Feb. 24, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Ellen Wortham's first day at the SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships didn't go as planned. After getting off to a great start in the first event of the women's pentathlon, a slip-up in the high jump foiled the Lady Vol senior's bid for a league title Friday at Nutter Field House.
After continuing on with event three of five and placing 11th in the shot put, the Maryville product agreed with her coaches that it was time to call it a day. After missing a chance to improve upon pentathlon finishes of fifth as a freshman, fourth as a sophomore and third as a junior at the SEC meet, Wortham will now turn her focus toward the open 60m hurdles and long jump as well as helping UT in the 4x400m relay at this meet.
"A no height in the high jump from Ellen today wasn't what we were expecting," UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark said. "Fortunately, she still has the long jump and the hurdles, and she could do very well in the finals of both. She also has the 4x4, and this unfortunate development gives her an opportunity to be very fresh for those events.
"Ellen is very positive; she's a champion. Things don't always go to plan, and you have to be very diligent and very focused on the entire meet. This is only one portion of it, and I believe she'll do well for us in the rest of the meet."
Wortham began the five-event battle with a purpose, bolting to a personal-record time of 8.35 seconds to card first place and 1,050 points in the 60-meter hurdles. That mark bettered her 13-day-old PR of 8.43, set at the Akron Invitational, and tied her with Pavi'Elle "Tiki" James as the fourth-fastest indoor hurdler in school history.
Misfortune struck in event number two, though, as Wortham was unable to clear the high jump bar at 5-2 1/4 and left a competition with no mark for the first time in her collegiate career. That meant zero points in the high jump and a fall to 13th place in the standings out of 14 competitors at that point.
Event three didn't offer Wortham much of an upward bump, as she finished 11th in the shot put. Her toss of 31-10 1/4 was good for only 510 points, keeping her in 13th overall with 1,560 points. At that point, the UT staff decided it was better for Wortham to cut her losses and come back fresh for day two.
Saturday's action begins at 11 a.m. with Drew Thomas in the men's weight throw. The first Lady Vol event is the pole vault, where Linda Hadfield and Erin Champion will take to the runway. In addition to finals in the women's long jump and shot put, men's long jump and men's and women's 3000 meters, there will be 12 prelim races involving Tennessee athletes.
No Vols Competing In Heptathlon
Pentathlon: W/D (14th) - Ellen Wortham, 1,560 pts. (60mH: 1st, 8.35!, 1050 pts.; High Jump: nm [5-2.25/1.58m]; Shot Put: 11th, 31-10.25/9.71m, 510 pts.; Long Jump: n/a 800m: n/a
* - NCAA Automatic Mark, ! - Personal Best, ^ - Oversized Track, $ - SEC Record, a - American Record, adv. - Advanced to next round, b - Banked Track, c - Collegiate Record, dna - Did Not Advance, dnf - Did Not Finish, dq - Disqualified, dnr - Did Not Run, F - Foul, f - Facility Record, fr - Freshman Record, fs - False Start, H - Heptathlon, h - Hand-Timed, mr - Meet Record, nm - No Mark, p - Time Run In Prelims, P - Pentathlon, sr - School Record, u - Undersized Track, w - World Record