March 24, 2010
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The University of Tennessee track & field programs will kick off their 2010 outdoor campaigns this weekend, with student-athletes competing at a pair of meets almost as far apart as you can get in the continental United States.
Lady Vol senior Jackie Areson, a two-time All-American indoors this season, will be the lone Big Orange representative at the Stanford Invitational, competing in either the 5,000 or 10,000 meters on Friday night at the Cardinal's Cobb Track & Angell Field. Meanwhile, the bulk of Tennessee's men's and women's teams will be in Tallahassee, Fla., set to take part in the FSU Relays on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Florida State's Mike Long Track.
The Vols are hoping to get the ball rolling outdoors after an uncharacteristic start indoors. Evander Wells was UT's lone NCAA representative, placing 12th in the 60 meters. He was fourth in the 200m at SECs and seventh in the 60m.
UT had several NCAA provisional qualifiers whose solid marks left them just shy of making the national meet. That group included Desmond Brown (long jump), Joe Berry and Robert Rasnick (pole vault), Peter Sigilai (mile), Kyle Stevenson (200m) and the 4x400m relay unit of John Hewitt, Samdi Fraser, Terrance Livingston and Varick Tucker.
The Vols will have some key additions outdoors, with All-America javelin thrower Matt Maloney joining the mix and Brad Holtz giving Tennessee a strong trio of pole vaulters. Maloney, who redshirted last season, was the SEC runner-up in 2007 and 2008 and placed ninth at the NCAA Championships in 2007. Holtz has scored in four consecutive SEC meets, including a second-place outcome indoors last season.
The Lady Vols are coming off a runner-up finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships two weekends ago and a fourth-place outcome at the SEC Indoor meet. Thus far, the stars of 2010 have included seniors Phoebe Wright and Jackie Areson and sophomores Chanelle Price and Brittany Sheffey.
Wright swept NCAA and SEC Indoor Championships in the 800 meters, while Price was fourth in that event at NCAAs and second at SECs. Areson won the 5000m at SEC Indoors and logged finishes of third in the 5K and fourth in the 3K at the NCAA meet. Sheffey was the SEC runner-up in the mile and 3K and anchored the distance medley team to victory with Price, Ellen Wortham and Wright also carrying the baton. All five were named USTFCCCA All-Americans.
The Lady Vols are expected to get immediate help from a pair of women who sat out the indoor season. Freshman Aslynn Halvorson redshirted the indoor season and should be an impact performer in the discus after throwing 169-5 in high school. Kimarra McDonald is a fifth-year senior who had only outdoor eligibility remaining. She was a key component of UT's relays last season, helping the 4x800m unit to an American record and the 4x400m tandem to fourth at the SEC Outdoor meet.