NCAA Women’s Champs — Arkansas Adds Outdoor Title

First-year head coach Chris Johnson (third from right) added an Outdoor win to the Razorbacks’ Indoor triumph, capping it with a phenomenal relay performance. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

EUGENE, OREGON, June 06-08 — Rookie seasons don’t come any better than this. First-year Arkansas head coach Chris Johnson had big shoes to fill with the departure of Lance Harter. Winning the Indoor in March might be chalked up to beginner’s luck, riding on the momentum of all that had come before he took the reins.

Yet the victory that unfolded at this year’s outdoor championships bore the unmistakable stamp of Johnson’s handiwork. The Razorbacks, narrowly favored over Florida, captured this title with a novel formula. Only 10 points came from the distances. But a massive 45 came from the 400/400H crew.

“This is the Arkansas way,” said Johnson. “We could be strong in one event this year and another one next year. We want to push, we do not want to settle. We want to push to the next and having the right staff, the right athletes, and the right attitudes creates something special.”

There were, of course, mini-disasters along the way. Rachel Glenn, the Collegiate Record holder in the high jump, didn’t score a point in that. However, a lot more went right than went wrong. Glenn scored 6 in the 400H, in which she became a force this spring. Unlooked-for points came from 100 hurdler Destiny Huven and steeplechaser Laura Taborda, among others.

However, to say the long sprint crew overachieved is an exercise in understatement. They rewrote the history books. It’s hard to say which was the most earth-shaking accomplishment, going 1-2-3-4 in the one-lapper, all under 50 seconds? Or that 3:17.96 relay, comprised of the same four individuals? Both will be among the moments that meet-goers will fondly remember in years to come, prefaced with the words, “I was there when…”

Johnson made it clear it was more than those four that won the meet. “Everybody on the team is important. Destiny [Huven] is probably the biggest one to step up [and] obviously Rachel Glenn. In the steeplechase, Laura Taborda just ran out of her mind. Sydney [Thorvaldson] in the 10K — this team is just well rounded. They competed tough. We knew the plan coming in, but to be able to execute that under this stress and this level of competition, we can’t be any more happy.”

Defender Florida fought a hard fight, tallying an amazing 59 points before simply running out of athletes after the 5000, holding the lead going into the final relay. With no entry in the race, the Gator women could only watch with conflicted emotion.

Before the Saturday finals, Johnson said of his talk with his athletes. “I told them, ‘Let’s go out and give it your best for your teammates, because this team will never be quite the same. This is a special team and let’s enjoy it and compete for each other.’ And I think they did that.”


1. Arkansas 63;

2. Florida 59;

3. Texas 41;

4. Oregon 40½;

5. Mississippi 38;

6. LSU 31;

7. tie, Texas Tech & Alabama 26;

9. Nebraska 25½;

10. tie, Texas A&M, USC & Georgia 25;

13. Stanford 24; 14. Oklahoma State 23; 15. South Carolina 22; 16. Illinois 20; 17. Notre Dame 18; 18. tie, Michigan & Colorado State 15; 20. Washington 14½; 21. Rice 14; 22. Louisville 13; 23. tie, Vanderbilt & Harvard 12; 25. Providence 11; 26. Baylor 10½; 27. tie, Rutgers, Texas State & Washington State 10;

30. tie, Tennessee, Colorado & Georgetown 9; 33. tie, Charlotte & Houston 8; 35. Minnesota 7; 36. tie, San José State, UCF & Iowa State 6; 39. BYU 5½; 40. tie, TCU, Virginia, Ball State & Cal Baptist 5; 44. Oklahoma 4½; 45. tie, Ohio State, Penn, Penn State & VCU 4; 49. Villanova 3½; 50. tie, Missouri, SMU & UCLA 3; 53. Kentucky 2½; 54. tie, Louisiana-Monroe, Virginia Tech & Florida State 2; 57. tie, Miami, North Carolina State, Northern Arizona, UTSA & Duke 1.