May 28, 2010
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Three Lady Vols and the third Vol of the weekend punched their tickets to Eugene, Ore., Friday, earning national qualifying marks for the University of Tennessee at the NCAA Track & Field East Preliminary Round at Irwin Belk Track.
Senior Matt Maloney in the men's javelin, seniors Phoebe Wright and Kimarra McDonald in the women's 800 meters, and sophomore Ellen Wortham in the 400m hurdles joined Thursday night Big Orange pole vault qualifiers Robert Rasnick and Brad Holtz in earning trips to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, June 9-12.
Wright, a native of Signal Mountain, Tenn., looked exceptionally sharp in clocking the fastest time by a collegiate woman this season to win heat two of the quarterfinals in a sizzling two minutes, .87 seconds. The mark, the second fastest of Wright's career, ranks No. 7 in the world this season and came as she led wire to wire and remained undefeated at that distance in 11 races in 2010.
McDonald made sure her teammate has some company in Oregon, uncorking a huge, three-second personal best of 2:04.19 to finish fourth in the same heat and card the sixth-best readout of the 12 qualifiers for the NCAA semifinals. A fifth-year senior, McDonald had no indoor eligibility remaining and returned this season only for the purpose of trying to make her first NCAA field in the 800. Mission accomplished.
"They both executed well, and it ended up with Phoebe having the fastest time in the country and Kimarra a three-second PR," UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark said. "They believed in themselves, executed correctly and earned themselves a trip to the NCAA meet."
Vol senior Matt Maloney was the first Big Orange competitor on day two to write his ticket to the national meet, launching a throw of 219 feet, eight inches in the afternoon heat to hold on for 12th place and the final qualifying spot for nationals in the men's javelin.
Maloney will return to the venue where he began his career, as a University of Oregon Duck, before transferring to Tennessee after his freshman season in 2006. After coming back from an injury redshirt season in 2009, the 2007 All-American will be making his fourth appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships when he sets foot on Hayward Field.
"The idea is to get to the meet, and Matt did that," Clark said. "He has a bigger throw in him; it's just a matter of fine-tuning a few things with his coach (John Frazier) to get it done. I feel very confident that he'll do that."
Wortham was the final Tennessean of the day to join the NCAA travel party, demonstrating her steely resolve once again with a PR effort of 57.55 to take fifth in a speedy first heat and rank 10th of the qualifiers. The Maryville High School graduate lowered her time for the fifth occasion this season, including today's effort and a runner-up showing at the SEC meet two weekends ago.
"Ellen is a competitor, and she knows how to get it done and run PRs in big races," Clark said. "She's done that several times, so we look forward to her doing that."
In UT's final event of the evening, before lightning forced a delay of the action, seniors Evander Wells and Kyle Stevenson moved out of the first round of the 200-meter dash into Saturday's quarterfinals. Wells won heat six in 20.90, logging the No. 8 time of the 24 advancers. Stevenson, meanwhile, was third in the same heat and the 18th qualifier in 21.14.
Earlier in the day, Wells (15th, 10.35) and Stephenson (17th, 10.36) were unable to advance to the national meet in the 100 meters. Nor was sophomore Emerson Peacock in the men's 800m (22nd, 1:52.83), sophomore Ramzee Fondren in the women's 800m (20th, 2:08.61) or senior John Hewitt, who saw his career come to an end when he clipped the ninth hurdle and took a tumble in the 400m hurdle quarterfinals. To his credit, Hewitt picked himself up and finished what he started, far slower than he would have liked, in 1:07.40.
"We were looking for Evander and Kyle to get there in the 100, but they just didn't execute as well as they had in the past," Clark said. "They advanced in the 200, so we'll take that, try to qualify for the national meet and make it work."
In addition to Wells and Stevenson running for national berths on Saturday, there will be four Lady Vol events to watch. Striving for tickets to Eugene are freshman Aslynn Halvorson in the discus throw, sophomore Brittany Sheffey in the 1500m, Jackie Areson in the 5000m and the Lady Vol 4x400m relay quartet of Wortham, Wright, freshman Martinique Octave and McDonald.
"Continued advancement," Clark said about his expectations for the final day. "It's like in baskeball, when you play, advance, play, advance. We're just trying to advance every round until we get to the final round or final race in Eugene, Ore. That's what we want to do."
800m Quarterfinals: NCAA Qualifier (1st) Phoebe Wright, 2:00.87p/1st, ht. 2; NCAA Qualifier (6th) Kimarra McDonald, 2:04.19p!/4th, ht. 2; 20. Ramzee Fondren, 2:08.61p/8th, ht. 2
400m Hurdles Quarterfinals: NCAA Qualifier (10th) Ellen Wortham, 57.55p!/5th, ht. 1
800m Quarterfinals: 22. Emerson Peacock, 1:52.83p/7th, ht. 3
400m Hurdles Quarterfinals: 23. John Hewitt, 1:07.40p/8th, ht. 2
Discus Throw Qualifying: Aslynn Halvorson
1500m Quarterfinals: Brittany Sheffey
5000m Semifinals: Jackie Areson
4x400m Relay Quarterfinals: Wortham / Wright / Octave / McDonald
Javelin Throw Qualifying: 32. Holly Kane, 131-8/40.15m
400m Hurdles First Round: Adv. (20th) Ellen Wortham, 58.88p/2nd, ht. 5
1500m First Round: Adv. (11th) Brittany Sheffey, 4:22.27p/2nd, ht. 4
800m First Round: Adv. (1st) Phoebe Wright, 2:05.18p/1st, ht. 5; Adv. (22nd) Kimarra McDonald, 2:08.66p/3rd, ht. 6; Adv. (24th) Ramzee Fondren, 2:08.80p/4th, ht. 3
400m Hurdles First Round: Adv. (19th) John Hewitt, 51.82p/3rd, ht. 3
1500m First Round: 22. Peter Sigilai, 3:50.74p/6th, ht. 1
Long Jump Qualifying: 20. Desmond Brown, 24-3.75/7.41m (w: 0.0)
400m First Round: 41. Samdi Fraser, 47.54p/6th, ht. 5
10000m Semifinal: 24. Michael Spooner, 31:11.90
DNF - did not finish; DNR - did not run; DQ - disqualified; f - foul; fr - facility record; m - meters; mr - meet record; nwi - no wind index; p - prelims; sr - school record; ! - personal