Denton Captures 800 Meters For Lady'Backs

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Aneita Denton won the women's 800-meter race in 2:02.84 at the NCAA Track and Field Championships on Saturday night, becoming the first Lady Razorback to take two NCAA titles in the same school year.

Denton, who also won the 800 indoors, said she was oblivious to a collision between a BYU runner and a Nebraska runner behind her near the finish line.

"Man, it's about time we got some good news," said Arkansas women's coach Lance Harter, who had watched nine of 11 UA athletes fail to score.

Stacie Manuel gave Arkansas a tie for seventh in the pole vault at 13-5 1/4, worth one point. So the Lady'Backs met pre-meet projections with 11 points, good for a 22nd-place tie with Colorado State.

Texas, by winning the concluding 4x400 relay in 3:27.13, won the meet with 55 points. UCLA and 4x400 runner-up South Carolina tied for second with 48 points and Tennessee was fourth with 40.

Beyonka McDowell of Arkansas had an off day in the heptathlon, long-jumping just 18-2, throwing the javelin 99-11 and finishing last in the 800-meter run in 2:43.30 for 24th place overall.

Amy Yoder was the only other Lady'Back with two NCAA titles, but she earned them in different years.

"Aneita is ready to really run fast," Harter said. "When she gets in an international race with no prelims, she'll break two minutes."

Denton agreed.

"I can run two-flat," she said. "My body just hasn't been there before. But this win is so good for me. I was boxed in at 200 meters and they wouldn't let me out, but I didn't panic."

Harter had spoken earlier in the week about Denton's ability to win with different strategies.

"Tonight she was really patient," he said. "I'm not sure anyone else in the women's NCAA has won both the indoor and outdoor 800 in the same year."

Manuel, who cleared both 13-3 and 13-5 1/4 cleanly, made one good attempt at 13-9 before bowing out of a competition that Kate Soma of Washington eventually won with 14-1 1/4 despite breaking a pole.

"I had an OK day," said Manuel, now a three-time All-American. "This is the first time I've made it through a year healthy. We've learned what kind of training works for me."

Bryan Compton, Manuel's coach, said, "As fast and strong as Stacie is, she'll figure it out and be one of the top dogs the next two years."

Amy Linnen of Kansas, who was denied by the Southeastern Conference in her attempt to transfer to Arkansas last year, finished third in the pole vault, also at 14-1 1/4.

"Our commissioner ruled that you have to pass college algebra to transfer to an SEC school," Harter recalled. "In the Big 12, you can take algebra after you get there."

McDowell, who transferred to Arkansas after attending both Cal State Northridge and Sacramento City College, said, "I had quite a few people here to see me today, but I'm not going to beat myself up over a bad day. I tweaked my right knee during the long jump warmup, and I was apprehensive."

Ironically, McDowell said her strained left quadriceps finally felt fine on Saturday.

Lela V. Nelson of Eastern Michigan won the heptathlon with 5,878 points. McDowell, who had amassed 5,518 points in her only other heptathlon at the SEC meet, slipped to 5,039 this time.

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