Women’s track looks to freshmen

With several freshmen on the team, head women’s track and field coach Patty Vavra said there has been a lot of teaching and learning going on all year.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions because there are so many new people on the team,” Vavra said.

The team lost nine to graduation in the last year. All the jumpers, hurdlers and pole vaulters are newcomers to the program.

“They have talent, but freshmen are freshmen,” Vavra said. “They got hit with a lot of new things and teachings. They’re a great group. They work hard.”

Lone senior Sarah Wallace agreed and also said if the team keeps this up and keeps the injuries under control, they should be pretty good this season.

Vavra said she was glad the newcomers got a chance to “get their feet wet” in the great facility at Arkansas. She said they had some very good competition.

Some of the Lions rose to challenge of the competition and did well.

Vavra said the throwers have been a bright spot in the team.

Junior Jessica Selby led the group the last two weeks in the shot put and the weight throw. At the Razorback Invitational Jan. 19, she threw a fifth-place mark of 46-11.00. The mark has placed her third in the nation in the event. Selby then threw a provisional mark of 53-11.75 in the weight throw for third place. She was followed by three of her teammates in the finals. Sophomore Cortney Vie finished seventh with 48-06.75. Junior Amanda Littlefield came in ninth with a throw of 47-08.50. Sophomore Jessica Self took tenth with 47-08.00.

“Jessica is backed by very good throwers as well,” Vavra said.

Selby said her throwing team is “chock-full of potential.”

With good starting performances at Arkansas and strong team chemistry, Selby is confident of their success in the conference.

“We’ll be really good by conference,” she said. “Especially in the weight throw we should score several points.

“People will know who we are.”

Selby, who is tied for third nationally in the shot put, said she is glad for the gradual improvement.

“I’m confident, but trying not to expect too much of myself,” she said. “Sometimes expectations make you fall apart. I found that out last year.”

Southern also had good showings from the 800M and up runners.

Junior Alison Walker ran 2:22.76 in the 800M, not quite as good as the previous week’s time of 2:17.95 at the Arkansas Invitational, but still good for ninth place.

Sophomore Krista Merrill placed fifth in the 3000M run with a time of 10:58.80. Freshman Kimi Shank took eighth in the 5000M run with a time of 18:39.13. Freshman Ashley Bunch followed in 10th with 19:19.

“We put in a lot of hard work last semester,” Wallace said. “I think it’ll pay off come conference time.”

This week, Vavra is glad for the chance for the freshmen to compete at home at the Fazoli’s/Baymont Inn Invitational on Friday and Saturday.

“They have a pretty bright future ahead,” she said. “It just matters if they endure and persevere through the challenges, changes, technique and just the demands of college track and field.”