May 24, 2012
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- One Tennessee track & field athlete punched her ticket to the NCAA Outdoor Championship meet, and seven others moved a step closer to following suit Thursday on the first day of the NCAA East Preliminary Round at the University of North Florida's Hodges Stadium.
Senior Annie Alexander was the first UT performer to advance to the NCAA meet, slated for June 6-9 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa. She did so by knocking out the fourth-best throw in the women's shot put qualifying round on her sixth attempt. As it turned out, her heave of 52-1 on her first try still would have sent her to her fourth national meet in that event. She carded a third-place finish a year ago at the NCAA Championships.
"We expected Annie to qualify for the NCAA meet, and it was good to see her make that happen," UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark said. "She had a little problem with her leg earlier in the week, but she pulled through as Annie does."
Among the Tennessee student-athletes who moved out of the first round and into the quarterfinals were senior Ellen Wortham in the women's 400m hurdles, senior Terry Benson in the men's 400m hurdles, senior Brittany Sheffey in the women's 1500m run, and junior Kia Jackson and senior Brittany Jones in the women's 100m dash. They were joined in UT's final event of the day, the women's 800 meters, by senior Chanelle Price and junior Nijgia Snapp.
"I thought Ellen looked great in her first round 400m hurdles race, and it was good to have Chanelle, Nijgia and Brittany advance as well as Terry Benson in the men's 400m hurdles. I'm also looking forward to seeing Kia and Brittany back in action tomorrow after they qualified in the 100m dash today.
"Tomorrow is a big day for Tennessee and the Big Orange with 10 events. We'll also get Hoty going in the shot put and our men's pole vaulters in action on Saturday. We brought 26 athletes to this meet and hope to keep advancing people and have a busy and successful weekend in Jacksonville."
Wortham, who entered the meet ranked No. 2 in the NCAA this season with a time of 55.55 seconds in the women's 400m hurdles, nearly topped that school-record mark on Thursday afternoon with a 55.66 readout to win heat four by a whopping three seconds. That effort was the best of the day in the event and moved her on to Friday's quarterfinal round at 7:45 p.m. Eastern time.
Benson moved along in the men's 400m hurdles just prior to Wortham's race. His time of 51.96 was good for fourth place in heat four and ranked him 20th of the 28 advancers. He will run at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
In the first round of the women's 800 meters, Price looked strong in taking a wire-to-wire victory in heat three with a 2:04.32 mark that was the fastest of the field. Snapp joined her in the quarterfinals, grabbing third in heat one in 2:04.32. They'll run on Friday at 7:15 p.m. Sophomore Kianna Ruff will not, as her 2:09.29 readout in heat six left her 35th overall.
In the women's 1500m first round, Sheffey ran patiently behind the leaders, moved off the rail at the right time and earned a spot in the quarterfinals. She automatically advanced as one of the top five times in her heat, placing third in section four and 15th-fastest of the 24 qualifiers. She will run next on Saturday at 6:45 p.m.
The Lady Vols added a pair of sprinters to the qualifying club in the 100m dash. Jackson and Jones each moved on to Friday's 6:45 p.m. quarterfinals with the No. 18 and No. 23 times among the 27 advancers. Jackson ran 11.69 to place third in heat six, while Jones was fifth in heat one with an 11.75 readout.
Not making it out of the first round were redshirt freshman Tavis Bailey (17th, 172-7) and redshirt freshman Matthew Hoty (38th, 159-7) in the men's discus throw, freshman Tyler Anderson (28th, 23-5 1/2) and senior Desmond Brown (41st, 22-3) in the men's long jump, freshman Jamol James (33rd, 10.67) in the men's 100m dash, and Wortham in the women's long jump (41st, 18-5). Only the top 12 advance out of individual events to the NCAA Championship meet.
Logistical issues with the facility forced the changing of start times for several field events, including the switch of the men's discus Thursday and moving the men's shot put to Saturday at 5 p.m. Two Friday time changes involving Tennessee athletes include the women's pole vault (Linda Hadfield) now beginning at 11 a.m. and the women's discus throw (Annie Alexander, Aslynn Halvorson and Jessie Harrison) starting at 3 p.m.
Other Friday events include Benson in the men's 110m hurdles, senior Bianca Blair in the women's 100m hurdles, James in the men's 200m and Jones in the women's 200m. All are first-round races.
400m Hurdles First Round: Adv. Terry Benson, 51.96p/4th, ht. 4 (20th)
Discus Throw First Round: 17. Tavis Bailey, 172-7/52.62mp; 38. Matthew Hoty, 159-7/48.65mp
Long Jump First Round: 28. Tyler Anderson, 23-5.50/7.15mp (w: 0.5); 41. Desmond Brown, 22-3/6.78mp (w: -0.9)
100m First Round: DNA - Jamol James, 10.67p (w: -1.5)/6th, ht. 1 (33rd)
Shot Put First Round: NCAA Qual. Annie Alexander, 54-8/16.66mp (4th)
400m Hurdles First Round: Adv. Ellen Wortham, 55.66p/1st, ht. 4 (1st)
800m First Round: Adv. Chanelle Price, 2:04.32p/1st, ht. 3 (1st); Adv. Nijgia Snapp, 2:07.57p/3rd, ht. 2 (20th); DNA - Kianna Ruff, 2:09.29p/7th, ht. 6 (35th)
1500m First Round: Adv. Brittany Sheffey, 4:24.23p/3rd, ht. 4 (15th)
100m First Round: Adv. Kia Jackson, 11.69p (w: 1.4)/3rd, ht. 6 (18th); Adv. Brittany Jackson, 11.75p (w: -1.5)/5th, ht. 1 (23rd)
Long Jump First Round: 41. Ellen Wortham, 18-5/5.61m (w: 0.1)
! - personal record, Adv. - Advanced to next round, DNA - did not advance, DNF - did not finish, DNS - did not start, 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, utfr - UT freshman record, w - wind-aided