Scott Shows Speed in Steeplechase

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Arkansas Lady'Backs coach Lance Harter likes reminding Maureen Scott she's beaten teammate and NCAA 800 champion Aneita Denton.

Scott, a junior steeplechaser, sometimes needs a little convincing she has speed to go with her nail-tough persona.

Scott used that speed to run a season-best 10:18.03 to take third and earn her second straight trip to the NCAA Championships on Saturday at the Mideast Regional at Billy Hayes Track.

The time was just off her personal best of 10:16.01 from last year but it was a huge confidence boost after a back injury slowed her after the Texas Relays in April.

"Big build of confidence for her heading into nationals," said Harter of Scott, who was an All-American 12th in the event last year. "She just needs to get a little stronger mentally and physically. If she gets in the finals, she has a shot because she's so tough."

Scott, who heard Harter reminding her about her win against Denton in the 1,500 at the McDonnell Invitational five weeks ago, said she was feeling closer to her old, healthier self on Saturday.

"I'm getting back up there," she said. "It held me back for two weeks. With another two weeks, who knows what can happen?

"At first, I was frustrated because i didn't know if i'd get back. I'm very fortunate to be back in it."

Scott was one of five Lady'Backs to earn trips to the NCAA Outdoor Championships June 8-11 in Sacramento, Calif., joining Denton and Kasia Williams as automatic qualifiers.

Denton won the 800 in 2:04.75 to become the first Arkansas woman to win an individual running event at the Mideast Regional.

April Steiner won the pole vault in 2003 and the 4x100-relay team won in 2004.

"They (other runners) already know about me," Denton said. "Running ths time and winning is nothing new."

Williams, the Southeastern Conference champion in the 100-meter hurdles, slammed the fourth hurdle but stayed composed enough to finish in fourth for an automatic bid.

"Kasia crashed on hurdle four and still nursed herself back into the top five," Harter said. "There's a lot of times in that event where you just shut it down. She put herself back in it."

Waiting on at-large bids will be Erica Sigmont in the 800 and Laura Jakosky, who ran a less than tactically perfect race, but still came away with a strong enough finish to make the NCAA field in the 5,000.

A long shot to make the field will be freshman Dacia Barr, who was seventh in the 1,500 and will wait to see if her season-best of 4:25.59 will get her in.

Sigmont was seventh in the 800 and should get an at-large bid with her 10th-ranked time of 2:05.46.

Arkansas already has automatic qualifiers in Beyonka McDowell in the heptathlon and Alison Zeiner-Rush in the 10,000. Stacie Manuel made it in the pole vault Friday as did Brandi Blackwood in the hammer.

"It's been true to form," said Harter, adding Barr would be a pleasant surprise if she somehow earned a bid.

After making several moves in the first 3,000 meters to hold the lead, Jakosky was passed up by seven runners with six laps to go.

Fading to ninth and one position out of NCAA consideration, Jakosky was able to overtake Kathleen Turchin of Tennessee-Chattanooga for eighth in the final lap.

"The plan ahead of time was to run a nice, tactical, smooth race until the last 800 because she has good closing speed, which she demonstrated today," Harter said. "The problem is, she gets bored, literally, at 6 or 7 laps to go and takes the lead. I don't know why. she just set herself up."

Jakosky's season-best of 16:25.88 is the sixth-best time on the descending order list of the 6-8 finishers from the regionals around the nation who receive at-large bids.

With seven to eight taken from the pool of 12, Jakosky will be one of the last ones admitted to the meet.

Michelle Martin matched the fifth-place height in the high jump, but several misses knocked her down to ninth.

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