FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas' Katie Stripling entered the NCAA Outdoor Championships with hopes of winning the school's first pole vault national title.
But the junior had to settle for something else: All-American honors for the second straight season.
Stripling, who was one of the favorites to win the title entering the event, finished fifth in the pole vault while teammate Sarah Landau also notched an eighth-place finish at John McDonnell Field on Friday night.
"I felt good, I just got nervous," Stripling said. "But this is just about being an All-American. It's still good."
Stripling, the 2009 Southeastern Conference indoor and outdoor champion, ran into trouble at an unexpected height midway through the competition.
Stripling, who holds the school record at 14 feet, 5 1/4 inches, missed on her first two attempts at the 13-5 1/4 mark. She slid over the bar on her third attempt to stay in the competition, but her night ended when she couldn't clear again at 14-5 1/4.
Indiana State's Kylie Hutson, who also won the indoor title, was the only one of six competitors to clear the final bar at 14-5 1/4. Stripling finished fifth because of the total misses she accumulated during the event.
"We had as good a chance at making it as anybody out here," Arkansas pole vault coach Bryan Compton said. "We just didn't put any good jumps together."
However, Compton wasn't disappointed with the results.
Stripling did secure four points for Arkansas. Landau, a senior, notched All-American honors and a personal best after clearing the bar at 13-9 1/4.
"She probably would've been fourth place last year," Compton said of Landau. "But this is a tough event. There's some really good jumpers."
The pole vault wrapped up a busy day for the Arkansas women's team.
Sophomore sprinter Shelise Williams qualified for today's 400-meter final by finishing fourth in her semifinal heat. Distance runner Denise Bargiachi finished 11th in the 5,000. Senior Etienne Chaplin climbed as high as seventh in the heptathlon after five events, before settling for 12th.
Williams accomplished her goal of reaching today's final of the 400, finishing fourth in her semifinal heat with a time of 52.8 seconds. It wasn't easy, though.
Arkansas coach Lance Harter said Williams was a little too aggressive from the start and it caught up with the sophomore down the stretch. But Williams had enough to gut out the last 80 yards to secure a spot.
"She had to really work," Harter said. "I tell you, Shelise is unique because she's just so tough. She has kind of that distance mentality where when you've got to dig deep. That's what got her to the final."
Harter said it was an impressive run for Williams, who was in the same heat with title favorites Hampton's Francena McCrory and Texas A&M's Jessica Beard.
"It hurt to get there, but then again, it feels good," said Williams, who needed a few minutes to recover before talking to reporters. "Words can't describe how I feel right now. ... underneath all the pain."
Stripling finishes fifth in vault
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