Feb. 25, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky, -- Led by Annie Alexander's victory in the women's shot put, the Tennessee men's and women's teams generated points in three events apiece Saturday on day two of the 2012 SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships.
The Lady Vols, fueled by 10 points from Alexander, stand in third place in the women's team standings with 26. Arkansas is atop the leaderboard with 48, followed by Florida with 40, while LSU is fourth at 18. The Vols are in ninth in the men's race with six points. Florida leads the way with 50, trailed by Arkansas with 44.
Entering the meet as the favorite in the women's shot put, Alexander captured Tennessee's first SEC championship of the weekend. The senior from Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, who won the 2008 SEC Indoor shot title, completed a career bookend with her victory at Nutter Field House. Her mark of 55 feet, 11 3/4 inches gave her conference shot crown number four and overall SEC victory number six of her career. She did so with her first attempt of the competition and prevailed over Florida's Keely Medeiros (55-8 1/2). Sophomore teammate Aslynn Halvorson produced a career-best toss of 49-7 1/4 to chip in a bonus, sixth-place outcome for UT.
Senior Ellen Wortham bounced back in strong fashion from a disappointing evening in the pentathlon on Friday, coming within a quarter of an inch of winning the women's long jump. Beginning the meet with only a season best of 18-8 1/2 registered at the Kentucky Invitational in the first meet of the season, Wortham soared to 20-5 on her final try to snare runner-up honors after entering attempt number six in fifth place. Her mark moved her to No. 5 on UT's all-time performers list and to No. 15 in the NCAA this season.
Senior Brittany Sheffey closed out the evening and Saturday's Lady Vol scoring with a fourth-place effort in the 3000 meters. After placing third last season and second in 2010, Sheffey overcame being boxed in and some serious jostling to finish in a flurry with a season-best clocking of 9:31.86. It marked the 12th time she had scored in SEC competition.
Junior Drew Thomas got the Vols on the scoreboard for the first time on day two, taking sixth in the weight throw. He scored three points for Team Orange with a career-best toss of 59-4 1/4, marking the first SEC scoring for the Greeneville, Tenn., native.
Desmond Brown contributed two more to the ledger, leaping to seventh in the men's long jump at 24-3. It marked the third time he had scored in league action, grabbing seventh indoors in 2010 and fifth outdoors that same season.
Junior Chris Bodary joined Thomas in breaking through as a conference point-producer. His season-best performance of 8:20.77 earned him a point for eighth place in the 3000 meters.
The Big Orange earned nine more scoring opportunities by advancing runners to the Sunday finals in seven different events.
The Lady Vols racked up a trio of qualifiers in the women's 800 meters, led by defending champion Chanelle Price. The senior won section two and had the No. 2 qualifying mark at 2:06.62. Junior Nijgia Snapp crossed the line right behind Price in 2:06.98 for the No. 3 overall reading, while sophomore Kianna Ruff was third in section one at 2:08.14 for the fifth-best advancing time. That group finished first, fifth and sixth, respectively, a year ago.
Tennessee moved along one each out of the women's and men's 60m hurdles prelims to Sunday's finals. Wortham posted the second-fastest time in the women's field. After running a career-best 8.35 in the pentathlon 60m hurdles on Friday evening, she lowered her personal best to 8.34 on Saturday to win heat two. In the men's qualifying race, senior Terry Benson also logged a PR, clocking in at 8.04 to finish third in heat one and fifth-fastest of the advancers.
Sheffey, last year's SEC Outdoor 1500m champion, earned herself a spot in the mile final indoors. Her 4:43.55 effort was the second-best of the advancers. She was second in the event in 2010 and fourth in 2009.
Vol freshman Jamol James earned himself a lane in his first SEC final despite only being on campus since January. The speedster from Trinidad & Tobago blazed down the track in 6.73 to finish second in heat two of the 60m dash prelims and fifth-fastest of the qualifiers. Vol footballer Devrin Young, competing in his first collegiate meet, was UT's second finisher. His mark of 6.91 left him 18th.
UT also boasted qualifiers in the women's and men's 200 meters. Senior Brittany Jones provided the Lady Vols their first sprint finalist at the meet, qualifying in the women's 200 meters. After cruising around the track in a personal-best 23.91 to wind up third in a fleet heat four, she'll enter the blocks on Sunday for her first individual SEC final as the seventh-seeded runner. Sophomore Jarael Nelvis earned a lane in his first SEC final as well. His season-best readout of 21.34 left him third in heat two, but that mark ranked eighth-best of those advancing.
"We had some good performances today," UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark said. "Drew scored in the weight, Desmond got points in the long jump, Terry Benson had a PR, Chris Bodary ended up the day with a point, Jamol (James) made it back in the short sprint and Jarael (Nelvis) advanced in the 200. These are good signs for our men's team.
"On the women's side, Ellen came back as champions do after not having a favorable day yesterday and responded with a personal best and second-place finish. That's very positive.
"Annie got her fourth SEC victory, Brittany added some points for us and qualified in the mile, we advanced three in the 800 and moved on Ellen and Brittany in the hurdles and 200. We've had some movement and advancement and we just need to keep the excitement going."
The final day of the meet commences at 11 a.m. on Sunday, starting with the men's pole vault and women's weight throw and triple jump. The first running events are the women's and men's 60m hurdles at 1:30 and 1:40 p.m., respectively.
Weight Throw Final: 6. Drew Thomas, 59-4.25/18.09m!
Long Jump Final: 7. Desmond Brown, 24-3/7.39m; 15. Tyler Anderson, 23-0.50/7.02m
3000m Final: 8. Chris Bodary, 8:20.77^
60m Hurdles Prelims: adv. Terry Benson, 8.04p!/3rd, ht. 1 (5th)
60m Dash Prelims: adv. Jamol James, 6.73p/2nd, ht. 2 (5th); dna - Devrin Young, 6.91p!/6th, ht. 3 (18th);
dna - Reggie Juin, 6.98p/8th, ht. 1 (22nd); dna - Rajion Neal, 7.00p!/8th, ht. 2 (23rd); dna - Arnez Hardnick, 7.05p/8th, ht. 3 (24th)
200m Prelims: adv. Jarael Nelvis, 21.34^p/3rd, ht. 2 (8th); dna - Jamol James, 21.58^p!/1st, ht. 7 (13th); dna - Reggie Juin, 22.04^p!/2nd, ht. 6 (22nd); dna - Arnez Hardnick, 22.40^p/4th, ht. 8 (29th); dna - Rajion Neal, 22.55^p!/2nd, ht. 5 (30th)
400m Prelims: dna - Varick Tucker, 47.46^p!/2nd, ht. 1 (10th); dna - Michael Williams, 49.12^p!/2nd, ht. 8 (23rd)
Mile Prelims: dna - Daniel Tobin, 4:15.61^p/4th, ht. 2 (11th)
800m Prelims: dna - Nick Kaiser, 1:53.17^p/5th, ht. 1 (13th)
No Vols Competing In Heptathlon
Shot Put Final: 1. Annie Alexander, 55-11.75/17.06m; 6. Aslynn Halvorson, 49-7.25/15.12m!
Long Jump Final: 2. Ellen Wortham, 20-5/6.22m!; 13. Kia Jackson, 19-1.50/5.83m
3000m Final: 4. Brittany Sheffey, 9:31.85^
Pole Vault Final: 11. Linda Hadfield, 11-11.75/3.65m; nm - Erin Champion
60m Hurdles Prelims: adv. Ellen Wortham, 8.34p!/1st, ht. 2 (2nd); dna - Bianca Blair, 8.49p!/5th, ht. 1 (12th); dna - Kasha McDougald, 8.80p!/7th, ht. 1 (19th)
800m Prelims: adv. Chanelle Price, 2:06.62^p/1st, ht. 2 (2nd); adv. - Nigjia Snapp, 2:06.98^p/2nd, ht. 2 (3rd); adv. Kianna Ruff, 2:08.14^p/3rd, ht. 1 (5th); dna - Brittney Jackson, 2:12.19^p/4th, ht. 3 (13th); dna - Ty-Vonna Johnson, 2:15.13^p/5th, ht. 3 (15th)
Mile Prelims: adv. Brittany Sheffey, 4:43.55^p/2nd, ht. 1 (2nd); dna - Kelsey Kane, 4:57.36^p!/7th, ht. 1 (17th); dna - Amber Zimmerman, 4:57.59^p!/8th, ht. 1 (18th); dna - Elizabeth Altizer, 5:05.58^p/8th, ht. 3 (27th)
200m Prelims: adv. Brittany Jones, 23.91^p!/3rd, ht. 4 (7th); dna - Ashley Harris, 24.27^p!/3rd, ht. 5 (15th); dna - Julia Petree, 25.19^p!/4th, ht. 6 (26th)
60m Dash Prelims: dna Kia Jackson, 7.48p/4th, ht. 2 (11th)
400m Prelims: dna - Julia Petree, 56.29^p!/2nd, ht. 9 (29th)
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