May 26, 2012
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Tennessee track & field program entered Saturday with eight events in which to advance athletes to the NCAA Outdoor Championships. By the end of the NCAA East Preliminary Round meet on Saturday night, the Big Orange had taken advantage of seven of those chances at North Florida's Hodges Stadium.
On the final day, Tennessee added sophomore Chase Brannon (men's pole vault), redshirt freshman Matthew Hoty (men's shot put), senior Brittany Jones (women's 200m), senior Brittany Sheffey (women's 1500m), the women's 4x400m relay and both the men's and women's 4x100m relay teams to the travel party headed to Des Moines, Iowa, June 6-9.
That group joins Annie Alexander (women's discus throw & shot put), Linda Hadfield (women's pole vault), Chanelle Price (women's 800m) and Ellen Wortham (women's 400m hurdles), who had previously qualified at this meet. That brings UT's personnel tallies to 11 women competing in nine events and six men taking part in three events at Drake Stadium.
"It was a good day for Tennessee," UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark said. "Our objective was to come here and advance people to the NCAA meet. We advanced men; we advanced women. We had a couple of casualties, people we wanted to make it, but didn't, but on the whole, it was an outstanding day. Our program is moving in the direction we need it to go.
"Every year we want to qualify more and more. When you are at the national meet, the more people you have going, the more chances you have to put points on the board. That's what it's about at that meet. As for today, though, we just came here and got it done on a day it needed to be done."
Brannon followed up his qualification for the 2012 NCAA Indoor meet by earning a bid outdoors with the second-best outdoor vault of his career. The product of Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy soared over the bar at 17 feet, 5 1/2 inches on his third attempt to tie for the eighth-best clearance of the afternoon and book his trip to Iowa. He had earlier cleared 16-5 1/2 on his first attempt, 16-11 1/2 on try number two and 17-3 1/2 on his first foray.
"I had a good plan coming in, I've been jumping well in practice, and I executed the plan to make it to nationals," Brannon said. "I'm glad I made it (17-5 1/2) on my third attempt. It's very satisfying, because I didn't want everyone to think I was just a flash in the pan making it indoors. I am glad I could do it again."
The men's 4x100m relay quartet of junior Reggie Juin, freshman Jamol James, sophomore Jarael Nelvis and junior Arnez Hardnick gave Tennessee four more entries in the national meet and its second event. The unit put together its best outing of the spring, moving the stick around the oval in a time of 39.66 to finish just behind LSU in heat two and fifth-fastest of the 12 qualifying teams.
"All we thought about was coming together and getting the stick around," Hardnick said. "The speed was there, we just had to get the stick around the track and show that we were much faster than it said on paper. When it was time to run, we ran, and getting it done today felt great."
The Lady Vol 4x1 followed suit shortly afterward, also carding a season-best readout. The lineup of senior Ashley Harris, senior Brittany Jones, junior Martinique Octave and junior Kia Jackson circled the track in 44.29 to cross the line third in heat two and sixth-fastest of the advancing tandems. They'll be making their second-consecutive NCAA Outdoor showing.
"We've put forth so much work, so to come here, run a season best and punch our ticket to nationals is exciting," Jackson. "Ashley got us out to a good start and both Brittany and Martinique kept it going, and I just did what I had to do to get top three. All of us just competed today to the best of our abilities."
Sheffey advanced to her third NCAA Outdoor meet in the 1500 meters, carding a personal-record time in the process. With the top five finishers in each of the two heats moving on to the NCAA meet, she found herself taking sixth in heat one with a PR of 4:17.83. Fortunately for her, heat one was the fastest of the two, and her readout, while earning one of the two at-large bids, was the sixth fastest overall.
"I figured it would take something pretty fast to get to Des Moines, so I am excited," Sheffey said. "I haven't been feeling the best this season. I've been having some pretty good practices, and my races haven't been indicative of those practices, but I just tried to stay positive, pray and get back after it. Thank God this weekend came out well, and hopefully I can keep my times coming down for the rest of the season."
Like Brannon, Hoty followed his indoor qualification in the men's shot put with a trip to nationals outdoors. The first-year performer, though, made it by the slimmest of margins, punching out a throw of 59-10 1/2 on his first attempt that withstood the next five rounds of throws from his competitors. We wound up with the 12th and final qualifying spot.
"The first throw, I came out and said `I'm going to give it what I've got,' and I hung on from there," Hoty said. "I don't think I've ever thrown my best throw with my first attempt, so it was kind of nerve-racking holding on the entire time."
In the women's 200 meters, Jones qualified in the first individual event of her career. She accomplished that feat by clicking off her fastest wind-legal race of the season in 23.20. That readout enabled her to place third in heat three and post the No. 9 mark of those advancing to the national round.
The UT women's 4x400m relay unit also joined the in-crowd, carding a second-place outcome in heat one of the final event of the meet. The foursome of Wortham, sophomore Kianna Ruff, junior Nijgia Snapp and Octave, who will make their second-straight NCAA Outdoor appearance, cranked out a season-best production of 3:33.59 that stood fourth-best of the 12 qualifying teams.
Pole Vault First Round: NCAA Qual. - Chase Brannon, 17-5.50/5.32m (t8th); DNA - Robert Rasnick, 17-3.50/5.27m (t16th)
4x100m Relay Quarterfinal: NCAA Qual. - Reggie Juin / Jamol James / Jarael Nelvis / Arnez Hardnick, 39.66p/2nd, ht. 2 (5th)
Shot Put First Round: NCAA Qual. - Matthew Hoty, 59-10.50/18.25m (12th)
400m Hurdles Quarterfinal: DNA - Terry Benson, 52.54p/7th, ht. 1 (19th)
110m Hurdles First Round: DNA - Terry Benson, 14.10p! (w: 2.0)/5th, ht. 2 (32nd)
200m First Round: DNA - Jamol James, 21.34p (w: 0.8)/7th, ht. 6 (36th)
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)
4x100m Relay Quarterfinal: NCAA Qual. - Ashley Harris / Brittany Jones / Martinique Octave / Kia Jackson, 44.29p/3rd, ht. 2 (6th)
1500m Quarterfinal: NCAA Qual. - Brittany Sheffey, 4:17.83p!/6th, ht. 1 (6th)
200m Quarterfinal: NCAA Qual. - Brittany Jones, 23.20p (w: 0.1)/3rd, ht. 1 (9th)
4x400m Relay Quarterfinal: NCAA Qual. - Ellen Wortham / Kianna Ruff / Nijgia Snapp / Martinique Octave, 3:33.59p/2nd, ht. 1 (4th)
Hammer Throw First Round: DNA - Laquoya Kelly, NM
800m Quarterfinal: NCAA Qual. - Chanelle Price, 2:02.64pfr/1st, ht. 2 (1st); DNA - Nijgia Snapp, 2:13.64p/9th, ht. 3 (27th)
400m Hurdles Quarterfinal: NCAA Qual. - Ellen Wortham, 55.70p/1st, ht. 3 (1st)
Discus Throw First Round: NCAA Qual. - Annie Alexander, 178-3/54.35m (3rd); DNA - Aslynn Halvorson, 155-5/47.37m (17th); DNA - Jessie Harrison, 131-6/40.08m (42nd)
Pole Vault First Round: NCAA Qual. - Linda Hadfield, 13-3.50/4.05mp (12th)
200m First Round: Adv. Brittany Jones, 23.28p (w: 0.1)/1st, ht. 3 (9th)
100m Quarterfinal: DNA - Kia Jackson, 11.56p (w: 1.5)/7th, ht. 1 (16th); DNA - Brittany Jones, 11.62p (w: -0.6)/6th, ht. 2 (22nd)
100m Hurdles First Round: DNF - Bianca Blair
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