Feb. 20, 2004
Perhaps the moon and stars weren't aligned, but the month and date certainly were, as University of Tennessee junior Toyin Olupona delivered a stellar performance Friday night in the Tennessee Invitational at Stokely Athletics Center.
Olupona rocketed to a victorious time of 6.74, on Feb. 20, to lay waste to Kelli White's 1999 UT 55-meter dash record of 6.76, which ironically enough also came on Feb. 20. And to further add to "The Twilight Zone" vibe, Olupona's reading toppled White's Stokely track standard of 6.84, also recorded on Feb. 20 (1998) by the 14-time All-American.
Adding icing to the joyous occasion was Olupona's procurement of an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Indoor Championships, which will be held in Fayetteville, Ark., on March 12-13. The Orillia, Ontario, Canada, product, with a time that converts to the third fastest in the collegiate ranks this season, will be making her second-straight trip to nationals and will join junior Nicole Cook (800 meters), junior Dee Dee Trotter (200m, 400m) and the distance medley relay of sophomore Brooke Novak, Trotter, Cook and senior Lindsay Hyatt among Tennessee's automatic entries to the NCAA meet. Others could certainly follow.
"We had a very nice tune-up meet with PRs in several event areas, a school record and a facility record as well as the auto and several provisionals," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "For Toyin
to break the school record, it indicates she is ready to run with anyone in the country.
"Toyin is very talented, and things are coming together as we approach the SEC meet," Clark said. "For her to do this tonight doesn't surprise me, but I'm really happy for her that things are falling into place. We look forward to more fast times in the future."
Finishing in second and third were freshman Tianna Madison (Elyria, Ohio) and Trotter (Decatur, Ga.), who clocked times of 6.87 and 6.93, respectively. Trotter's effort was an improvement over her previous 55m PR of 6.95, which came in the prelims as she and Madison posted a tie for the second-fastest qualifying time. Olupona's 6.84 was the top prelim time and tied White's old Stokely record.
The Canadian's school-record mark was the fifth during the 2004 indoor campaign by Clark's squad. She follows UT standards by Trotter in the 200 (23.19) and 400 (52.34) meters as well as those set by the 4x400m and distance medley relays. Still, Clark wanted to point out that Trotter's performance was worthy of note.
"I don't want to let Dee Dee's PR in the 55 meters get overshadowed by Toyin's accomplishment this evening," Clark said. "It is impressive when a 400m runner can drop down to the shorter race and run like that. It really displays the range she possesses."
Sophomore Caitlin Ward, who ranks second in the Southeastern Conference in the pentathlon with a score of 3,650, participated in four of the event's five disciplines at the Tennessee Invite. The Gibsonia, Pa., native started the day with a third-place and career-best effort of 5-3/1.60m in the high jump. Next, she charted a personal-best run of 8.74 in the 55m hurdles trials. After a first-place and PR heave of 37-4.50/11.39m in the "B" shot put, Ward capped off the evening with a ninth-place measurement of 16-5.25/5.01m in the long jump.
"Caitlin had PRs in three events, and she continues to show that she is ready to have a good pentathlon at the SEC meet," Clark said.
The Lady Vol pole vaulters went 1-2-3, with sophomore Jessica Reust (Knoxville, Tenn.) taking top honors with a clearance of 12-1.50/3.70m on her first try to best junior Kendra Rhyne (Andersonville, Tenn.), who went over the bar at that height in two attempts. Sophomore Jessica Andrews (Rockford, Tenn.) was third at 10-8/3.25m.
In the first event of the day, sophomores Sara Vigil (Tucson, Ariz.) and Lindsey McFarland (Austin, Texas) each recorded career bests in the weight throw to finish first and second, respectively, with heaves of 54-9.25/16.69m and 46-6/14.17m. McFarland came back later in the afternoon to take second in the "A" shot put with a personal-record throw of 43-5.25/13.24m, while Vigil was third at 41-9.25/12.73m.
Elsewhere, freshman Edra Finley (Mobile, Ala.) grabbed a victory with a career-best mark of 18-10/5.74m in the long jump, while sophomore Brooke Novak (Kaukauna, Wis.) and junior Elizabeth McCalley (Knoxville, Tenn.) got in some speed work by taking ninth and 15th in the 400 meters with career-topping runs of 61.17 and 64.02, respectively. Sophomore Catherine Wright (Knoxville, Tenn.) improved to 8.90 in the 55m hurdles, while junior Antoinette Gorham (Glenarden, Md.) was second in the 800 meters at 2:16.41.
Tennessee now turns it attention toward the SEC Indoor Championships next weekend. The Lady Vols will compete Feb. 27-29 at Nutter Fieldhouse in Lexington, Ky., where nine of the nation's top-25 teams will be in action.
STOKELY RECORDS FALL: In addition to Toyin Olupona's 6.74 in the 55m dash, two other facility marks fell. Unattached competitors Sharlene Fuller and Samantha George posted new times in the 55m hurdles (7.86) and 800 meters (2:11.30), replacing times by Melissa Morrison (7.87, 2/14/92) and Tammy King-Foster (2:11.79, 1/9/04).
|EVENT (NCAA DIV. I QUALIFYING MARKS)|
|Wt. Throw (Auto: 19.50, Prov: 18.50) Noon|
|High Jump (Auto: 1.84, Prov: 1.78) 2:45 p.m.|
|Pole Vault (Auto: 4.20, Prov: 3.95) 3:00 p.m.|
|Shot Put "A" (Auto: 16.50, Prov: 15.20) 3:10 p.m.|
|55m Trials (Auto: 6.79; Prov: 6.93) 5:00 p.m.|
|Qualified||Dee Dee Trotter||6.95p!|
|Long Jump (Auto: 6.40, Prov: 6.20) App. 5:30 p.m.|
|55m Finals (Auto: 6.79; Prov: 6.93) 5:40 p.m.|
|3rd||Dee Dee Trotter||6.93!+|
|55mH Trials (Auto: 7.61; Prov: 7.87) 6:05 p.m.|
|Shot Put "B" (Auto: 16.50, Prov: 15.20) 6:10 p.m.|
|55mH Finals (Auto: 7.61; Prov: 7.87) 6:45 p.m.|
|No Lady Vols Advanced|
|400m (Auto: 53.50, Prov: 55.10) u 7:15 p.m.|
|800m (Auto: 2:06.60, Prov: 2:09.40) u 7:55 p.m.|
|4x400m Relay (Auto: 3:37.70, Prov: 3:43.20) u 9:05 p.m.|
|No Lady Vols Entered|
b - Banked Track Qualifying Standard
dnf - Did Not Finish
dnr - Did Not Run
fr - Facility Record
nm - No Mark Recorded
p - Prelims
sr - School Record (Indoors)
u - Undersized Track Qualifying Standard
* - NCAA Automatic Qualifier
+ - NCAA Provisional Qualifier
! - Personal Record (Indoors)
^ - Oversized Track Qualifying Standard