Feb. 1, 2003
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.
As productive as the first day of the Penn State National Meet was for the University of Tennessee women's track & field team, Saturday was even better. Nicole Cook bagged an NCAA provisional en route to second place in the 800 meters, Dee Dee Trotter and Toyin Olupona were first and third in the 200m, and the 4x400m relay captured second to pace Head Coach J.J. Clark's squad at Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track.
Cook, running her first half-mile race of the 2003 campaign after earning All-America honors indoors and out last season as a freshman,
rolled to an impressive 2:07.54 result to place herself easily below the provisional of 2:09.00 and within striking distance of the 2:06.20
automatic standard. That time was good enough to rank her first among collegians and second overall just behind the 2:07.31 readout of
unattached competitor Jill Snyder, who was a three-time All-American and four-time ACC champ in the 1500m at Wake Forest. Nikeya
Green, a 2002 800m All-American from Wake Forest, was third in 2:07.96.
The race couldn't have shaped up any better for Cook, who had the good fortune to have 2000 U.S. Olympic 800m standout Jearl Miles-Clark setting the pace through the first two and a half laps. After completing 500 meters as part of her training plan for the afternoon (she also won the 400m in 54.22), Miles-Clark dropped out and passed the leader's torch to Snyder, with Cook giving chase a few steps back.
Despite a strong kick on the final lap, and a hard close down the stretch that resembled her charge to victory at the SEC Outdoor Championships, Cook came up just short in her quest for number one. She did not, however, miss out on the opportunity to log a qualifying mark or finish ahead of her college peers.
Her debut performance topped her 2002 opener of 2:11.36 at the Kentucky Invitational on Jan. 12 and surpassed her first provisional as a rookie, a 2:08.27 reading on Feb. 9 at the Virginia Tech Challenge. Cook would go on to post an indoor season best of 2:06.92 to place third at the SEC Championships.
In the 200m, Trotter cranked out a season-best 24.19 and overcame a slow start to take the crown. The sophomore from Decatur, Ga., didn't get out of the blocks as she would have liked, but as is always the case, her chase speed was out of this world. With the hometown fans sensing victory for Penn State's Consuella Moore, Trotter never gave up, closing the Nittany Lion's sizeable advantage and nipping her at the line by 2/10ths of a second. OIupona, meanwhile, turned in a career-best time of 24.41 to take third and finish just behind Moore as she did in Friday night's 60m dash finals.
Trotter's contribution wasn't finished with the 200m, as she submitted a stellar anchor leg to join junior Christina Billings (Madison, Wis.), Cook and sophomore Antoinette Gorham (Glenarden, Md.) for a second-place jaunt of 3:44.09 in the 4x400m relay. That result, which also featured a superb second leg by Cook, was Tennessee's best of the year and just four seconds off the NCAA provisional.
In the 3000 meters, senior Sharon Dickie (Grand Blanc, Mich.) rebounded nicely from her provisional Friday night in the tiring 5000 meters to chart a 9:37.63 and take seventh place. That mark was just off the 9:35.00 NCAA safety and was right on Dickie's career-best reading of 9:36.65 that she posted way back in 1999 during her freshman season. Junior Jessica Southers (Ashland, Ky.) and sophomore Elizabeth McCalley (Knoxville, Tenn.) were 26th and 39th in the 3K in personal bests of 10:01.54 and a 10:24.17, respectively.
Redshirt freshman Brooke Novak (Kaukauna, Wis.), who won the 3000m in her first individual race as a Lady Vol last weekend, made her collegiate debut in the mile run at Penn State. The Wisconsin record-holder in the 1600m survived being jostled, boxed in and getting spiked to kick her way to first in her heat and ninth overall in 5:00.10. Teamate Elizabeth McCalley, a sophomore from Knoxville, Tenn., was 35th in 5:24.54.
In the 400 meters, freshman Caitlin Ward (Gibsonia, Pa.) led a trio of Tennessee sprinters, notching a PR clocking of 58.17 to place 20th, while Billings was 26th in 58.46 and Gorham opened her second season in 49th at 60.01. In field event action, junior Kelly Flowers (Westerville, Ohio) was 23rd in the high jump at 5-0.25/1.53m, and junior Janine Tessarzik (Altamont, N.Y.) was unable to land a measurable mark in the shot put.
Upon Further Review...The results for the pole vault were re-posted on Saturday, and there was a shuffling in the order of finish. Tennessee's Christie Elwin, Lauren McNeil, Jessica Andrews, Kendra Rhyne and Jessica Reust are now 4th, 13th, 14th, 16th and 32nd. Previously, they were listed as second, 10th, eighth, 16th and 30th, respectively.