June 8, 2012
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Tennessee came to Drake Stadium on Friday with four scoring opportunities, and the Big Orange capitalized on each of them on day three at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
The Lady Vols, producing points in their final three chances of the meet, will finish with 21 and currently stand in fifth place with 14 out of 21 events scored. They'll have to wait until Saturday to see whether they can post the program's 11th top-10 finish under the watch of UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark. The Vols, meanwhile, got onto the scoreboard with a point in the pole vault and will have two additional scoring opportunities on Saturday.
In the women's 400-meter hurdles final, senior Ellen Wortham produced the best finish by a Lady Vol in that event at this meet since 1991. Running below 56 seconds for the fifth-straight race, the native of Maryville (Maryville H.S.) clocked in with a time of 55.82 seconds to snare third-place honors in her first NCAA 400m hurdles final. The last top-three UT NCAA women's finisher in that event was Tonya Lee, who was runner-up in 1991. Wortham did have her seven-race win streak snapped and finished out of first place in a college race for only the second time in her last 17 races.
"Ellen always gives her best, and she did exactly that today," Clark said. "She could have finished anywhere from first to eighth in the field today, and we were glad to have her earn us six points for a third-place finish. I am very proud of what she's done all year and what's she's given to our program during her tenure at Tennessee."
Senior Chanelle Price also turned in a third-place showing, doing so in the women's 800 meters for the second-straight season. After running 2:01.66 in the semifinals on Wednesday, Price returned to the oval Friday and lowered her season best to 2:01.49. That mark replaced Wednesday's effort as the second-fastest of her career. She became the first UT woman since Jasmin Jones posted runner-up 800m and 1500m finishes in 1990 and 1991 to record back-to-back NCAA Outdoor finishes in middle distance races.
"Chanelle has gotten stronger and stronger as the season has gone on, she's running her fastest times, and that's what you want," Clark said. "In the last part of the race, she looked good, and I really thought she had a chance to win. She gave it her best effort, and there's really not much to change there.
"Of course, we wanted to end with a win. She wasn't able to do that, but she was able to run her best time of the season. She has meant a lot to this program during her career, and her presence and contributions will be missed next year. For now, we're going to reboot, get ready for the U.S. Olympic Trials and make a run at that."
Yet another Lady Vol senior, Annie Alexander, grabbed fourth-place honors in the women's shot put to go along with the fifth-place result she carded in the discus throw on Wednesday. Alexander's best mark of the competition came on attempt number three, when she stretched the tape measure to a season-best 56-11 1/2. It marked the third time Alexander scored in the shot at NCAA Outdoors after placing third in 2011 and 2009.
"Annie came in and had a solid meet for us," Clark said. "She was injured right before the NCAA East meet and was battling that coming into this meet. She was able to pull together despite not being able to do much training and give one of her best efforts. I am very proud of her, Chanelle and Ellen, and we'll miss all of them next year."
Sophomore Chase Brannon was the first of the Vol youth movement at this meet to crack into the scoring column, grabbing eighth place in the men's pole vault despite entering the meet tied for 13th on the performance list with nine other men. He navigated 16-4 3/4, 16-10 3/4 and 17-4 1/2 on his first attempts and cleared 17-8 1/2 on his second try before coming up short at 18-0 1/2. Still, he became only the second UT vaulter to score at this meet since 2002, following Michael Hogue's seventh-place result in 2007.
"For Chase, I am very excited to see him get on the awards stand, but I'm also excited for the future of our men's program," Clark said. "He's young, and I'm looking at a lot of young guys coming back next year, including Matthew Hoty, Jamol James, Jarael Nelvis and our entire 4x100m relay from this meet. We'll have other guys back and some more help coming in, so I'm exciting for what this means now, but also for what this projects for next year. I'm very optimistic about the future of our men's team."
Tennessee will have entrants in two events on Saturday. Hoty, a redshirt freshman is set to throw the shot at 10 a.m. Central (11 ET), and the Vols' 4x100m relay is slated to run in the final at 11:03 a.m. CT (12:03 ET). Components of that unit are Reggie Juin, James, Nelvis and Arnez Hardnick. ESPNU will televise final day action from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. CT (Noon-2 ET), and www.espn3.com will stream live beginning at 11 a.m. CT (Noon ET).
Pole Vault Final: 8. Chase Brannon, 17-8.50/5.40m
No Vols In Action
400mH Final: 3. Ellen Wortham, 55.82
800m Final: 3. Chanelle Price, 2:01.49
Shot Put Final: 4. Annie Alexander, 56-11.50/17.36m
4x400m Semifinals: DNA - Ellen Wortham / Kianna Ruff / Nijgia Snapp / Martinique Octave, 3:31.57p/4th, ht. 1 (10th)
200m Semifinals: DNA - Brittany Jones, 23.35pw (w: 2.2)/6th, ht. 1 (15th)
1500m Semifinals: DNA - Brittany Sheffey, 4:18.63p/10th, ht. 1 (19th)
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