LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Three members of the Arkansas Razorback women’s track and field team punched their tickets for the NCAA Championships, in Fayetteville, in June, on day one of the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships, at Louisville’s Cardinal Park.
After five events have been scored, Arkansas leads the team race with 20 points. Southern Illinois is second with 17 and Kentucky rounds out the top three with 14 points.
Additionally, four Razorbacks put themselves in contention for an at-large bid in their respective events. Arkansas also saw two of its student-athlete advance to Saturday’s event finals.
We had a really good day,” head coach Lance Harter said. “Today is all about survival mode and qualifying for the finals or getting that top-five finish. It’s kind of like reliving the SEC meet. Jillian Rosen in the 1,500 meters and Shelise Williams in the 400 meters were our first concerns in terms of qualifying for the finals. The vault crew had a solid day with two automatic qualifiers and the potential to get one or two more into the NCAA meet. And the 5,000-meter runners took care of business.”
Junior Katie Stripling led the Arkansas vault crew with a bronze finish to punch her ticket to the NCAA meet. A two-time All-American and three-time SEC Champion, Stripling cleared 13-9.75 to lead a 3-4-6-6-13 finish for the Razorbacks.
Junior Janice Keppler cleared a personal best to earn her spot in the NCAA Championships. Her clearance of 13-5.75 earned a fourth-place finish.
"It's been rough the last few weeks," Keppler said. "I only jumped 12 feet at conference and I don't have a lot of experience jumping 13 feet. Coach (Bryan Compton) has been hard on me and I’ve been working really hard in practice to get more consistent. I'm excited to qualify for NCAAs, especially jumping at our home track. I want to keep working hard at consistency."
Sophomore Tara Diebold and freshman Tina Sutej finished tied for sixth with their clearances of 13-1.75. Senior Sarah Landau was 13th, clearing 12-10.
Senior Denise Bargiachi led the charge for Arkansas in the 5,000 meters. She finished fourth to earn her trip to the NCAA Championships. Also holding a provisional qualifier in the 10,000 meters, Bargiachi clocked a time of 16:25.38.
Senior Christine Kalmer finished ninth in the 5K with a time of 16:39.77 and sophomore Catherine White finished 11th with a time of 16:46.48. Both will likely earn at-large bids based on their season bests. Additionally, White holds the No. 6 time in the NCAA in the 10K.
Sophomore Jillian Rosen clocked the seventh-fastest 1,500-meter prelim time. She finished fourth in her heat to automatically advance to Saturday’s final. She clocked a time of 4:24.42.
Sophomore Shelise Williams remains consistent in the quarter mile. She won her heat in a time of 53.55 and finished third overall in the prelims. She automatically advanced to Saturday’s finals.
Senior Etienne Chaplin finished sixth in her heat and 26th overall in the 100-meter hurdles. She clocked a time of 14.27. Freshman Whitney Jones finished 14th in the long jump with a mark of 19-7.5. Chaplin and Jones will likely run in tomorrow’s 4x400-meter relay. Senior Lauren Lewis finished seventh in her heat and 20th overall in the 800 meters with her time of 2:12.08.
Competition at the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships will resume Saturday at 3:20 p.m. CST with Rosen in the 1,500-meter finals. For more information and complete results, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
NCAA Auto Qualifiers
Denise Bargiachi, 5,000 meters
Katie Stripling, pole vault
Janice Keppler, pole vault
Etienne Chaplin, heptathlon
NCAA Provisional Qualifiers
Denise Bargiachi, 10,000 meters
Catherine White, 10,000 meters
NCAA Potential At-Large Qualifiers
Christine Kalmer, 5,000 meters
Catherine White, 5,000 meters
Tara Diebold, pole vault
Tina Sutej, pole vault
Saturday’s Finals Qualifiers
Shelise Williams, 400 meters
Jillian Rosen, 1,500 meters