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Sports notebook: Women's track take eighth, Women's tennis falters over break

By Natalie Clericuzio     3/10/11 6:00pm

Women's track take eighth

For the first time since joining Conference USA in 2006, the women's track team placed outside of the top three teams at the C-USA Indoor Championships on Feb. 25-26, finishing eighth out of 12 teams. However, just as Head Coach Jim Bevan predicted previously, the meet was highly competitive, as only 43 points separated Rice from the second place team, the University of Tulsa. Bevan believes that if his team had been at full force, Rice's finish would have been a different story.

"We've had a lot of nicks and injuries, so we really couldn't get consistency throughout indoor, but we also had girls that didn't have indoor eligibility but have outdoor eligibility, so we'll be excited to get them back," Bevan said.

Among those returning to the team during the outdoor season are seniors Nicole Mericle, Brittany Washington and Sarah Lyons, junior Becky Wade and sophomore Halsey Fowler. Wade and Fowler redshirted during indoor due to injuries.

Although the finish at conference was not exactly what the Owls had hoped for, they still had a few standout performances. Senior Ariana Ince broke her own school record in the pole vault, 13 feet 4.25 inches, by vaulting at 13' 5.25" to win the event. Last weekend, Ince broke her new record by a centimeter at the University of Washington Qualifiers, placing fourth overall.

As he has been throughout the season, Bevan was pleased with Ince's showing at both meets.

"Well, put simply she's the best vaulter we've ever had," Bevan said. "We've won the vault the last six times at conference, so she's helping to continue that trend."

Other Owls contributing to the team's finish by scoring points for the Owls include junior Cleona Oliver, who placed sixth in the pole vault at 11' 5.75". Outside the vaulters, Sarah Agara and Kiri Kendall both scored for the Owls in the long jump. Agara jumped 40' 0.5", a season-best and placed fourth. Kendall's mark stood at 39' 0.25", also a season-best and good enough for eighth place.

Senior Tina Robinson finished seventh in the shot put, throwing a season best of 42' 9.75". Junior Keltie John came in eighth in the 800-meter run, finishing in 2:29.05 and scoring one point for the Owls.

Rice's final score in the meet stood at 33 points, while the winners, the University of Central Florida, turned in a score of 123.50. After UCF, however, Tulsa scored just 76.

- Natalie Clericuzio

Women's tennis falters over break

Unlike the majority of the student population, spring break couldn't end fast enough for the members of the women's tennis team, which amassed a 1-3 record over the break, with all three defeats coming from opponents with rankings in the top 30. The Owls (8-5) began the break with a trip to Fayetteville, Ark. to face the University of Colorado (3-5) and the 14th-ranked University of Arkansas. The Buffaloes proved to be no match for the Owls, as Rice took the doubles point by taking two of the three matches by scores of 8-4 and 8-3.

Freshman Kim Anicete kept the scoring streak alive for Rice by defeating Kristina Barber in two sets, both my margins of 6-2. Fellow freshman Dominique Harmath, junior Ana Guzman and senior Jessica Jackson had equally quick victories over their Colorado counterparts, bringing the margin to 5-0 Rice, which was one point more than needed to clinch the match. Overall, Rice lost a total of four sets to the Buffaloes in one of their most dominating performances of the season.

Unfortunately, a possible winning streak never got off the ground for Rice, which was dumped by a score of 5-2 by Arkansas (10-3) on Feb. 27. The Owls managed an 8-5 victory in the second-seeded doubles match, but that triumph by Harmath and junior Alex Rasch wasn't enough to capture the doubles point. While a 6-1, 6-2 win by the 110th-ranked Harmath in the first singles match knotted the score at one point apiece, the Razorbacks stormed back to win the next three points in the fourth-through sixth-seeded matches, losing only one set to the Owls. While Jackson won her second singles match of the weekend, the match had already been decided in favor of Arkansas, and Rice headed to Tulsa, Okla. in hopes of upsetting their conference rival, the University of Tulsa (10-2).

The 22nd-ranked Golden Hurricane never even let Rice have a chance at victory, winning the first two doubles matches by scores of 8-1 and 8-2, rendering the third-seeded match, a victory by sophomore Daniella Trigo and Jackson, meaningless. The singles matches went no better for Rice, as Tulsa captured three more quick points, with Rice's bottom three players of Trigo, Anicete and Rasch clearly being no match for Tulsa's bottom three. A 4-0 advantage meant a win was in hands for Tulsa, but the Owls managed to save face as Harmath and Jackson continued to pile up points for Rice, bringing the final score of the match to 5-2.

While Rice had kept the last two matches against higher-ranked opponents reasonably close, the wheels completely fell off against 27th-ranked Texas A&M University, which defeated Rice 7-0 in College Station on Saturday. The Owls took one match in the doubles competition, but the Aggies had already won the second- and third-seeded matches to clinch the doubles point. Still, the match ended up being somewhat closer than the final score, as five of the six singles matches went to a third set and four of those five matches saw an Owl take the first set.

The 56th ranked Owls face 75th-ranked Wake Forest today.

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