Friday, January 29, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Weeks twins once again top vaulters

Leader sports editor

FAYETTEVILLE — Razorback freshman pole-vaulter Alexis Weeks won the Razorback Invitational on Friday at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville with a jump of 4.43 meters (14-feet, 6-1/4 inches). It was her second win in three collegiate meets.

Her twin sister Victoria took second place with her best performance as a college athlete, clearing 4.33 meters (14-2-1/2), which qualifies her for the NCAA nationals.

Alexis Weeks suffered a scary start. The Cabot graduate, who already has the top collegiate vault in the nation this year, missed her first two jumps at her entry height of 3.98 meters, but, after clearing that height, went on to her second victory.

She finished second at New Mexico University last week to professional Nike athlete Mary Saxer, who competed unattached.

Alexis Weeks may have been slowed Friday by a nagging injury that kept her from vaulting in practice this week.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever done that,” Alexis Weeks said about missing her first two jumps. “That was scary. I’ve never no-heighted before. I was just coming up way short on it. I had the height. I was just coming down on top of it. I wasn’t getting depth into the mat.”

She has been nursing hamstring and lower back stiffness and hasn’t done any actual jumping since the meet in Albuquerque, but doesn’t think the injuries are serious.

“I just think it’s my body getting used to all the new training and taking so many more jumps than I used to. I think it’ll be fine.”

After Tori Weeks missed on her attempt at 4.33, Lexi took three shots at improving her personal best of 14-9 set two weeks ago, which is also the highest collegiate jump of the year so far.

Her second attempt at 14-10 1/2 was high enough, but again she came down on the bar. Lexi Weeks has a goal this season of clearing 15-feet.

“My second jump at the last height, I felt I had the height to get 15 but I came up short again,” Lexi Weeks said. “But I think I have it in me.”

Tori Weeks had a goal of 4.28 meters to qualify for the NCAA nationals, so considers her 4.33 a strong performance. Her personal best is 14-7, or 4.45 meters.

“I had a good day today,” said Tori Weeks. “My goal was to jump high enough to qualify for nationals and I did even a little better than that. So now I can breathe a little bit and maybe compete a little more relaxed. I didn’t jump that well in New Mexico, so I really wanted to come in here and have a good day today.

“I guess my goal next week will be 14-6 and just inch up there. My goal for the season is 14-9 and qualify for the (Olympics) trials. I think I have it in me. I just need to work on some things. I’ve kind of been conservative in the box and I need to just hit it harder.”

Fifth-year senior Ariel Voskamp, also from Cabot, did not have her best day, but still finished sixth overall with a jump of 3.98 meters.

Oklahoma freshman McKenzie Shell finished third with a jump of 4.18 meters.

Arkansas senior Megan Zimlich and University of Georgia junior Georgia Stefanidi each cleared 4.08 meters to finish fourth and fifth.

UCLA freshman Greta Wagner and Texas A&M sophomore Sara Kathryn Stevens rounded out the scoring by placing seventh and eighth, respectively.

The Razorback Women, ranked No. 1 nationally, will travel to College Station, Texas for the Texas A&M Invitational next weekend before returning to Fayetteville to host the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 12 and 13.