June 6, 2012
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Tennessee got on the scoreboard in the women's team race on day one at Drake Stadium and successfully cashed in on three of four qualifying opportunities Wednesday at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
While it wasn't the performance she was hoping for, senior Annie Alexander got the 11th-ranked Lady Vols into the scoring mix with four points. She did so with a fifth-place toss of 186 feet in the women's discus throw final, carding her best mark on attempt number two of the competition. Alexander, who was third at this meet in both the discus and shot a year ago, will return to action in the latter on Friday at 5 p.m. Central time (6 ET).
"Obviously, it was good to have Annie get some points on the board today," UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark said. "She always gives her best, and we appreciate her efforts and are proud of what she has done for this program."
Sophomore Linda Hadfield was seeking to add points in the women's pole vault final. The first-time qualifier sailed over the opening height of 12-9 1/2 on her third attempt but was unable to navigate the bar at 13-3 1/2. She wound up tied for 20th.
In the most impressive effort of UT's four qualifying chances, senior Chanelle Price turned in a strong showing in the 800-meter semifinals and signaled that she should be considered a contender in Friday's final (6:20 p.m. CT/7:20 ET). She led wire to wire in heat three on Wednesday evening, crossing the line in an impressive time of two minutes, 1.33 seconds and posting the fastest readout of the eight qualifiers. That mark, an improvement over her previous season best of 2:02.64, ranks as the No. 2 time in her career behind a 2:01.33 effort in 2009.
Senior Ellen Wortham also looked like a title contender, winning heat two of the 400m hurdle semifinals in 55.67 and posting the second-best readout of the advancers to Friday's final at 5:45 p.m. CT (6:45 ET). Wortham, who qualified for her first NCAA final in the 400 hurdles, now has run sub-56 times in her last four starts, remained unbeaten in seven races in 2012 and won for the 15th time in her past 16 college races.
"The idea is to qualify and get to the finals, and both Chanelle and Ellen did exactly what we expected and wanted them to do today," Clark said.
The Vols' 4x100m relay team, which entered the competition seeded 11th with a season best of 39.66 achieved at the NCAA East meet, lowered its mark for the second-straight meet and earned a berth in the NCAA final. The 39.25 readout registered by junior Reggie Juin, freshman Jamol James, sophomore Jarael Nelvis and junior Arnez Hardnick was good enough for third in heat three and stood as the eighth and final qualifying time of the semifinal round. The quartet will run in Saturday's championship race at 11:03 a.m. Central (12:03 p.m. ET).
"Our men's 4x1 is coming along very well," Clark said. "They had a season best last week and they got it done today with another season best. I am very excited about that effort and also in knowing that they'll all be coming back next year."
The Lady Vol 4x100m relay unit came up short in its attempt to advance despite posting a season-best 44.26 clocking. The tandem of senior Ashley Harris, senior Brittany Jones, junior Martinique Octave and junior Kia Jackson wound up fourth in heat one and 12th overall.
"All in all, it was a good day," Clark said. "Obviously, we wanted everyone to advance, but the women's 4x1 running another season best still shows we are moving in the right direction. We are just looking forward to moving more people on tomorrow and to a good rest of the meet."
On Thursday, Tennessee has only three events on the schedule, all women's races. Jones will run in the 200m semifinals at 5:45 p.m. CT (6:45 ET), senior Brittany Sheffey will compete in the 1500m semis at 6:30 p.m. CT (7:30 ET) and the Lady Vol 4x400m relay will take part in the semis at 8:25 p.m. CT (9:25 ET).
Discus Throw Final: 5. Annie Alexander, 186-0/56.69m
Pole Vault Final: t20. Linda Hadfield, 12-9.50/3.90m
800m Semifinals: Adv. Chanelle Price, 2:01.66p/1st, ht. 3 (1st)
400m Hurdles Semifinals: Adv. 55.67p/1st, ht. 2 (2nd)
4x100m Semifinals: DNA - Ashley Harris / Brittany Jones / Martinique Octave / Kia Jackson, 44.26p/4th, ht. 1 (12th)
! - 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