Current, Former Lady'Backs Fare Well

FAYETTEVILLE — "It was like old times," Arkansas senior pole vaulter Jodi Unger said after watching former UA vaulter April Steiner clear 14 feet, 9 inches for a facility record in the John McDonnell Invitational on Saturday.

Veronica Campbell, another Lady'Backs blast from the past, announced her return from a quadriceps injury last year by blazing to a 22.39 win in the 200-meter dash. "That's amazing," Arkansas coach Lance Harter said as Campbell broke the tape. "She just said, ‘Hey, rest of the world, I'm back and I'm healthy.'" Oh, and the current Lady Razorbacks did pretty well, too. They had 14 NCAA Regional qualifying marks, or improvements on previous qualifiers. Unger, who cleared 13-5 1/4 in the pole vault, said, "I'm just so excited to clear a solid bar. This is the first time I've competed in a month, because of the weather." Arkansas freshman Katie Stripling of Jonesboro had a career-best 13-1 1/4 to tie teammate Stephanie Irwin for third place behind Steiner and Unger. "I'm really excited for Katie, because I see her clear 13 feet every day in practice," Unger said. Harter was happy for several reasons. "The kids are cashing in with their performances today," he said. "Everyone is healthy and we got a beautiful day. In Europe, you'd have to pay $100,000 in appearance money to get athletes like Campbell and Wallace Spearmon to come. They set a great example by coming back here to their school." Steiner, a four-time All-American, former NBC "Fear Factor" winner and Olympic hopeful, narrowly missed matching her career record of 15-1 1/2. Arkansas associate head coach Lonnie Greene commended Jessica Cousins (23.07 in the 200), Tominque Boatright (23.30), Sasha Rolle (23.62, plus a career-best 53.46 in winning the 400), Makeatha Cooper (13.33 in the 100 hurdles) and LaKeisha Martin (23.47 in the 200, 11.55 in the 100) for their qualifying marks. Martin, Peter-Gay Beckford, Boatright and Cousins won the 4x100 in 44.63 — fifth fastest time in school history — outrunning Oklahoma (44.70). The ultra-busy Martin even ran the third leg on the 4x400 relay team, which also had a qualifying mark. "Our sprinters did well across the board," Greene said. Carly Bloomfield of Arkansas won the javelin with a regional-qualifying 155-8, followed by Beckford at 153-3. "I wanted to throw 50 meters," Bloomfield said. "But it was nice to see our team improve so many regional marks." In the 3,000 meters, an event not included in the NCAA meet, Whitney Kerth of UALR won in 10:14.25 and freshman Miranda Walker of Arkansas was second in 10:19.63. Former Lady'Back Erica Sigmont Fountain won the 800 in 2:06.72. Dacia Barr of Arkansas qualified in 2:08.45, but Paige Farrell of Springdale struggled to a 2:14.02. Toni Smith of Oklahoma won the long jump at 20-1 3/4 and the triple jump at 43-10. Latonia Wilson of Louisiana Tech took the 100-meter dash in 11.13. Christina Roadman of Robert Morris won the discus at 151-3. In the hammer throw, Jessica Selby of Missouri State won at 167-8, followed by Arkansas junior Michelle Rossio at 160-9. Jessica Potter, a Fayetteville High sophomore, won three high school events with personal bests: the 100 hurdles in 16.06, the 300 hurdles in 51.69 and the high jump at 5-3. Her high-jump mark would have tied Arkansas' Etienne Chaplin for fifth place in the college division. Courtney Efurd of Rogers took the 1,600 meters in 5:22.51. Brooke Campbell of Fayetteville won the 100 dash in 12.14, Kayla Middlebrook of Bentonville won the 400 in 1:00.83 and Erin Gatling of Van Buren took the 800 in 2:16. Bentonville broke its own state record in winning the 4x800 relay in 9:38.05.

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