May 3, 2014
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee track and field squad won eight events Saturday at the Tennessee Challenge to conclude the regular season at Tom Black Track at LaPorte Stadium.
The afternoon was highlighted by Tavis Bailey's record-breaking performance in the discus and five individual race wins by the Lady Vols on the track.
The meet marks the last competition for Tennessee before the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which will be held May 14-17 in Lexington, Ky.
For more inside the day's meet:
BAILEY BREAKS RECORD AGAINTavis Bailey demolished his own school record in this discus with a second-place performance. His best throw of the day sailed of 211 feet, 8 inches (64.51 meters).
A junior from Kannapolis, N.C., Bailey cleared the previous mark by nine feet and topped his previous season-high throw of 202-6 (61.72 meters) last month at the Alabama Relays.
Bailey also now owns the second-furthest throw in the nation this season with a two weeks left until the conference meet.
Earlier in the day, Bailey took third in the shot put (61-1.5/18.63m). Fellow Vol Matthew Hoty was fourth in the shot put (59-7/18.16m) and fourth in the discus (168-0/51.20m)
JACKSON'S AWARD-WINNING FINAL STRETCHAs she winds down her Tennessee career, Brittany Jackson's most recent two weeks can best be described as just "award winning."
She celebrated her birthday and then collected several academic and service recognition. As an active member of the Office of Multicultural Student Life during her UT career, the communications was honored the Gene Mitchell Gray Pioneer Award for her work in promoting cultural diversity on campus. She was also recognized for her strong performance in one of her courses.
On Saturday, Jackson added to her recent run of success with a victory in the 800 meters, winning the race in 2 minutes, 8.51 seconds, just off her career-best outdoor pace.
Heading into the home stretch of her career, Jackson has put together a strong senior season so far. She scored individually for the first time at the SEC indoor championships, placing eighth in 800 meters.
In years past, Jackson often found herself the first or second runner out of the top eight in conference. She said she even surprised herself by running a personal best of 2 minutes, 8.65 seconds in the preliminaries to reach her first final.
"It brought me back to my old self, to the runner I used to be," Jackson said. "For me to be right around that area and faster, it's good. It's good to know I can hang with the big runners."
That SEC performance has given her confidence to build on as she prepares for her final SEC outdoor meet.
"I just want to go out there and run and cap my career off with a bang," Jackson said. "Hopefully that will surprise some people and put me in a good position for regionals."
BLANKENSHIP WINS AGAINJake Blankenship has had quite the week for the Big Orange on the runway.
After defending his outdoor title in his season debut at the Penn Relays last week, the sophomore vaulted almost a foot higher, setting a season-high height of 18 feet, 2.50 inches, two inches off his career best.
"I'm pretty happy with how I did," said Blankenship. "Today was good in terms of getting (used to) bigger poles, so I was happy to do that and then jump my second highest height outdoors."
After winning two events during the indoor season, Blankenship suffered a leg injury which put him out from January until last week in terms of competition. Getting back into top form is going to be a process, but Blankenship is optimistic about the last few weeks of the season.
"I look at it as I've had the whole year to rest," said Blankenship. "It's good to get these jumps in. It's all a process and it's coming along."
A WINNING DAYSophomore Felicia Brown collected Tennessee's first win of the afternoon. She crossed the finish line first in the 400-meter run in 54.73, and teammate Kianna Ruff was third in 55.68.
Freshman Emily Yarnell scored her second home victory of the season in the 100 dash. After winning the race last month at the Tennessee Relays presented by Sea Ray, she collected win No. 2 with a wind-aided time of 11.47.
Fellow freshman Felecia Majors also found her way into the winner's circle, taking first in the 200 dash in 23.53. She pulled away late from second-place Shekara Martin of Auburn (23.91) in the first heat for the victory.
Sophomore Chelsea Blaase added a fifth individual race win of the day for the Lady Vols. She won the 3,000 run in person-best time of 9:41.09.
In the field, Cassie Wertman won the shot put in 51 feet, 1.5 inches (15.58 meters).
The Lady Vols' 4x400 relay team also picked up a victory in 3:39.87 to close out the evening.