Feb. 5, 2010
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
NEW YORK -- The University of Tennessee men's and women's track & field teams opened up competition at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational on Friday and came away with their fourth NCAA automatic qualifying performance of the season and another provisional mark.
The first night highlight for the Lady Vols at The Armory, just like a year ago, was the distance medley relay. The Big Orange women came up a mere 2/100ths of a second shy of winning their second straight title, but they emerged from the race with the program's fourth automatic qualifying mark of the campaign. And, they did so with the No. 4 clocking in school history.
Carrying the stick for UT were Brittany Sheffey, Ellen Wortham, Chanelle Price and Phoebe Wright, with the unit posting a readout of 11 minutes, 2.85 seconds. That mark ranks as the number three effort in the NCAA this season and No. 1 in the SEC.
In the picture, but running sixth through the first two legs, the Lady Vols moved into better position on Price's 800m leg. With UT exchanging the baton even with Arkansas and BYU entering the closing 1600m leg, Wright quickly moved to the lead and held it until the final meter. Villanova, fueled by Sheila Reid's torrid turn with the stick and lean at the line, claimed the title in 11:02.83.
"The most important thing for us was to get the auto mark," UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark said. "It is always nice to win, but at this point in the season getting the auto was my goal. Even when we win, the mark is what gets us to the NCAA meet, and that's the focal point."
In the women's shot put, Lady Vol Annie Alexander was the top collegiate finisher, taking second overall out of 45 competitors in the championship division with a best toss of 52 feet, eight inches. It marked the 14th time in 17 indoor tries at the shot that Alexander has finished either first or second.
For the Big Orange men, Desmond Brown had the best effort of the proceedings on Friday. The sophomore joined Evander Wells (60m, 200m) as a provisional qualifier for the NCAA meet by soaring to a career-best of 25 feet in the long jump. Brown's fifth-place measurement ranks as the No. 3 distance in the SEC this season.
The Vols placed two in the finals of the 60-meter dash, with Evander Wells posting a sixth-place finish in 6.75 seconds and Kyle Stevenson taking seventh in 6.77. Wells and Stevenson had made the finals by virtue of their readings of 6.78 and 6.79 in the preliminary round, with Wells winning heat three and Stevenson taking second in heat two.
The Tennessee men also rolled to a season best of 9:51.06 in the distance medley relay, which ranks them as the No. 2 unit in the SEC this season. Carrying the stick for the Vols were Emerson Peacock, Terrence Livingston, Joe Franklin and Peter Sigilai, who briefly took the lead on the 1600m anchor leg with about four laps remaining.
"Our DMR had to deal with some misfortune out on the track," Clark said. "Things didn't go our way with that, but they definitely showed a lot of promise. I believe we are going to do very well in that event down the road.
"Unfortunately, we had to jump over a runner who had fallen on the track and there was bumping going on. That threw us off a little bit, but this is track & field and that stuff happens sometimes. I know this group will be resilient."
In his second meet of the season, Ben Bartholomew came up with an eighth-place showing in the championship division of the shot put. His toss of record measured 53-6 1/4.
In the men's 5000 meters, UT had three representatives in action, and two of them came through with personal-best clockings. Redshirt freshman Chris Bodary led the trio, carding a personal-record time of 14:30.02, while Steve Fassino turned in an indoor/outdoor lifetime best of 14:49.00 to place 15th. Chris Rapp was 17th in 14:58.16.
"I saw some really good things out there today," Clark said. "On the men's side, our long jumper, Desmond Brown, had a provisional mark, and that's great to see. Evander and Kyle ran well and made the finals of the 60 today. It's just pleasing to see us moving along in a positive manner."
Tennessee will be back at the track on Saturday, with action beginning at 9:15 a.m.
FRIDAY WOMEN'S RESULTS AT THE NEW BALANCE COLLEGIATE INVITATIONAL
200m Prelims (College): 32. Martinique Octave, 25.79! (2nd, ht. 4)
400m Prelims (Champ): 40. Martinique Octave, 57.53p! (3rd, ht. 10)
60mH Prelims (Champ.): 38. Ellen Wortham, 8.83p (5th, ht. 2)
60m Prelims (Champ.): 28. Kia Jackson, 7.66p (5th, ht. 5)
Long Jump (College): 26. Kia Jackson, 17-11.50/5.47m
FRIDAY MEN'S RESULTS AT THE NEW BALANCE COLLEGIATE INVITATIONAL
5000m (Champ.): 9. Chris Bodary, 14:30.02!; 15. Steve Fassino 14:49.00!; 17. Chris Rapp, 14:58.16
400m Prelims (Champ.): 27. John Hewitt, 48.52p (2nd, ht. 10); 30. Alan Bachman, 48.63p (2nd, ht. 11); FS - Varick Tucker, D
60m Final (Champ.): 6. Evander Wells, 6.75; 7. Kyle Stevenson, 6.77
60m Prelims (Champ.): Adv., Evander Wells, 6.78p (1st, ht. 3); Adv., Kyle Stevenson, 6.79p (2nd, ht. 2)
DMR (Champ.): 7. Emerson Peacock / Terrance Livingston / Joe Franklin / Peter Sigilai, 9:51.06
Shot Put (Champ.): 8. Ben Bartholomew, 53-6.25/16.31m
Long Jump (Champ.): 5. Desmond Brown, 25-0/7.62!+
* NCAA automatic qualifier, + - NCAA provisional qualifier, ! - Personal best, Adv. - Advanced to next round, DNF - Chris Kane, F - Foul, FS - False start, m - meters, mr - Meet record, NM - No mark, p - Prelims, sr - School record
Many events had both championship (top entered competitors) and college (open) sections