June 11, 2010
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
EUGENE, Ore. -- With a cold rain, a biting wind and some hard luck making for a rather nasty Thursday for the University of Tennessee track & field teams, senior Evander Wells stepped up and delivered a ray of sunshine for the Big Orange on the second day of the NCAA Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field.
With a bundled up assemblage of 11,172 looking on, the largest second-day gathering in meet history, Wells began the proceedings in positive fashion for Team Orange. The senior, making it a perfect eight-for-eight in NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championship appearances during his career, earned a lane in Saturday's 200-meter dash final. Saving a little juice for the last half of the race, where he faced a slight -0.9 meters per second headwind, the Vol speed merchant crossed the line second in heat one and posted the sixth-fastest time of the advancers in 20.81 seconds.
Wells, who did not make the NCAA Outdoor field in the 200m a year ago, will try to score in this event for third time outdoors in his career. He was fourth in 2008 and fifth in 2007. Kyle Stevenson, making his first NCAA Outdoor appearance since his freshman season, bowed out in the semis, checking in seventh in heat one and 23rd overall in 21.40.
"Evander looked good today, he executed well and got through to the final," UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark said. "On a cool, breezy day, he did a good job and stayed very focused, so he's in the final. That's what we came here to do."
In the women's 1500 meters, calamity struck for the Lady Vols when sophomore Brittany Sheffey got tripped up in the midst of a tight pack and tumbled hard to the track with 800 to go. A dazed Sheffey, who moments earlier had been in good position to fight her way to an expected finals berth, picked herself up off the deck and finished the race, undoubtedly with a heavy heart. She wound up 12th in heat one and 24th overall, churning down the home stretch and crossing the line to the appreciative and respectful cheers of the crowd.
Clark filed a protest, hoping a review of the race would offer evidence of a cause for the fall. Apparently it did not meet the standard, as the jury of appeals denied the request and ended any chance of Sheffey receiving a pass to the final.
"I looked at our video on a small screen, and it appeared there may have been a little bumping, maybe, but it was hard to tell," Clark said. "After the review, with good video and monitors, they said everything was clean. I watched the race, but everything happened so fast, I couldn't tell what happened.
He said that before the fall, he wasn't worried about Sheffey being boxed in with two full laps to go.
"With 800 to go, she had time to get out of the pack and figure something out, but somehow her feet got tangled up and she was down," Clark said. "It's track & field; these things happen. She's not the first athlete to go down, and she won't be the last. Unfortunately, it was her today."
The string of misfortune didn't end there, as the Vols didn't have the days they anticipated in the men's pole vault and javelin throw. Sophomore Robert Rasnick cleared the opening bar in the vault on his second try at 16-4 3/4 (5.00m), but his three attempts at 16-10 (5.15m) came up short. He wound up tied for 18th. Sadly, senior Brad Holtz saw his fine career come to a close, as he failed to traverse the opening height. In the javelin, senior Matt Maloney, making his fourth NCAA appearance on the runway where his collegiate days began as a member of Oregon's team, saw his career in orange come to a close when he did not register a fair mark.
To end the day, the Lady Vols sent out the 4x400m relay combination of sophomore Ellen Wortham, freshman Martinique Octave, senior Kimarra McDonald and sophomore Charity Honeycutt. With usual leg Phoebe Wright presumably saving her strength for Saturday's final in the 800m run, the Big Orange women managed a time of 3:40.73 that left them sixth in heat two and 19th overall.
On Friday, Tennessee will have entries in two women's finals. Wright, the NCAA leader in the 800, will attempt to become only the fifth woman to complete a season sweep of the event at the indoor and outdoor national meets. Also running is senior Jackie Areson, who will race in the 5K and try to improve upon a third-place finish indoors. CBS College Sports Network will carry Friday's action live from 8 to 10 p.m. Eastern time, with Wright's race falling at 8:50 p.m. and Areson's at 9:40 p.m.
For live results, the link is http://www.flashresults.com/2010_Meets/outdoor/NCAA/ and the live video link is http://all-access.cbssports.com/player.html?DB_OEM_ID=500&code=ncaa.
Javelin Throw Finals: NM - Matt Maloney
1500m Semifinals: 24. Brittany Sheffey, 4:36.85p/12th, ht. 1
800m Final: Phoebe Wright
5000m Final: Jackie Areson
200m Final: Evander Wells
400m Hurdles Semifinals: 18. Ellen Wortham, 59.05p/6th, ht. 1
DNF - did not finish; DNR - did not run; DQ - disqualified; f - foul; fr - facility record; m - meters; mr - meet record; NH - No Height; NM - No Mark; nwi - no wind index; p - prelims; sr - school record; ! - personal