May 16, 2010
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The University of Tennessee track & field teams worked around a lengthy lightning delay to score in five events on Saturday and added a total of five more qualifiers in three different events on the third day of the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Tom Black Track at LaPorte Stadium.
During the meet's first running event, the women's 1500 meters, a thunderstorm began to roll in. At the conclusion of the race, at 6:10 p.m. Eastern time, the meet was promptly suspended due to lightning being observed in the area. The meet would not resume again until 10:30 p.m., but Mother Nature did allow the meet to run its course and force only one event, the men's pole vault, to be moved to Sunday. It will open the action at 1 p.m.
Buoyed by scoring contributions in four events, the UT men moved into seventh place through seven events scored. Georgia and LSU are tied for first with 45, followed by Auburn (40), Mississippi and Florida (35), and Arkansas (23). Trailing the Vols are South Carolina (16), Mississippi State (9) and Alabama (7).
The Lady Vols, meanwhile, finally broke through the scoring barrier and stand 12th with four points through eight events. Arkansas sits on the top rung of the ladder after three days with 42.50 points, followed by Florida (40.50), Georgia (39.50), LSU (39), Kentucky (36), Auburn (28), Alabama (23), South Carolina (20.50), Mississippi (17), Mississippi State (17) and Vanderbilt (5). Tennessee, however, has a number of entries on the final day.
In the first event of the afternoon, senior Matt Maloney saw his bid for an SEC championship in the javelin throw come up short. The two-time league runner-up, who entered the meet with the conference's number-two mark, checked in fourth with a fling of 217 feet, three inches. He did though, complete a successful comeback after missing the entire 2009 season and redshirting due to injury.
Desmond Brown became the third scorer for the Big Orange men at this meet, snaring fifth place in the long jump. The sophomore unleashed a career-best leap of 25-9 1/4 on his last attempt to move from sixth into a position to score four points for his squad. His mark tied him for eighth on UT's all-time performers list in that event.
Sophomore Ben Bartholomew and junior Michael Spooner added sixth-place efforts. Bartholomew came up with a best toss of 53-3 3/4 in the shot put to earn his points, while Spooner returned to the track after placing sixth in the 5K on Friday night to add an identical finish in the 3000m steeplechase on Saturday. He covered the distance in 9:07.33.
Freshman Aslynn Halvorson pushed the Big Orange women into the scoring column with a career-best toss in the discus throw. Her effort of 159-10 garnered her a fifth-place result, with that mark coming on her final attempt of the competition. She will also throw the shot on Sunday.
In the prelims of the women's 1500 meters, Tennessee advanced two to the finals. Sophomore Brittany Sheffey, the runner-up indoors in the mile, posted the fastest time of the 12 qualifiers, winning heat two in 4:25.01 just before lightning forced the suspension of the meet. Also moving on was senior Jackie Areson, who placed fourth in that heat and recorded the No. 6 qualifying time in 4:27.06.
The Vols added a potential point-scorer in the 1500m as well, as Peter Sigilai earned a spot in the final. The junior posted the seventh-best qualifying time by placing second in heat two with a clocking of 3:49.32.
Finally, a pair of UT sprinters earned lanes in their second final of the meet. Seniors Evander Wells and Kyle Stevenson moved along with the fifth- and eighth-fastest times in the prelims, with Wells finishing second in heat one in 10.35 and Stevenson running fourth in heat three in 10.47. Both were wind-legal, season-best readouts.
In addition to Saturday's qualifiers, the Lady Vols will have entries in the javelin, 4x100m relay, shot put, 800m, 400m hurdles, 5000m and 4x400m relay. The Vols' additional scoring opportunities will come in the pole vault, discus throw, 4x100m relay, 800m, 400m hurdles, 200m, 5000m and 4x400m relay.