Jan. 9, 2003
The distance brigade and throws crew had the night off, and first-year Head Coach J.J. Clark was absent while attending the funeral of former Lady Vol Ilrey (Oliver) Sparks in Austin, Texas. Still, senior Christie Elwin tied for first in the pole vault and junior Kelly Flowers shared the high jump crown to enable the University of Tennessee women's track & field team to enjoy a limited, yet successful opening of its season in the Tennessee All-Comers Meet Thursday night at Stokely Athletics Center.
Elwin, from Adelaide, Australia, grabbed a share of the fifth indoor title
in her career, clearing 11-11.75/3.65m to match unattached competitor Sara
Young for top honors. UT redshirt freshman Jessica Andrews (Rockford,
Tenn.) was third at 10-6/3.20m, freshman Jessica Reust (Knoxville, Tenn.)
was fourth at 10-0/3.05m and sophomore Jamie Rebella (Merrill, Wis.) was
fifth in 9-6.25/2.90m in her first competition since switching over to the
vault from the triple jump. Sophomores Lauren McNeil (Easton, Pa.) and
Kendra Rhyne (Andersonville, Tenn.) competed but were unable to clear a
Flowers, meanwhile, tied for first place in the high jump, sailing over 5-2.25/1.58m to split accolades with Adrienne Duke of Alabama-Birmingham. It was the second-straight Tennessee All-Comers crown for the Westerville, Ohio, product. Lady Vol rookie Angela Pruitt (Evarts, Ky.) grabbed fifth place with a leap of 4-8.25/1.43m in her first time wearing a UT uniform.
Though the short sprint is not her specialty and she did not win her event on Thursday night, sophomore Dee Dee Trotter (Decatur, Ga.) did appear to pick up where she left off after a sensational freshman campaign. The rookie All-American debuted in 2003 with a second-place effort in the 55m dash, knocking out back-to-back personal records of 7.30 in the prelims and 7.29 in the finals.
Fellow sophomore Toyin Olupona (Orillia, Canada) was even faster, charting the evening's top reading of 7.06 in the prelims. She, Trotter and freshman Caitlin Ward (Gibsonia, Pa.) all qualified for the finals, but sprint coach Caryl Smith opted to hold Olupona out of the money race. Ward (7.60 in the prelims) and Flowers, who filled Olupona's lane in the finals, finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in 7.61 and 7.75. Also running in the prelims were sophomore Christina Billings (Madison, Wis.) in 7.63, Flowers in 7.67, freshman Catherine Wright (Knoxville, Tenn.) in 7.88 and Pruitt in 8.44.
Flowers and Wright also notched third-place outcomes in other events. Flowers did so with a long jump measurement of 16-7/5.05m in her first collegiate try at that discipline. Wright, meanwhile, ran a 9.25 in the prelims and 9.20 in the finals of the 55m hurdles. Ward posted a 9.76 reading in the hurdle prelims but did not run in the finals despite qualifying.
"It was a very, very good meet for us," said Assistant Coach Caryl Smith. "We had a lot of people perform very well for a first meet and several personal records, and that excites me. With a new staff and several first-year athletes, it was nice to have a chance to go through the pre-meet preparations and logistics that we will utilize. That will make next weekend a lot easier on everyone."
The Lady Vols will swing into full stride next weekend, as Clark's squad journies to Blacksburg, Va., to compete in the Virginia Tech Kroger Invitational at Rector Fieldhouse on Jan. 17-18.