Feb. 2, 2011
By Eric Trainer
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- After a split-squad weekend, the University of Tennessee men's and women's teams will reconvene as one entity for a trip this weekend, as they head to New York City's Armory for the New Balance Collegiate Invitational.
More than 100 schools will be on hand on Friday and Saturday at one of the nation's top indoor gatherings of track & field talent outside the NCAA Championships. The field will include SEC foes Arkansas, Florida, LSU and South Carolina. Also among the throng will be Baylor, BYU, Duke, Georgetown, Houston, Kansas, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UCLA and Villanova.
Tennessee has two NCAA qualifying performances this season, including one Vol and one Lady Vol. On the men's side, freshman Justin Hunter has looked very impressive since coming over from the football team. After opening at the Kentucky Invitational with a national-qualifying leap and UT freshman record of 26-1 in the long jump, Hunter came back last weekend to card a half-inch improvement at the Penn State National meet. That mark of 26-1 1/2 ranks him No. 7 nationally and fourth in the SEC. He remains undefeated in 2011.
For the Lady Vols, Jackie Areson punched her ticket to the NCAA Indoor meet last weekend, uncorking a school-, meet- and facility-best of 9:01.91 to win the invitational section of the 3000m at Penn State. The senior ranks No. 2 in the NCAA and No. 1 in the SEC through three weekends of action. Areson will not make the trip to New York, though, as she rests up for a shot at a 5000m qualifying mark at the Husky Classic in Seattle, Wash., on Feb. 11-12.
A pair of Lady Vols who have narrowly missed the NCAA auto mark will take aim at qualifying this weekend. That duo includes junior Chanelle Price and senior Liz Costello. Price ranks third nationally in the 800m at 2:05.61, just 61/100ths of a second off the mark. Costello stands seventh in the NCAA in the 3000m at 9:15.39, just off the 9:13 plateau. While she may not run the 3K in back-to-back weekends, Costello projects to join Price as part of a distance medley relay unit that Clark sends out with the goal of qualifying in the Big Apple. Ellen Wortham (400m), Brittany Jones (400m) and Brittany Sheffey (1200m/1600m) are obvious candidates to join them.
For the Vols, redshirt freshman sprinter Dentarius Locke appears to be on the verge of following in Hunter's and Areson's footsteps. He ranks No. 5 in the SEC in the 60m dash at 6.70. The NCAA auto mark is 6.60. Locke stands sixth in the league in the 200m at 21.15, with the auto standard being 20.83.
The NCAA Indoor meet will be held March 11-12 in College Station, Texas.
Live results from the New Balance Collegiate Invitational will be available at http://ny.milesplit.com/meets/74257.