Dacia Barr, Paige Farrell, Aneita Denton and Erica Sigmont will run in the distance medley relay for the Lady Razorbacks in the Penn Relays today, then catch a plane to Des Moines, Iowa, where they will run the 4x800 in the Drake Relays on Saturday.
"This is an opportunity to run against the best in the country," said Arkansas coach Lance Harter. "Penn is one of the granddaddies of track and field in this country, and so is Drake."
Besides showcasing its feature quartet that won two races in the Texas Relays, Arkansas has other fish to fry this weekend.
"This is our final tune-up for the Southeastern Conference Championships, and it's a chance to answer some questions with our developmental people," Harter said.
Namely, junior Jessica Gordon, sophomore Laura Kerr and freshman Tiffany Redlarczyk.
Gordon will try to qualify nationally in the 5,000 meters at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, while Kerr and Redlarczyk will attempt the steeplechase at Drake.
"This is a big meet for Jessie," Harter said.
In addition, Arkansas will take its four-woman pole vaulting crew to Penn, where former Lady'Back April Steiner won in 2003 and current vaulter Stacie Manuel prevailed last year.
Manuel will try to add to the Arkansas women's seven previous individual titles at Penn. Danielle O'Reilly, Jodi Driggers and Stephanie Irwin are also scheduled to vault for the Lady'Backs.
"Stephanie sat out last week," Harter said. "She has congenital back issues, so we have to be careful with her."
Arkansas has won just two relay titles at Penn -- the 4x1,500 in 2000 and the distance medley in 2001 -- but Barr, Farrell, Denton and Sigmont could change that in the DMR today.
Denton has run the best collegiate time in the open 800 meters this year, while Sigmont ran the nation's 13th-best 1,500-meter time two weeks ago in the Mt. SAC Relays in California.
Barr, who will run the opening 800, has done the 1,500 meters in 4:25.59 this year.
Farrell, a freshman from Springdale, has run 2:08 in the 800. She'll do the 400-meter leg at Penn before resuming her normal distance in the 4x800 at Drake.
Arkansas, which threatened to win a third relay in the Texas Relays this year before Tominque Boatright came up lame in the sprint medley, will also try the 4x400 at Drake.
"Tominque grabbed a hamstring before we could get the baton to Aneita at Austin," Harter said. "But Tominque is fine now. She'll run the 4x400 with Paige, Aneita and Sydney Scarbrough."
Scarbrough, a freshman from Fayetteville, won the 100-meter dash in the John McDonnell Invitational last week in a career-best 11.92.
The Lady'Backs already have 25 national qualifying performances during this outdoor season.
"We could be a contender at the SEC," Harter said. "We could be pretty potent, but all of our bullets have to hit because there's so much firepower in this conference. We were hoping for some help in the SEC Indoor to break up some of Tennessee's power, but we finished second to them."
The SEC Outdoor Meet is May 12-15 in Nashville, Tenn. That's followed by the NCAA Regional in Bloomington, Ind., May 29-31, and the NCAA Championships in Sacramento, Calif., June 8-11.
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