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Manuel Ties Pole Vault Record at McDonnell Invite
Stacie Manuel         FAYETTEVILLE - Sophomore pole vaulter Stacie Manuel tied the University of Arkansas women's track team's school record on Saturday at the John McDonnell Invitational with a stellar clearance of 14 feet to lead the Lady Razorbacks.
        Manuel, who held the Arkansas record for a bit at last season's John McDonnell Invitational, was brilliant on the runway as she easily surpassed her competition, the NCAA regional qualifier and met the U.S. Olympic Trials mark. Only taking 11 jumps in the competition, Manuel passed on five heights before entering the fray at 12 feet, 9 ½ inches. Making the first three bars she attempted on her first, jump, Manuel didn't record a miss until after she had already won the competition. Manuel eventually cleared the 14-foot-mark on her third attempt and tried to go after 14-3 ½, but was unable to make the bar.
        "That was not a bad day," Arkansas assistant coach Bryan Compton said. "I thought that she could do this, she had a good week of practice and smoked 13-6 by nearly a foot. Now we just wait and see what the rest of the season brings."
        "I knew that it was a definite possibility," Manuel said of the accomplishment. "I thought that I was jumping at the trials qualifier and didn't know it was the school record. It was a goal for me to break that record and make the Olympic Trials."
        Also performing well in the pole vault were senior Jennifer (Culp) Lincoln and freshman Jodi Driggers. Each cleared season best heights at 12-9 ½ and 12-3 3/4 , respectively and also notched NCAA regional marks, bringing the Lady Razorbacks total to 12.
        While Manuel had the highlight of the day, junior hammer thrower Brandy Blackwood was also impressive in her first competition at John McDonnell Field. Blackwood threw 176-11 to take first-place-honors in the event. Blackwood's mark is another regional qualifier for the Miami, Fla., native and was nearly nine feet past her competition.
100 hurdles        Despite a gloomy day in Fayetteville, Arkansas' track athletes also managed to put together several good performances. In the hurdles, Arkansas' trio of Kasia Williams, Shaneatra Neely and Beyonka McDowell each recorded regional qualifiers during preliminary action. While their finals marks were slightly slower because of the weather conditions, each proved that they could compete with the best despite what mother nature had to throw their way.
        Arkansas' 1,500-meter runners also took care of business in the twilight of the day with fourth, fifth, eighth and ninth-place finishes. Sophomore Maureen Scott continued to excel no matter what the distance as she dropped a second off her career best in the event with a time of 4:37.05. Senior Shannon Spaulding was right behind at 4:37.54, followed by Laura Jakosky and Sarah Saffa.
        The Lady Razorbacks' near miss came in the 400-meter relay, where they took first place, but just missed the NCAA regional qualifier. A pair of sloppy exchanges in the rain probably cost the Lady Razorbacks the qualifying time, but their ability to move the baton around the track without a disqualification in their first attempt had Arkansas coaches smiling.
        For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women's athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com. Arkansas is on the road next weekend at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif.

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