Tennessee Claims Trio Of Victories, Pair of Runner-up Finishes On Final Day Of SEC Championships

Feb. 28, 2010

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By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- The University of Tennessee women's and men's track & field teams closed out their stay at the 2010 SEC Indoor Championships by collecting a trio of victories and a pair of runner-up finishes on Sunday at the Randal Tyson Track Center.

The fourth-ranked Lady Vols benefitted from all of those efforts to wind up fourth with 77 points. No. 3 Florida took top honors with 110 points, followed by No. 6 Arkansas (82) and No. 5 LSU (79.5). Trailing UT were Georgia (65.5), No. 9 Auburn (55), South Carolina (53), Alabama (51), Kentucky (38), Ole Miss (30), Mississippi State (16) and Vanderbilt (5).

"We put some key performances down at this meet, but it just wasn't enough," UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark said. "We're going to have to get help all around the board. You need all cylinders firing to win in this conference, and that's what I expect to have. We'll just have to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to come out on top of this thing again."

The Vols, meanwhile, wound up 10th with 24.5 points. No. 6 Arkansas took the crown with 123, followed by No. 4 Florida (119), No. 3 LSU (108.5), South Carolina (67), No. 25 Georgia (61), No. 16 Auburn (50), No. 21 Alabama (47), Ole Miss (37), No. 23 Kentucky (26) and UT. Mississippi State did not score.

"Last year, the team was eighth before I took over," Clark said. "We lost a ton of people after that point, beyond my control. This is a work in progress, and you have to be realistic and understand that you lost some key people to graduation and during the transition (after Bill Webb's retirement). You add sprinter Dentarius Locke being unable to compete this season and Joe Morris opting not to return this semester, coupled with the fact you can't immediately replace these losses through recruiting, and that makes it very difficult.

"Rome wasn't built in a day. Through time, we will move up the ladder. We're definitely going to get back home, work overtime and make sure we get this right with both the womens' and men's teams. We will answer the bell."

In back-to-back races on Sunday, the Tennessee women reeled off victories in the 5000 and 800 meters and collected a runner-up performance in the 800 meters to boot. They later added another triumph in the distance medley relay, something that has become a bit of a tradition for the Big Orange.

First, it was senior Jackie Areson, the SEC leader, holding serve in the 5K. Coming in with the third best time in the NCAA this season, a school-record 15:53.54, Areson ran a more conservative race today. She contently sat behind Florida's Rebecca Lowe for 23 laps before blowing the doors off with 400 meters to go and winning in a time of 16:15.12. It was the first conference title of Areson's career, and she became only the second Lady Vol to win the SEC 5K indoors, joining Felicia Guliford (2005).

"She's the best runner in the field, and I thought she'd win," Clark said. "Just because you are expected to do something, though, doesn't mean you're always going to do it. What's more impressive is how (relaxed) she looked and how she came back later in her anchor leg on the DMR. I am really proud of what she did."

Shortly afterward, senior Phoebe Wright cruised to her second consecutive league indoor crown in the 800. Teammate Chanelle Price took the lead early, but with 300 to go Wright shifted to another gear and moved to the front with two-time SEC champ LaTavia Thomas of LSU and Price giving chase. Wright never faltered down the stretch en route to winning in an indoor career best of 2:01.47 that ranks as the second fastest indoor mark ever recorded by a collegiate woman. Only UT's Nicole Cook (2:00.75), who set the collegiate record in winning the SEC title in this venue in 2005, has run faster. Price, meanwhile, overtook Thomas down the home stretch and gave Tennessee a one-two finish and an 18-point splurge with an indoor PR of her own in 2:03.12. That mark puts her No. 2 in the NCAA behind Wright this season.

"Phoebe came here, answered the bell and ran a PR at a big meet," Clark said. "She had the fastest time coming in, so it was no surprise that she ran fast. It's still gratifying to see her do that. It also was a PR for Chanelle and is one of the fastest times in SEC history and No. 2 in the country behind Phoebe this year."

Areson, Wright and Price all had a hand in Tennessee's SEC meet-record clocking in the distance medley relay, as well, helping Clark's squad claim the fourth straight title and sixth win in seven years in that event. The Lady Vols came from behind, with Areson speeding ahead of Arkansas on the final lap to deliver an 11:14.59 readout that snapped the previous league standard of 11:16.61, set by UT in 2004. UT's lineup included Wright running the 1200m leg, junior Kim White handling the 400m hitch, Price on the 800m turn and Areson anchoring in the 1600 meters.

"It's an SEC meet record, and to run that fast at the end of the meet when you've already run several events is very impressive," Clark said. "They just did a great job of getting it done. I give them the credit for coming out here, sticking their hearts into it and doing their best."

After carding a runner-up showing in the 3000 meters on Saturday evening, sophomore Brittany Sheffey returned to the oval on Sunday and produced another second-place finish, this time in the mile. Much as she did the day before, the Lady Vol saved just enough at the end for a strong finishing kick that brought her across the line in 4:43.56 after zooming past a pair of runners over the final 60 meters. As in the 3K, Florida senior Charlotte Browning took the title, winning in 4:37.29.

In the men's sprints, senior Evander Wells contributed points in two events for the Vols. He started the day with a seventh-place clocking of 6.81 in the 60-meter dash and came back later to snare fourth place with a season-best and near automatic qualifier in the 200 at 20.88. It marked the third time in the 60 and fourth occasion in the 200 that Wells had scored at the SEC Indoor meet, as he enjoyed his finest league indoor personal performance since 2008.

The Vol sprint group later closed out the meet in strong fashion with a fifth-place outcome in the 4x400m relay. The quartet of seniors John Hewitt and Samdi Fraser, freshman Terrance Livingston and sophomore Varick Tucker handled their duties in a season-best and NCAA provisional clocking of 3:10.34 that left them just shy of UT's all-time top 12 list.

UT got a sixth-place effort in the men's 800 from Joe Franklin. The sophomore covered the distance in a season-best 1:51.22 to score at the SEC meet for the second straight season. Classmate Emerson Peacock, who finished seventh to Franklin's third a year ago at this meet, was ninth this time around in 1:56.16.

In the pole vault, Robert Rasnick scored in SEC competition for the first time as a Vol. The sophomore cleared 16-10 3/4 today to grab sixth place for Team Orange. Defending champion Joe Berry, who has been trying to work his way back from injury this season, tied for eighth at 16-4 3/4.

Freshman Jessie Harrison contributed to the Lady Vol cause in the weight throw, snaring sixth place with a career-best toss of 60-4 1/2 on her very first attempt. Harrison had entered the competition with a best mark of 58-4.75 that ranked her 11th in the SEC. She moved to No. 3 on UT's all-time performers list with that mark, surpassing sophomore teammate Laquoya Kelly, who was ninth today at 57-8.50.

The Lady Vols' 4x4 accounted for the women's final points, circling the track in 3:39.79 to place sixth. Toting the stick were sophomore Ellen Wortham, Wright, Price and freshman Martinique Octave.

Sophomore Ben Bartholomew, who joined the squad in January from the football team, banged out a toss of 53-2 3/4 on his final attempt to place seventh in the men's shot put. The DMR contingent of Peacock, senior Alan Bachman, Franklin and junior Peter Sigilai also added a seventh-place result of 10:02.72.

Elsewhere for the Vols, junior Michael Spooner was the best of six UT entries in the 5K, covering the distance in an indoor career best of 14:31.35 to wind up 10th, while Leoule Degfae was 14th in 14:40.00.

"We didn't have a big scoring meet on the men's side," Clark said. "We did have Evander score in two sprint events, we had both relays score, we got a few points in the 800 and added some in the field events. We really have to set some goals on both sides and work on making improvement."

Sunday's Tennessee Men's Results

60m Final: 7. Evander Wells, 6.81

800m Final: 6. Joe Franklin, 1:51.22b; 9. Emerson Peacock, 1:56.16b 200m Final: 4. Evander Wells, 20.88b+

5000m Final: 10. Michael Spooner, 14:31.35b!; 14. Leoule Degfae, 14:40.00b!; 17. Chris Bodary, 14:46.39b; NM Chris Kane, DNF; NM Steve Fassino, DNF; NM Chris Rapp, DNF

DMR Final: 7. Emerson Peacock / Alan Bachman / Joe Franklin / Peter Sigilai, 10:02.72b

4x400mR Final: 5. John Hewitt / Samdi Fraser / Terrance Livingston / Varick Tucker, 3:10.34b!+

Pole Vault Final: 6. Robert Rasnick, 16-10.75/5.15m; t8. Joe Berry, 16-4.75/5.00m

Shot Put Final: 7. Ben Bartholomew, 53-2.75/16.22m

Sunday's Tennessee Women's Results

Mile Final: 2. Brittany Sheffey, 4:43.56b+

800m Final: 1. Phoebe Wright 2:01.47b!*; 2. Chanelle Price, 2:03.12b!*

5000m Final: 1. Jackie Areson, 16:15.12b+; 11. Michele Levy, 18:31.22b; 12. Elizabeth Tiller, 19:21.03b

DMR Final:1. Phoebe Wright / Kim White / Chanelle Price / Jackie Areson, 11:14.59b+mr

4x400mR Final: 6. Ellen Wortham / Phoebe Wright / Chanelle Price / Martinique Octave, 3:39.79b+

Weight Throw Final: 6. Jessie Harrison, 60-4.50/18.40m!; 9. Laquoya Kelly, 57-8.50/17.59m

High Jump Final: t15. Ellen Wortham, 5-5/1.65m

* NCAA automatic qualifier, + - NCAA provisional qualifier, ! - Personal best, Adv. - Advanced to next round, DQ - Disqualified, DNF - Did not finish, F - Foul, FS - False start, m - meters, mr - Meet record, NM - No mark, p - Prelims, sr - School record

Phoebe Wright, women's 800-meter champion "The SEC is the toughest conference in the nation, and it's really special to win and beat my best time. I had to give my best effort to win."

Jackie Areson, women's 5,000-meter champion "I felt really good during the race, and I wanted to stay patient. I tried to run as conservatively as possible, because I still had the DMR coming up."

Jackie Areson, anchor leg for women's distance medley relay champions "I felt good when I was running, so I wanted to go for it. We all ran less than an hour before, and we just really wanted to win."





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