March 1, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Four Lady Vols and four Vols are ticketed to compete in last chance meets this weekend, hoping to land NCAA automatic qualifying marks or at least improve their chances for receiving an at-large invitation to next week's NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships.
A trio of Vol pole vaulters and a sprinter will head to Blacksburg, Va., to compete at the Virginia Tech Final Qualifier on Saturday. Sophomore Chase Brannon (17-5 1/2), senior Robert Rasnick (17-3 3/4) and sophomore Tyler Porter (17-0 3/4) rank 21st, 30th and 48th, respectively, on the NCAA list and will focus on clearing higher bars at approximately 2:30 p.m. Brannon and Rasnick finished third and fourth at the SEC meet on Saturday.
Jamol James, meanwhile is coming off a fifth-place finish in the 60m dash at the SEC meet, tying his personal best at 6.72. That mark ties the true freshman for 37th in the nation right now. He has a 60m prelim race at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday and potentially a semifinal at 1:25 p.m. and a final at 2:15 p.m.
The Lady Vol 4x400m relay unit, which ranks ninth nationally with a time of three minutes, 34.76 seconds that it registered to place fourth at the SEC Indoor meet on Saturday, is not standing pat. The Tennessee coaching staff opted to play it safe and see whether seniors Ellen Wortham and Brittany Jones, sophomore Kianna Ruff and junior Martinique Octave can move up the NCAA list at the Alex Wilson Invitational at Notre Dame on Saturday. Race time is 2 p.m. Eastern time at Meyo Track.
Wortham, who ranks 19th nationally in the 400m dash at 53.49 and 21st in the long jump at 20-5, will take a crack at upward mobility in those events as well. The long jump, an event in which she was the SEC runner-up, is slated to begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, while the 400 is scheduled to begin at 12:20 p.m. on Saturday.
The 2012 NCAA Indoor meet will be held March 9-10 in Nampa, Idaho, and hosted by Boise State University. Last season, in terms of the events in which Tennessee is trying to qualify, the NCAA took 12 women's 4x4s, 17 women's long jumpers and 16 in the women's 400m. On the men's side, there were 17 men's pole vaulters and 18 in the 60m dash.
The Lady Vols already have qualified Annie Alexander in the shot put (58-1), Chanelle Price in the 800 meters (2:04.25) and the distance medley relay team (11:02.74). Nijgia Snapp ranks 14th in the women's 800m (2:05.49), while Vol Matthew Hoty stands 14th in the shot put at 62-3 1/4.