Josh, Paige Farrell Both Succeed At UA

FAYETTEVILLE -- Josh Farrell and Paige Farrell of Springdale represent a unique brother-sister combination at the University of Arkansas.

Both made it to NCAA postseason competition this year -- Josh in the NCAA Golf Championships which begin today in Baltimore, Md., and Paige in last weekend's NCAA Regional Track and Field Meet in Bloomington, Ind.

Their parents, Robert and DeeGee Farrell, met at the UA in the 1970s, when Robert was a wide receiver for the Razorbacks football team and DeeGee was a cheerleader.

Sports has always been a family affair for the Farrells, who attend each other's events and offer encouragement.

"I played everything until high school," Josh said. "But I quit playing basketball after the ninth grade and football after the eighth grade to concentrate on golf."

Josh, 22, is a redshirt junior on a Razorbacks golf team otherwise composed of sophomores and freshmen. He averaged 74.7 in 18 rounds this season, including a 68 in the Taylor Made Waikoloa Tournament in Hawaii.

Paige, 19, lowered her time in the 800-meter run from 2:17 to 2:07 this season and also ran in the 4 x 400 relay at Regionals. She finished fifth in her Regional 800 heat in 2:12.71 and failed to advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, but still exceeded expectations for her freshman year.

"Paige had a phenomenal year," said UA women's assistant track coach Lonnie Greene. "You normally don't see those types of gains. Her work ethic is second to none. I'm so excited about her next three years, as she gets stronger and matures."

Josh and Paige, who took a Spanish class together at the UA last year, have formed a mutual admiration society.

"I'm not surprised by Paige's success," Josh said. "It shows the work she's put in, and how much she wants it. She beat me in that Spanish class, too."

In turn, Paige said, "Josh works harder than anybody I know. He does all the little things to get better in golf, stays after practice to work on his putting. When I was a lifeguard at Springdale Country Club, Josh would be there all day, working on every little shot."

In fact, Paige Farrell wouldn't be surprised if Josh did quite well at the NCAAs this week.

"I think he's cranked about it," Paige said. "He's been right on the verge of playing really well and going crazy."

Josh was quick to give credit to his parents.

"We come from a good family," Josh said. "My dad suggests things, and that helps a lot. He's been to nearly all my tournaments and most of Paige's meets."

Paige pointed out, "My mother is very athletic. She was a cheerleader in junior high, high school and college. She's good with the mental part of sports, and she videotapes all my races. The three or four of us sit there and critique them."

Paige Farrell's track career began when she was in the fourth grade.

"I got a slip of paper in school about a fun meet, and it ended up being a statewide meet," she recalled. "I ran in my hightops between soccer games, and I loved it."

Robert Farrell ran some track in high school at Little Rock Central, where he was mainly known for his basketball and football prowess while winning state championships with teammate Houston Nutt.

"Everyone teases my dad about his speed, but he was not slow," Paige said.

Nutt affirmed that as he walked into the Broyles Center in mid-interview last week.

"I played a lot of ball with your daddy," Nutt reminded Paige. "We had some great times."

Robert Farrell followed Paige to an indoor meet in New York this season, caught a bad cold but still was on hand in the Randal Tyson Center for the Tyson Invitational the next week, rasping his support from the stands.

Paige was a key member of several Lady'Backs successful relay teams, after a tentative beginning.

"She was so afraid indoors at first," Greene said. "But she gained confidence quickly."

Paige gave her brother some of the credit.

"We've always been close," she said. "He's part of the reason I've done so well. I've seen how his hard work has paid off."

Josh would like to see his efforts pay off even more this week.

"I haven't put three solid rounds together this year, and I've been trying to figure out why," he said. "I've made a lot of double-bogeys, and the reasons vary. I've had some penalty shots, but it hasn't just been my driver. I'd like to think I don't hit that many stupid shots."

Josh hopes to put four good rounds together this week. For that to happen, Arkansas must survive the 54-hole cut to 15 teams on Friday.

"I've had the mindset of wanting to get better," Josh said. "My short game has gotten a lot better from practicing at the Blessings Golf Club this year."

A business marketing major, Josh Farrell needs just 12 hours next fall and nine more next spring to get his UA degree.

With Paige around for moral support, that should be a snap.

"We help each other with homework," she said.

Josh never ran track as a kid, but takes credit for Paige's speed because "she was always chasing me around."

In kind, Paige found golf "too slow" to pursue.

Both seem to have found their niche.

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