entries in the Powered by Tyson Invitational Meet at the Randal Tyson Track Center tonight, plus a full slate of competitors in the collegiate meet on Saturday.

UA senior Aneita Denton, who ranks fifth with her 2:07.55 in the 800 meters, will compete against the big guns tonight.

So will Erica Sigmont in the mile, Kasia Williams in the 60-meter hurdles and a 4x400-meter relay team made up of freshmen Paige Farrell of Springdale, Sydney Scarbrough of Fayetteville and Tominque Boatright of Aurora, Ill., with Denton on the anchor leg.

But the Lady'Backs will yield the spotlight tonight to a superstar cast featuring two-time Olympic gold medalist Veronica Campbell in the 60-meter dash, Perdita Felicien and Melissa Morrison-Howard in the 60-meter hurdles; Hazel Clark and Tiffany McWilliams in the 800, four-time All-American April Steiner and Amy Linnen in the pole vault and DeeDee Trotter in the 200.

Campbell, who ran a 22.51 in the 200 meters for Arkansas in the Tyson meet last year, will be opposed in the 60 by world-class sprinters LaTasha Colander, Allyson Felix, Lauryn Williams and Muna Lee, at 8:55 p.m.

Felix, a 19-year-old from Los Angeles, ran second to Campbell in the Olympic 200 meters at Athens, Greece, last summer.

Colander, a 28-year-old North Carolina grad, earned a gold medal on the U.S. 4x400 relay team in Athens. Williams, 21, of Miami, Fla., was the Olympic silver medalist in the 100-meter dash, and Lee was a many-times All-American at LSU.

Felicien, a Canadian, dominated the hurdles in college at Illinois and has rehabbed from a nasty fall in the Olympic finals last year. Howard won the bronze medal in the 100-meter hurdles for the second time in Athens at age 33.

"Great athletes want to run in the Tyson meet," Harter said. "It's a faster track than they have in New York, and the 60-meter race should be phenomenal. People have called all week and said, 'Do you realize how hot this meet is?'"

So hot that it includes Steiner, who has won $50,000 on NBC's "Fear Factor" since leaving Arkansas.

Harter said Saturday's meet could serve as a preview for the Southeastern Conference Championships set for the Tyson Center on Feb. 25-27.

SEC teams occupy the top five spots in one national poll, Trackshark.com, with Arkansas No. 5.

Harter still projects the Lady'Backs between 15th and 20th nationally, but he said LSU, Tennessee, Florida and South Carolina could all contend for national honors on March 11-12 in Fayetteville.

"We ran with South Carolina for a couple of legs in the 4x400 relay in New York last week, before falling back," Harter said. "This week we're going to rotate Scarbrough in there."

Farrell, who leads off the 4x400 for Arkansas, also runs the 800-meter leg for the third-ranked UA distance medley relay team (11:09.09).

"Last week, 'Paigie' ran a 2:07 leg, which was nine seconds better than her previous best," Harter said. "She seems to run even better in relays."

Williams won the Millrose Games 60-meter hurdles in 8.27, while Brandy Blackwood of Arkansas broke the UA weight throw record with a monster throw of 65 feet, 11 inches.

Stacie Manuel qualified in the pole vault at 13-3.75 to lead a 1-2-3 UA sweep in New York, and sophomore Michelle Martin surprised by high-jumping 5-8 -- just one inch shy of her own height. Beyonka McDowell long-jumped 19-11.75.

Sigmont ran a 4:43 mile, while having to keep an even pace because of her asthma condition.

Harter said Alison Rush surprised fellow competitors in New York by running the 5,000 meters in 16:24.90.

"Larry Rawson of ESPN went to New York to do research for the Tyson meet," Harter noted.

ESPN2 will show taped highlights of tonight's action at 8 p.m. Saturday.

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