Photo Courtesy: UA Athletics (Walt Beazley)
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (Univ. of Ark.) - The No. 6 University of Arkansas women's track and field team begins postseason competition this weekend with the 2013 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championships, set for May 9-12 at Audrey J. Walton Stadium in Columbia, Mo. The Razorback women get underway Thursday at 11:30 a.m. (CT) with day one of the heptathlon.
"We're excited for this weekend," head coach Lance Harter said. "We won indoors and were a close second in cross country, so I think we have the footprint of a team that can challenge for the win. But it never gets any easier in the SEC. You're talking about the top five teams all ranked in the top 10. We'll start the meet with the multi and Makeba Alcide who is as good as any we've been able to develop at Arkansas. I think she can create some positive momentum for us to keep moving forward."
The Razorbacks have won three SEC Outdoor Championships in the program's history with first-place team performances in 2000, 2001 and 2004. Last year, Arkansas finished in third place at the outdoor conference meet in Baton Rouge, La., with 111.50 points. The team enters this weekend's meet off a victory at the SEC Indoor Championships in February.
Individually, Arkansas has collected 57 event titles since joining the SEC in 1991-92. The Razorbacks return three past champions with Alicde (heptathlon/2011), Gwendolyn Flowers (4x400m/2011) and Regina George (400m/2012, 4x400m/2010-11). The 400-meter victory by George at last year's meet was the program's first-ever outdoor title in the event.
Arkansas has a program-best eight SEC outdoor titles at 5,000 and 10,000 meters with seven wins each at 1,500 and 3,000 meters, the latter of which is no longer a championship event. In the field events, the Razorbacks have six SEC pole vault titles. Former Arkansas standout Tina Sutej owns the SEC Championships record with her collegiate-record clearance of 4.61m/15-1.5 at the 2011 conference meet in Athens, Ga.
The Razorbacks have won an SEC title in 15 of the 21 events contested at the outdoor meet. In 2001, the team had its largest single-season haul with six event titles. In addition to Sutej's meet record in the pole vault, former multi-event standout GiGi (Miller) Johnson still owns the record for the heptathlon 200 meters with her run of 23.75 at the 2001 conference meet.
Arkansas begins the championship season as the No. 6 team in this week's release of the USTFCCCA national rankings. The Razorbacks are one of five ranked teams from the SEC, all of which are positioned inside the top 10. Following this weekend's conference meet, the rest of the schedule includes the NCAA West Preliminary (May 23-25) in Austin, Texas, and the NCAA Championships (June 5-8) in Eugene, Ore.
The 2013 SEC Championships will be streamed live by ESPN3 on Saturday, May 11 from 3:40-6:45 p.m., and Sunday, May 12 from 2:50-6:45 p.m. Competition outside of the ESPN3 coverage windows will be made available on MUTigers.com. The 2013 SEC Outdoor Championships will air as part of a 90-minute show on ESPNU on Thursday, May 23 at 7 p.m.
In addition to video coverage of this weekend's meet, an interactive blog will be available with the start of competition each day.