Feb. 27, 2005
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Senior Nicole Cook unleashed a collegiate record in the 800 meters, and sophomore Felicia Guliford won her second event of the meet, fueling the fourth-ranked University of Tennessee women to victory Sunday at the Southeastern Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
The Lady Volunteers, who hoisted their first SEC Indoor trophy since winning the league's inaugural event in 1984, utillized those huge individual victories along with numerous other gutsy performances to tally 135.50 points and stave off a valiant challenge by the home-standing Arkansas Lady Razorbacks. Behind the energy of a partisan crowd, No. 21 UA rolled up 120 points to place second, followed by No. 2 LSU in third at 75.70 and No. 5 Florida in fourth at 74.50. Rounding out the women's team standings were No. 8 South Carolina (70.50), No. 18 Georgia (54), No. 7 Auburn (46), Alabama (36), Vanderbilt (19), Kentucky (14), Ole Miss (10) and Mississippi State (8).
"To be down 14 1/2 points (to Arkansas) after the second day and come back and win in this hostile environment - and by that I mean Arkansas's home track - is amazing," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "I thought winning the SEC cross country title on their course this season was hard. Being enclosed in this arena with the fans calling the Hogs and cheering on their team, it was very challenging.
"This result shows the hard work our team has put into moving up the SEC ladder. To be the champion in this conference means you have one of the best teams in the nation. It also
shows what a great coaching staff I have in my assistants and volunteer assistants, and it demonstrates the support we receive from our administration at UT."
Cook was the epitome of poise and was simply brilliant in capturing her second-straight SEC Indoor 800m crown. The Petersburg, Va., native led wire-to-wire, holding off talented Arkansas competitor Aneita Denton (2:01.96) with a phenomenal 2:00.75 count that easily eclipsed the 2:01.65 collegiate record set in 1994 by Wisconsin's Amy Wickus.
The 10-time All-American also brought down Hazel Clark's (Coach Clark's younger sister) 1999 SEC standard of 2:01.84, surpassed Jearl Miles-Clark's (Coach Clark's wife) Tyson Center mark of 2:01.00 and laid waste to Delisa Walton's 23-year-old Lady Vol record of 2:02.4. Cook, who also got seventh-place scoring help from teammate Antoinette Gorham (Glenarden, Md.) in 2:09.06, also became Tennessee's first SEC Indoor repeat individual champion since Patty Wiegand collected back-to-back 3000-meter titles in 1990 and 1991.
"I knew if I got out fast and kept moving, it would be a fast time," Cook said. "I had no idea I would set a record today, though. I felt good the whole race, and when I started the last lap, I knew I had more in me.
"Breaking the record (collegiate) was one of my goals this season, and I accomplished it. I just thank God for blessing me with the ability to do it."
"Nicole trains very hard, she's a big talent, and she's a great athlete to work with," Clark said. "To run a two-minute time that is one of the better times in the world - forget the conference - and to come in here and do that under pressure, wire-to-wire is remarkable. Wickus's record stood for 11 years, so you know it is a tough mark. This one is going to be even tougher to break."
Guliford, meanwhile, came into the Hogs' lair, a veritable shrine to the school's long-time distance prowess, and walked away with victories in the 3000 meters on Saturday and the 5000 meters on Sunday. Her second run to glory came in a career-best and NCAA provisional time of 16:43.15 and gave the Lady Vols their first individual double-event winner at the meet since Wiegand seized first in the mile and 3K in 1990.
The Gallup, N.M., product, who uncorked the eighth-fastest indoor 5K by a UT woman, was content to keep pace with a pack of five UA runners for most of the race before flashing the final-lap speed that also enabled her to shake her opponents in the 3K on Saturday night. By winning both events and contributing 20 points to her team's point total, Guliford matched Florida thrower Candice Scott for the SEC Commissioner's Trophy, which is given to the meet's high-point scorer.
"I knew they (Arkansas) would send their runners out fast, so I went, too," Guliford said. "The plan was to stay with them and kick at the end. Mentally, I felt good, and that set the tone for me. I knew I was going to run well.
"I didn't really feel pressure, because pressure is what you make of it. I knew Arkansas had a huge distance group, but I also knew my teammates were counting on me."
"Felicia really stepped forward and came through this weekend," Clark said. "She is starting to show the type of talent she possesses. I thought she showed great poise to run two very solid races in a short period of time that helped us win an SEC title."
Teammates Carly Matthews (Winston-Salem, N.C.), Katie Flaute (Dayton, Ohio) and Megan Cauble (Knoxville, Tenn.) resisted the urge to join the faster front pack, and it paid off. Matthews, a sophomore, joined in the 15-point scoring spree by taking sixth in a career-best 17:12.78, while Flaute, a junior, secured seventh in 17:14.69. Cauble finished just outside the points in ninth at 17:16.32.
Junior Ariel Brooks (Miami, Fla.) opened the scoring on the final day with a sixth-place effort in the weight throw. Her school-record and NCAA provisional fling of 63-5/19.33m toppled Diane Slinden's 2002 standard of 58-8.75/17.90m and earned three points for Team Orange and brought its cumulative total to 36.50, which trailed homestanding Arkansas (52), Florida (45.50) and Georgia (40) heading into Sunday's first event on the track.
In that initial race of the day, however, Tennessee moved back into the team championship picture in a big way, thanks to an orange-tinted lock-down of places two through five that generated a whopping 23 points in the 60-meter dash. Freshman Courtney Champion (Lawrenceville, Ga.) continued her spectacular showing at this meet, surging to runner-up honors in a career-best and NCAA automatic mark of 7.26 behind the victorious Fana Ashby of Auburn (7.21). Champion's clocking was the third-best in Lady Vol history and puts her number two in the NCAA ranks and number three among American women in 2005.
Champion's Rocky Top comrades were right behind her in a show of force. Rookie Cleo Tyson (Huntsville, Texas) snared third in a career-best and NCAA provisional readout of 7.32, sophomore Tianna Madison (Elyria, Ohio) took fourth in a personal-record and provisional effort of 7.34 and senior Toyin Olupona (Orillia, Ontario, Canada) crossed the line fifth in a provisional of 7.35. All four of those young ladies are now among the top-eight ranked sprinters in the NCAA this season.
Next, junior Brooke Novak (Kaukana, Wis.) and sophomore Mindy Sullivan (Lubbock, Texas) combined for 13 crucial points in the mile run. Novak, the fourth-place SEC finisher a year ago, closed strong down the home stretch and overtook Mississippi State's Jennifer McPherson just before the finish line to collect runner-up acclaim in 4:55.70. Sullivan, who was switched from the 800 meters to the mile just before the meet's entry cutoff date last week, made Head Coach J.J. Clark's decision look very wise. The Texan kicked hard over the final 200 meters to move from ninth position to a valuable fourth-place outcome in 4:58.07 and score individually for the initial time in SEC competition.
Freshman LaTonya Loche (Bastrop, La.) and junior Patricia Hall (St. Ann, Jamaica) deposited four more points in the UT account in the 400 meters, as each registered career-topping and NCAA provisional readouts to place sixth in 53.02 and eighth in 53.68, respectively. Loche's effort moved her to number two on the Lady Vol all-time performers list behind Dee Dee Trotter and ranks her among the top 10 among NCAA women this season.
Tennessee's impressive display of sprinters continued in the 200 meters, where Champion charted runner-up distinction in her second event of the weekend with a 23.18 readout. Also contributing to UT's 12-point haul in the one-lapper, which gave the Lady Vols their first lead of the meet at 100.50-90 over UA, was classmate Tyson, who met the auto standard with a personal record of 23.25 to place fifth. Loche, meanwhile, just missed the point parade with a ninth-place effort of 23.86.
After Arkansas briefly retook the lead after the high jump with three events to be scored, the Lady Vols bounced back with the clinching blows. First, the DMR combination of Sullivan, Olupona, Cook and Novak came from behind to win Tennessee's second straight title in that event, covering the distance in 11:40.94 after Novak's ferocious kick did in the anchors from South Carolina and Kentucky.
Next, sophomore Edra Finley's third-place finish in the triple jump became official, adding six points into the hopper. Her career-best and NCAA provisional leap of 41-8/12.70m pushed the Big Orange's advantage over Arkansas to 14.50 points, 131.50-117, thus clinching victory prior to the running of the meet-closing 4x400-meter relay.
Tennessee did field a 4x4, however, and the lineup of Madison, Hall, Loche and Tyson ferried the stick around the Tyson oval in 3:36.27 to finish fifth, collect four points and wind up the weekend with 135.50 points. That sum ranks as the second-highest point total since the 1984 UT squad accumulated 148.5 en route to victory with Coach Clark's sister, Joetta, helping lead that group with a title in the 880-yard run.
"It's ironic that our first SEC Indoor title in 1984 came during Joan Cronan's first year as athletics director when my older sister Joetta was a senior at Tennessee," Clark said. "Now I am here, and the Lady Vols win another title. What's more important is the effort and time this team put in and the poise it exhibited the entire weekend.
"I said at the beginning of the weekend that we were trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together and make a pretty picture. That is exactly what we did."
With the five event victories, the Big Orange matched the 1990 Lady Vols for most wins at the SEC Indoor meet. All told, UT came up with first in the long jump from Madison, the 800 meters by Cook, the 3K and 5K by Guliford and the DMR by Sullivan, Olupona, Cook and Novak.
Clark's squad will now turn its attention toward the NCAA Indoor Championships, which will be held in Fayetteville on March 11 and 12. Tennessee will be attempting to improve upon its fourth-place finish of a year ago and pursue the women's track & field team's first NCAA crown of any kind and second title overall, following the program's victory at the 1981 AIAW Outdoor Championships.
|FRIDAY, FEB. 25|
|Pentathlon (Auto: 4,050, Prov: 3,700)b 5 p.m.|
|(60mH: 9.23!/862/15th; HJ: 4-11/1.50m/621/t18th; SP: 37-0.50/11.29m!/614/5th; LJ: 17-1.25/5.21m/617/15th; 800m: 2:27.69b/722/5th)|
|SATURDAY, FEB. 26|
|Pole Vault Final (Auto: 4.20, Prov: 3.95) Noon|
|3rd (6 pts)||Jessica Reust||13-1/3.99m!+|
|t8th (0.5 pts)||Jessica Andrews||12-5.50/3.80m!|
|60mH Prelims (Auto: 8.15, Prov: 8.43) 1:50 p.m.|
|13th||Edra Finley||8.79p!/Did Not Adv.|
|60m Prelims (Auto: 7.27; Prov: 7.44) 2:50 p.m.|
|Adv.||Toyin Olupona||7.31p+/1st, ht. 2|
|Adv.||Courtney Champion||7.31p!+/2nd, ht. 3|
|Adv.||Cleo Tyson||7.32p!+/2nd, ht. 2|
|Adv.||Tianna Madison||7.36p+/2nd, ht. 1|
|Long Jump Final (Auto: 6.40, Prov: 6.10) 3:00 p.m.|
|1st (10 pts)||Tianna Madison||22-0.25/6.71m!*s|
|Mile Prelims (Auto: 4:38.50; Prov: 4:47.00)b 3:30 p.m.|
|Adv.||Brooke Novak||4:55.93bp/3rd, ht. 1|
|Adv.||Mindy Sullivan||4:57.12bp!/4th, ht. 1|
|Shot Put Final (Auto: 16.90, Prov: 15.40) 4:00 p.m.|
|5th (4 pts)||April Thomas||50-6/15.39m!|
|400m Prelims (Auto: 52.40, Prov: 54.40)b 4:10 p.m.|
|Adv.||LaTonya Loche||53.68bp!+/2nd, ht. 1|
|Adv.||Patricia Hall||53.86bp!+/2nd, ht. 4|
|800m Prelims (Auto: 2:05.65, Prov: 2:09.00)b 4:50 p.m.|
|Adv.||Nicole Cook||2:09.b61p/1st. ht. 3|
|Adv.||Antoinette Gorham||2:08.99bp!+/2nd, ht. 2|
|Leslie Treherne||2:11.15bp/3rd, ht. 3|
|200m Prelims (Auto: 23.30; Prov: 23.90)b 5:45 p.m.|
|Adv.||Courtney Champion||23.11bp!*s/1st. ht. 1|
|Adv.||Cleo Tyson||23.40bp!+/2nd, ht.2|
|Adv.||LaTonya Loche||23.49bp!+/2nd, ht. 2|
|Tianna Madison||23.56bp!+/2nd, ht. 3|
|Toyin Olupona||23.85bp+/4th, ht. 3|
|3000m Final (Auto: 9:16.00; Prov: 9:35.00)b 6:35 p.m.|
|1st (10 pts)||Felicia Guliford||9:34.46b!+|
|6th (3 pts)||Elizabeth McCalley||9:51.02b|
|SUNDAY, FEB. 27|
|Wt. Throw Final (Auto: 20.50, Prov: 18.50) 9:00 a.m.|
|6th (3 pts)||Ariel Brooks||63-5/19.33m!+s|
|60m Final (Auto: 7.27; Prov: 7.44) 1:05 p.m.|
|2nd (8 pts)||Courtney Champion||7.26!*|
|3rd (6 pts)||Cleo Tyson||7.32!+|
|4th (5 pts)||Tianna Madison||7.34!+|
|5th (4 pts)||Toyin Olupona||7.35+|
|Mile Final (Auto: 4:38.50; Prov: 4:47.00)b 1:25 p.m.|
|2nd (8 pts)||Brooke Novak||4:55.70|
|4th (5 pts)||Mindy Sullivan||4:58.07|
|400m Final (Auto: 52.40, Prov: 54.40)b 1:45 p.m.|
|6th (3 pts)||LaTonya Loche||53.02!+|
|8th (1 pt)||Patricia Hall||53.68!+|
|Triple Jump Final (Auto: 13.30, Prov: 12.65) 2:00 p.m.|
|3rd (6 pts)||Edra Finley||41-8/12.70m!+|
|800m Final (Auto: 2:05.65, Prov: 2:09.00)b 2:25 p.m.|
|1st (10 pts)||Nicole Cook||2:00.75!*sfCR|
|7th (2 pts)||Antoinette Gorham||2:09.06|
|200m Final (Auto: 23.30; Prov: 23.90)b 2:45 p.m.|
|2nd (8 pts)||Courtney Champion||23.18*|
|5th (4 pts)||Cleo Tyson||23.25!*|
|5000m Final (Auto: 16:10, Prov: 16:45)b 2:55 p.m|
|1st (10 pts)||Felicia Guliford||16:43.15!+|
|7th (2 pts)||Katie Flaute||17:14.69|
|6th (3 pts)||Carly Matthews||17:12.78!|
|DMR Final (Auto: 11:09.00; Prov: 11:28.00)b 3:30 p.m.|
|1st (10 pts)||Mindy Sullivan/Toyin Olupona/Nicole Cook/Brooke Novak||11:40.94|
|4x400mR Final (Auto: 3:33.50; Prov: 3:40.00)b 4:00 p.m.|
|5th (4 pts)||Tianna Madison/Patricia Hall/LaTonya Loche/Cleo Tyson||3:36.27+|
All Times Listed Are Central Time
b - Banked Track Qualifying Standard, dnf - Did Not Finish, dnr - Did Not Run, f - Facility Record, m - Meters, mr - Meet Record, nm - No Mark Recorded, p - Prelims, s - School Record (Indoors), u - Undersized Track Qualifying Standard, * - NCAA Automatic Qualifier, + - NCAA Provisional Qualifier, ! - Personal Record (Indoors), ^ - Oversized Track Qualifying Standard