COLUMBIA, Mo. – The sixth-ranked Arkansas women’s track and field team is in first place after day three of the 2013 SEC Outdoor Championships.
The Razorbacks have tallied 50 points through eight events. Grace Heymsfield led the Razorbacks’ efforts Saturday with a title run in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, breaking the SEC Championships meet record in the process.
Arkansas totaled 21 points in the steeplechase behind the performances of Heymsfield, Jessica Kamilos and Shannon Klenke. The Razorbacks also picked up points from the field events with the high jump and pole vault. Saturday marked the end of qualifying rounds, and through the last two days of preliminary heats, the team collected seven event finalists.
Arkansas will have scoring chances in 11 of the 13 events Sunday.
Heymsfield became the fifth Razorback in program history to win an SEC title in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, and the first to do so since 2006. Navigating a misstep at the water jump earlier in the race, the Elkins, Ark., native charged past Leslie Boozer of Georgia down the home stretch to post a new meet-record and personal-best time of 10:01.74. Heymsfield bested the six-year-old SEC Championships record by nearly 12 seconds.
The Razorbacks were also boosted by respective third- and fourth-place finishes by Kamilos and Klenke. Kamilos lowered her own previous personal best by more than five seconds, crossing the line in 10:10.11. That time was also better than the previous meet record. The redshirt freshman now owns the fifth-fastest time in school history. Klenke rounded out the team’s scoring in the event with a time of 10:19.39, the second-fastest effort of her career.
“We knew coming into the race that we had a lot of scoring potential for the team,” Heymsfield said following the race. “I know all of us wanted to deliver and are thrilled about what we were able to do. I knew what was expected of me and I had to come through. (The school record) was the last thing on my mind. Going into this, I knew I really wanted that school record but as soon as I fell, my immediate thought was to get back up and place. I knew how much those points were going to mean for the team.”
Arkansas scored eight points between the high jump and pole vault, the women’s first two scoring events of the afternoon. Returning from her win in the heptathlon, Makeba Alcide finished fifth in the high jump with a final clearance of 1.80m/5-10.75. Teammate Kirsten Hesseltine posted a best of 1.75m/5-8.75 to tie for eighth place. Over in the pole vault, Danielle Nowell finished with a clearance of 3.95m/12-11.5 to tie for fifth.
The team’s first qualifiers of the day were Stephanie Brown at 1,500 meters and Ivanique Kemp in the 100-meter hurdles. Brown secured automatic placement into Sunday’s final with her top-three finish in the opening heat of the 1,500 meters. She had the 12th-fastest overall time. Kemp posted a wind-aided time of 13.10 to win her heat of the 100-meter hurdles to advance to the event final. She was the event runner-up last season.
Regina George and Sparkle McKnight turned in the top-two time during Saturday’s preliminary round of the 400 meters to ease into Sunday’s final. George was the top overall qualifier with a time of 52.91, while McKnight followed closely in 53.02. Both Razorbacks will have two individual races Sunday with George already qualified at 200 meters and McKnight entered in the 400-meter hurdles.
In addition to the team’s collection of qualifiers, Sunday’s schedule will also feature scoring opportunities at 5,000 meters, in the 4x100- and 4x400-meter relays, triple jump and javelin.