Jan. 23, 2010
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- The University of Tennessee track & field program produced its first NCAA automatic qualifiers of the young season on Saturday at Rector Field House, and it added three victories and an NCAA provisional improvement on the final day of the Virginia Tech Hokie Invitational.
The Lady Vols now have two accepted into the NCAA Indoor meet and three other provisional qualifiers. The Vols, meanwhile, have senior Evander Wells provisionally qualified in the 60- and 200-meter dashes after two meets where Tennessee did not back off its training prior to competing.
"The objective for us is to stay healthy and move forward," UT Director of Track & Field said. "We have to put marks on the board to get to the NCAA meet, and we have to get our team ready for SECs. We're doing that, and the teams are definitely coming together as a unit."
Phoebe Wright, the defending SEC indoor and outdoor champion and 2009 NCAA Indoor runner-up in the 800 meters, moved to the front of the national qualifying list with an automatic clocking of two minutes, 4.00 seconds in her specialty event. The only other runner within four seconds of the UT senior was sophomore teammate Chanelle Price, who pushed Wright and also met the auto standard with a runner-up and career-best indoor effort of 2:04.72. They both earned the right to compete in the NCAA Indoor Championships, which will be held March 12-13 in Fayetteville, Ark.
"We wanted to go out there and to get a time that could get us to the NCAA meet," Clark said. "I didn't care what they did, as long as they put a mark on the board that advanced them to Fayetteville, and that is what they did today. I feel good about the effort they put forth, and we look forward to good things in the future."
Shortly after Wright's victory, Tennessee made it a clean sweep of the 800 titles when junior Vol Peter Sigilai covered the distance in an indoor career best time of 1:51.65 that ranks No. 4 in the SEC this season. Sigilai, who was just a little over a second shy of the NCAA provisional mark, held off the 1:52.46 readout of St. Augustine's George Smith for the victory.
After finishing second at the Kentucky Invitational last weekend, junior Annie Alexander bounced back to claim her first victory of 2010 in the women's shot put and the eighth of her career indoors. Her measurement of 54-7 1/2 was a quarter inch improvement of her NCAA provisional mark, which ranks her fourth in the nation thus far.
Sophomore Desmond Brown continued to display improvement in the men's long jump, soaring to a career-best of 24-4 1/2 to secure fourth place and come within 2 3/4 inches of the provisional mark.
Tennessee also posted top-five finishes in three relays. The women improved their 4x400m relay season best by two seconds to place fourth in 3:42.80 with Ellen Wortham, Wright, Price and Charity Honeycutt carrying the baton. The men's distance medley relay combination of Michael Spooner, Varick Tucker, Leoule Degfae and Mike Brodsky crossed the line fifth in 10:10.99, while the Vols' 4x4 tandem of John Hewitt, Samdi Fraser, Terrance Livingston and Kyle Stevenson took fifth in 3:13.90.
Sophomore Ben Bartholomew, who joined the squad from the football team, debuted with a sixth-place toss of 53-11 3/4 in the shot put. That mark ranks the Nashville/Montgomery Bell Academy product fourth on the SEC top performers list this season. Another sophomore, Robert Rasnick, added a sixth-place finish in the pole vault, clearing the bar in a career indoor best of 16-3 1/2 to tie for the third best mark in the SEC in 2010.
Wortham continued to have a nice meet individually for the UT women after finishing seventh in the 60m Friday night, coming back to snare sixth in the long jump on day two with a career-best leap of 19-0 3/4. Freshman Kia Jackson was seventh at 18-10 3/4, as the duo moved to No. 5 and No. 6 on the SEC top performances list in 2010.
In other results, freshman Tyler Stepp tied for sixth in the high jump at 6-8 1/4; Tucker was the best of four Vols in the 400 meters, taking seventh in 48.93; Stevenson reported in ninth in the 200 meters at 21.88; and sophomore Elizabeth Tiller was ninth in the women's 5000 meters in 19:04.30.
After moving to No. 3 among the Vols' all-time performers in the 600m on Friday night, sophomore Emerson Peacock came back Saturday to take 10th in the 1000m in 2:30.62, followed closely by classmate Joe Franklin in 11th at 2:31.09.
"I liked the effort that the team put out," Clark said. "We need to keep our noses to the grindstone and continue the progress. It's not easy, and we just can't let up right now."
Tennessee will go back at it next weekend, splitting up to compete in three different meets. The majority of the squad will travel to University Park, Pa., for the Penn State National Invitational on Jan. 29-30. The Big Orange also will have contingents in Lexington, Ky., for the Rod McCravy Memorial on Jan. 29-30, and in Norman, Okla., for the J.D. Martin Invitational on Jan. 30.
SATURDAY UT MEN'S RESULTS
800m: 1. Peter Sigilai, 1:51.65!
200m: 9. Kyle Stevenson, 21.88
High Jump: t6. Tyler Stepp, 6-8.25/2.04m
Shot Put: 6. Ben Bartholomew, 53-11.75/16.45m!
Pole Vault: 6. Robert Rasnick, 16-3.50/4.97m!
SATURDAY UT WOMEN'S RESULTS
5000m: 9. Elizabeth Tiller, 19:04.30!
400m: 15. Jená Murphy, 58.27!; 25. Kim White, 59.79; 29. Charity Honeycutt, 1:00.24
800m: 1. Phoebe Wright, 2:04.00!*; 2. Chanelle Price, 2:04.72!*; 7. Jackie Areson, 2:13.48
200m: 12. Kia Jackson, 24.74!; 13. Ashley Harris, 24.82; 32. Chardae Hancock, 26.35; 33. Janea Grimes 26.38
1000m: 15. Michele Levy, 3:07.02!
4x400mR: 4. Ellen Wortham / Phoebe Wright / Chanelle Price / Charity Honeycutt, 3:42.80; DNF. Kim White / Jená Murphy / Ashley Harris / Kirstyn Sweeney
High Jump: NM. Kirstyn Sweeney, F
Shot Put: 1. Annie Alexander, 54-7.50/16.65m; 12. Laquoya Kelly, 41-4.25/12.60m
Long Jump: 6. Ellen Wortham, 19-0.75/5.81m; 7. Kia Jackson, 18-10.75/5.76m
FRIDAY UT MEN'S RESULTS
Weight Throw: 15. Drew Thomas, 51-5.50/15.68m
FRIDAY UT WOMEN'S RESULTS
3000m: 24. Ally Colvin, 11:01.56
60mH Prelims: 20. Chardae Hancock, 9.09p; 34. Kirstyn Sweeney, 12.71
60m Dash Finals: 7. Ellen Wortham, 7.58!
60m Dash Prelims: ADV. Ellen Wortham, 7.59p! (8th; 2nd, ht. 2); 11. Kia Jackson, 7.61p! (2nd, ht. 6); 15. Ashley Harris, 7.68p (1st, ht. 5); 29. Janea Grimes, 8.08p (5th, ht. 2)
Mile Run: 1. Jackie Areson, 4:43.85!+; 8. Brittany Sheffey, 4:55.93; 19. Michele Levy, 5:15.65!; 33. Andrea Ferri, 5:37.42!; 36. Elizabeth Tiller, 5:40.54!
600m: 12. Charity Honeycutt, 1:36.92!; 15. Kim White, 1:37.54!
300m: 10. Jená Murphy, 40.75!; 26. Kirstyn Sweeney, 43.59!
Weight Throw: 6. Jessie Harrison, 54-4.50/16.57m!; 9. Laquoya Kelly, 51-11.75/15.84m!; 26. Taylor Rotella, 41-9.25/12.73m; NM. Akeela Bravo, F
! - Personal best, * - NCAA automatic qualifier, + - NCAA provisional qualifier, ADV. - Advanced to next round, DNF - Did not finish, DQ - Disqualified, F - Foul, m - meters, NM - No Mark, p - prelims