Feb. 27, 2011
Joe Berry's winning vault at the SEC Indoor meet.
By Eric Trainer
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Senior Jackie Areson snapped a 24-year-old conference record to lead a one-two-three Lady Vol sweep in the women's 3000 meters, and senior Joe Berry seized yet another SEC title in the men's pole vault to pace Tennessee on Saturday at the SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
After two days of action and thanks to 24 points in the 3000 meters in the final event of the evening, the UT women stand atop the leader board with 36 points. LSU is second with 29, followed by Arkansas (25), Kentucky (24) and Georgia (21) rounding out the top five. On the men's side, the Vols used 12.33 points in the pole vault to tally 16.33 points after five events scored. Florida (41) and Arkansas (39) currently reside in the top two positions heading into the final day of competition.
Areson and teammates Liz Costello and Brittany Sheffey closed the day in splendid fashion for the Big Orange, accomplishing a sweep of the top three positions in the 3K. Areson left little doubt whether she would win, setting the tone early and running away from the field midway through the 15-lap race. She finished in nine minutes, 10.49 seconds, toppling the 1987 mark of 9:15.69 set by Kentucky's Lisa Breiding. She also delivered UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark a sixth SEC women's 3K champion in the past seven years, joining the ranks of Brooke Novak (2004), Felicia Guliford (2005) and Sarah Bowman (2007, 2008, 2009).
"It was sort of the plan (to win and break the record), so I wasn't shocked or surprised or anything," Areson said. "I was just happy I completed my task. I have another race tomorrow (distance medley relay), so I am just happy it went the way I wanted it to go."
Costello, who transferred to UT to pursue a master's degree and a final year of eligibility, ran second to Areson nearly the entire race and earned runner-up acclaim in 9:16.14. Sheffey, who was second in this event as a sophomore in 2010, finished third in 9:26.75 after some early-race congestion provided all three UT runners with some moments of anxiety and created a bit of separation.
"It's awesome," Areson said of being able to join her 3K teammates to give her squad a huge splurge of points to end the evening. "Yeah, that was our goal going in. We did it, but in a very different way than we thought. Our plan was to run together the whole way, but the crazy pushing in the beginning threw out our plan, so it was nice to turn around and see that they (Costello and Sheffey) got second and third. It was fun."
"Obviously, it's very satisfying, but more importantly we were able to score points for our team," Clark said. "It's very gratifying to take one-two-three, because I've never done that before. People say that I'm an `800 coach', but I've never done that in the 800, so maybe I'm a 3K coach," Clark said as he chuckled.
"In all seriousness, it's a great feeling for Jackie to break a 24-year-old record. It shows you how good she was (tonight), because she broke it fairly easily, and she had just a good run today. There were really a lot of athletes in that race, probably too many, and there was a lot of bumping and pushing in the beginning. Jackie just took the lead and never looked back."
In the men's pole vault, senior Joe Berry completed a fantastic comeback from injury in winning his second SEC Indoor title and the fourth overall crown. After redshirting outdoors a year ago due to leg problems and contemplating doing the same indoors this season, Berry is no doubt glad he pressed onward in 2011. The league runner-up indoors in 2008, champion in 2009 and eighth-place finisher a year ago, he cleared 17 feet, 7 1/2 inches on Saturday to hand UT its 18th all-time indoor win in the vault and fifth in six years.
Berry came in with the bar at 16-5 1/2 and flawlessly cleared that height as well as 16-11 1/2, 17-3 1/2 and 17-7 1/2 on his first attempts. That perfection until the final challenge, which stood at 17-10 1/4, enabled him to collect first-place honors over LSU's Marcus McGehee, who also successfully navigated 17-7 1/2 but took two attempts to get over that bar as well as the one at 16-11 1/2. Vol teammates junior Robert Rasnick and redshirt freshman Chase Brannon also kicked in points, with Rasnick taking seventh at 16-11 1/2 and Brannon clearing a career-best 16-5 1/2 to tie for eighth.
"Jumping close to an indoor PR (17-8 1/2) was awesome, but I don't care if I jump 11 feet or 18-6, I'm going to take the win, and that's what I did," Berry said. "My coach is pumped (volunteer assistant Russ Johnson), and I'm pumped. I am really excited and happy that I could pull together for the Vols and try to get my team pumped up."
"That was big," Clark said. "Joe Berry is a competitor and he has proven that. He had a down year last year with an injury, but he's come back in great form. His coach, Russ Johnson, does a great job with him. Rasnick and Brannon scored in that group, and they just did a great job in getting the team excited, because they were before the 3K, even. They got us a big 12 points to get us on the road."
The UT men also produced points in the long jump, where freshman Justin Hunter finished fifth. Also a wide receiver on the Vol football team, Hunter stretched the tape measure to 25-4 on his fifth attempt to become a point contributor in his initial SEC meet. Sophomore Desmond Brown made the final as well, but his mark of 24-9, with his fifth jump, as well, was only good enough for ninth.
Also breaking into the scoring column on day two for the Lady Vols were sophomore Jessie Harrison, who took sixth in the weight throw with a career-best toss of 60-8 1/2 on her final attempt; junior Ellen Wortham, who followed Friday's third-place effort in the pentathlon with a sixth-place clearance of 5-6 in the high jump on Saturday; and sophomore Kia Jackson, who turned in an effort of 18-11 1/4 to toss in a point to the Lady Vol cause.
In the men's heptathlon, sophomore Kevin Carney moved into 10th place after the pole vault, but due to injury he was unable to run the 1000 meters to close out the the two-day, seven-event competition. His point total wound up at 3,863, but his official result will be a DNF, denoting did not finish.
In preliminary round action, Tennessee advanced nine to final events on Sunday, six for the Vols and three for the Lady Vols.
In the sprints, Big Orange redshirt freshman Dentarius Locke earned lanes in two races at his first SEC meet. In the men's 60m dash prelims, the Vol speedster clocked in second in heat one and third-best of the qualifiers in 6.67. He returned to the track later in the day and moved along in the 200 meters, circling the banked oval in a career-best 21.02 for the No. 6 readout in the prelims.
In the 60m hurdles, sophomore Terry Benson was an automatic qualifier for Sunday, logging a personal record of 8.15 to finish third in heat one and eighth fastest of the advancers. In the mile, redshirt freshman Jordan Chaney also moved along, logging a six-second PR of 4:10.34 to nab the 10th and final qualifying spot.
The Vols and Lady Vols combined for five qualifiers in the 800 meters. On the women's side, returning SEC runner-up and owner of the league's fastest time this season at that distance Chanelle Price posted the No. 2 qualifying mark at 2:07.42. Also moving along with her to Sunday's money race were sophomore transfer Nijgia Snapp, fifth fastest at 2:09.21, and freshman Kianna Ruff, ninth among qualifiers at 2:10.58.
In the men's 800, senior Peter Sigilai and junior Joe Franklin moved along. Sigilai cruised through the preliminary round in 1:50.94 to post the No. 3 qualifying time. Franklin, meanwhile, earned passage as the ninth and final qualifier at 1:51.98. Franklin was sixth a year ago and third in 2009.
"We're going to try and score as many points as possible," Clark said about the final day. "We have people in the 5K and 800 for the women, and there are points still available in the DMR and 4x4. We're just going to go out there and do what we can and maximize every point we can get.
"On the men's side, same thing. We have people in the 800, mile, the relays and D-Locke in the 60 and 200, so we have some opportunities to score some big points. We just need to come through now and execute in the way that we like. We're just building momentum on the men's side, and the women are digging in also.
"It's gratifying seeing them come along, but we still have a ways to go on both sides to where I want to be consistently. But, we're definitely scrapping and fighting and representing Tennessee in the fashion that we like, and that's winning and doing the best that we can."
Pole Vault: 1. Joe Berry, 17-7.50/5.37m; 7. Robert Rasnick, 16-11.50/5.17m; t8. Chase Brannon, 16-5.50/5.02m!; NH - Tyler Porter
Long Jump: 5. Justin Hunter, 25-4/7.72m; 9. Desmond Brown, 24-9/7.54m
Shot Put: 10. Ben Bartholomew, 53-3.50/16.24m; 11. Matt Darr, 53-3/16.23m!
3000m: 11. Chris Bodary, 8:23.04b; 12. Michael Spooner, 8:28.25b; 13. Jake Rainey, 8:33.67b!; 17. Daniel Tobin, 8:41.26b; 18. Tyler Freeman, 8:45.25b
Heptathlon (Final): DNF - Kevin Carney (60mH: 11. 8.88; 772 pts.; Pole Vault: 10. 12-5.50/3.80m, 562 pts.; 1000m: DNS)
60m Prelims: Adv. Dentarius Locke, 6.67p/2nd, ht. 1 (3rd); 18. Jarael Nelvis, 6.92p/6th, ht. 2
800m Prelims: Adv. Peter Sigilai, 1:50.94bp/2nd, ht. 2. (3rd); Adv. Joe Franklin, 1:51.98bp/3rd, ht. 3 (9th); 12. Breon Dixon, 1:53.16bp!/5th, ht. 2; 14. Ford Bell, 1:53.30bp!/4th, ht. 1
200m Prelims: Adv.. Dentarius Locke, 21.02bp!/1st, ht. 3 (6th); 12. Jarael Nelvis, 21.28bp!/3rd, ht. 2
60mH Prelims: Adv. Terry Benson, 8.15p!/3rd, ht. 1 (8th)
Mile Prelims: Adv. Jordan Chaney, 4:10.34bp! (10th); 17. Chris Rapp, 4:18.59bp
400m Prelims: 13. Varick Tucker, 47.82bp/3rd, ht. 2; 25. Deaundra Dailey, 49.92bp/3rd, ht. 4
Heptathlon (Day One): 12. Kevin Carney, 2,529 pts. (60m: 13th, 7.66, 662 pts.; Long Jump: 12th, 18-9/5.71m, 525 pts.; Shot Put: 10th, 40-0.75/12.12m, 619 pts; High Jump: 6th, 6-3.25/1.91m, 723 pts.)
3000m: 1. Jackie Areson, 9:10.49bSECr; 2. Liz Costello, 9:16.14b; 3. Brittany Sheffey, 9:26.75b; 22. Elizabeth Tiller, 10:40.36b
Weight Throw: 6. Jessie Harrison, 60-8.50/18.50m!; 10. Laquoya Kelly, 57-3.75/17.47m
High Jump: 6. Ellen Wortham, 5-6/1.68m
Long Jump: 8. Kia Jackson, 18-11.25/5.77m; 21. Jazmen Townsend, 17-4.25/5.29m
800m Prelims: Adv. Chanelle Price, 2:07.42bp/1st, ht. 1 (2nd); Adv. Nijgia Snapp, 2:09.21bp/2nd, ht. 4 (5th); Adv. Kianna Ruff, 2:10.58bp/2nd, ht. 3 (9th); 11. Brittney Jackson, 2:12.31bp/3rd, ht. 1; 13. Ty-Vonna Johnson, 2:13.88bp!/4th, ht. 2; 14. Charity Honeycutt, 2:14.33bp!/4th, ht. 4; 19. Kim White, 2:17.27bp!/5th, ht. 1
60mH Prelims: 9. Ellen Wortham, 8.51p/4th, ht. 2; 18. Bianca Blair, 8.80p/6th, ht. 3
60m Prelims: 11. Kia Jackson, 7.52p/4th, ht. 3; 12. Brittany Jones, 7.57p/4th, ht. 1; t17. Ashley Harris, 7.66p/7th, ht. 3
Mile Prelims: 15. Ramzee Fondren, 5:03.75bp; 16. Amber Zimmerman, 5:04.29bp; 22. Elizabeth Altizer, 5:16.64bp
400m Prelims: 14. Martinique Octave, 55.12bp!/1st, ht. 5; 35. Kirstyn Sweeney, 1:00.14bp/1st, ht. 10
200m Prelims: 19. Martinique Octave, 24.44bp/3rd, ht. 3; 21. Brittany Jones, 24.56bp/3rd, ht. 5; 23. Ashley Harris, 24.68bp/4th, ht. 5; 25. Kia Jackson, 24.71bp/2nd, ht. 6; 29. Bianca Blair, 26.54bp/3rd, ht. 7
Pentathlon (Final): 3. Ellen Wortham, 3977 pts. (60mH: 2nd, 8.47!, 1,024 pts.; High Jump: 4th, 5-4.50/1.64m, 783 pts.; Shot Put: 13th, 30-9.25/9.38m, 489 pts; Long Jump: 4th, 19-3.25/5.87m, 810 pts.; 800m: 1st, 2:16.57b!, 871 pts.)
* - NCAA automatic qualifying mark, ! - personal record, ^ - oversized track, b - banked track, DNF - did not finish, DQ - disqualified, F - foul, fr - facility record, FS - false start, h - heat, m - meters, mr - meet record, NM - no mark registered, NH - no height registered, p - preliminary round, sr - school record
Joe Berry talks about his SEC pole vault championship.
J.J. Clark talks about Saturday at the SEC Indoor meet.