Feb. 27, 2010
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- The University of Tennessee men's and women's track & field teams scored points in the 3000 meters, shot put and jumps on Saturday, and they advanced seven more entries to Sunday's final day of the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
With five events scored through two days of competition, the fourth-ranked Lady Volunteers stand third in the team scoring with 25 points, trailing only Florida (50) and Arkansas (30). The remainder of the women's scoring includes LSU (17.5) in fourth, followed by South Carolina and Alabama (16), Kentucky (14), Ole Miss (13), Georgia (4.5), Mississippi State (4), Auburn (3) and Vanderbilt (2).
On the men's side, Tennessee scored three points to stand in ninth position after Saturday's proceedings. Arkansas is atop the leader board with 57, followed by Georgia (26), LSU (25), Florida (23), Ole Miss (21), Auburn (17), South Carolina (14) and Alabama (8). Kentucky and Mississippi State have yet to score.
Running in her second 3K of the season, but first in SEC competition, the sophomore ran a solid race and closed hard over the final two laps to overtake a Florida runner and grab runner-up honors. She did so with a career-best clocking of 9:26.63 that met the NCAA provisional standard and moved her to No. 7 on UT's all-time performer's list in that event.
Alexander, meanwhile, uncorked a season-best toss of 55-1 to deposit eight more points into UT's account for second-place distinction. The junior, who has not been pleased with her recent performances, was looking at a fourth-place finish until unleashing her best effort of 2010 on her fifth attempt of the six-throw competition. She now has placed first, second and second in her three SEC Indoor meets as a Lady Vol.
Tennessee also found success in both the men's and women's long jump and rustled up a point in the men's high jump. Those developments led to a successful day and nice return to his alma mater for UT jumps coach and former Arkansas jumps star Jerome Romain.
Freshman Kia Jackson delivered the Lady Vols four points in the long jump, soaring to a career-best 19 feet, eight inches on her third attempt to place fifth. Jackson, who had entered the meet with a previous best of 18-10 3/4, also had PR leaps of 19-0 1/2 and 19-2 on her first two tries. In the men's long jump, sophomore Desmond Brown secured seventh place with a leap of 24-10 1/2. That measurement came on his final attempt, and without it he would have wound up 10th and out of the points.
Freshman Tyler Stepp was unable to land a legal mark in the long jump, but he produced a point in the high jump with a first-attempt clearance of 6-8 3/4. He also sailed over 6-6 3/4 and 6-4 3/4 on his first tries, but went out when he failed to negotiate the bar at 6-10 3/4.
UT also had four in the men's 3K to close out the evening, but junior Michael Spooner was the Vols' top finisher, taking 11th in 8:21.58, with freshman Leoule Degfae crossing the line close behind in 12th with a personal best of 8:23.97.
Advancing to finals on Sunday for the Vols were Evander Wells in the 60- and 200-meter dashes, and both Emerson Peacock and Joe Franklin in the 800 meters.
In the 60 meters, the senior from Stone Mountain, Ga., captured heat four with the seventh-best clocking of the eight qualifiers in 6.71. On Sunday, Wells will try to score in the 60 for the third time in his career. He was fourth in 2007 and sixth in 2008.
Wells also moved along in the 200 with the fifth-best clocking of the prelims in a season-topping 20.96, a mark that was victorious in heat two. He will toe the line for his fourth SEC Indoor final in the one-lapper with past results of third, second and eighth to his credit over the past three seasons.
In the 800, sophomores Peacock and Franklin made their second consecutive SEC Indoor final, but each had to utilize a different road map to Sunday's championship race. Peacock went out fast and led much of the way before holding on for second place in section three in a season-best 1:51.57. Franklin, on the other hand, had to overcome getting tripped up, come from behind and close hard for second place in section two with a readout of 1:52.59. A year ago, Franklin finished third, while Peacock came in seventh at the SEC meet.
Wright, the NCAA leader and the defending SEC champion in the 800, looked strong in posting the fastest time of the prelims at 2:05.12 to lead heat one from wire to wire. The senior will have company in Sunday's race from Price, who ran 2:06.33 to take heat two and posted the No. 3 clocking of the prelims. Price was sixth as a rookie last season.
Sheffey won section two of the mile prelims in 4:48.28 and posted the second fastest mark of the 10 qualifiers, holding off Georgia's Kristie Krueger (4:49.20). Florida's Charlotte Browning won heat one and had the top prelim time in 4:46.96. The Lady Vol sophomore redshirted a year ago but was fourth in this event as a freshman in 2008.
"On the women's side, we advanced some people that I expected to advance," UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark said. "We got a surprise from Kia (Jackson) jumping a personal best, we advanced Phoebe and Chanelle to the final, got a solid throw from a big-meet performer in Annie Alexander, and closed it with a 12-second PR from Brittany Sheffey. We had a good finish today, and it gives us some good momentum going into the final day.
"On the men's side, we had some unfortunate things happen, with Terrance Livingston not finishing a race and some close calls where youngsters just missed making the finals. But, Desmond Brown scored for us in the long jump, Tyler Stepp produced a point in the high jump and we had Evander Wells make the finals in two events, and Emerson Peacock and Joe Franklin advance in the 800. The effort was good and they have good spirits.
"I'm looking forward to tomorrow. We have some positive things to focus on, and we're going to take whatever we have and do the best we possibly can with it."
Elsewhere, in a couple of near misses for the Big Orange, junior Peter Sigilai came up 11/100ths of a second shy of advancing in the mile, running 4:09.85 to place 11th. Kentucky's Patrick McGregor surged across the finish line just ahead of the Vol in 4:09.74 to nab the final qualifying spot. In the 400m, senior Samdi Fraser missed the last qualifying spot by a mere 3/100ths of a second. He was 10th in 47.54, with teammate Varick Tucker placing 11th in a career-best 47.57.
Sunday's final day of action begins with the women's weight throw at 10 a.m. and concludes around 4:15 p.m. with the 4x400m relay.
400m Prelims: 18. Martinique Octave, 56.90bp! (2nd, ht. 5); 24. Jená Murphy, 58.98bp (2nd, ht. 7)
Mile Final: Brittany Sheffey (No. 2 qualifier)
DMR Final: Lineup TBA
4x400mR Final: Lineup TBA
High Jump Final: Ellen Wortham
3000m Final: 11. Michael Spooner, 8:21.58b; 12. Leoule Degfae, 8:23.97b!; 17. Chris Kane, 8:34.18b; DNF Chris Rapp, NM
Weight Throw Final: NM - Drew Thomas, F
High Jump Final: 8. Tyler Stepp, 6-8.75/2.05m
Long Jump Final: 7. Desmond Brown, 24-10.50/7.58m; NM Tyler Stepp, F
60m Prelims: Adv. Evander Wells, 6.71p+ (1st, ht. 4), 12. Kyle Stevenson, 6.78p (4th, ht. 4)
Mile Prelims: 11. Peter Sigilai, 4:09.85bp (6th, ht. 2); 16. Mike Brodsky, 4:16.81bp (9th, ht. 1)
400m Prelims: 10. Samdi Fraser, 47.54bp (2nd, ht. 1); 11. Varick Tucker, 47.57bp! (4th, ht. 4); 13. John Hewitt, 47.99bp! (3rd, ht. 3); 16. Alan Bachman, 48.63bp (2nd, ht. 5); 22. Nathan Grace, 49.64bp (1st, ht. 6)
800m Prelims: Adv. Emerson Peacock, 1:51.57bp (2nd, ht. 3); Adv. Joe Franklin, 1:52.59bp (2nd, ht. 2); NM Terrance Livingston, DNF
200m Prelims: Adv. Evander Wells, 20.96pb+ (1st, ht. 2); 11. Kyle Stevenson, 21.23bp!+
60m Final: Evander Wells (No. 7 qualifier)
800m Final: Emerson Peacock (No. 5 qualifier), Joe Franklin (No. 8 qualifier)
200m Final: Evander Wells (5th Qualifier)
5000m Final: Chris Bodary, Steve Fassino, Chris Rapp, Michael Spooner, Leoule Degfae, Chris Kane
DMR Final: Emerson Peacock / Terrance Livingston / Joe Franklin / Peter Sigilai
4x400mR Final: John Hewitt / Evander Wells / Kyle Stevenson / Samdi Fraser
Pole Vault Final: Joe Berry, Robert Rasnick
Shot Put Final: Ben Bartholomew
* NCAA automatic qualifier, + - NCAA provisional qualifier, ! - Personal best, Adv. - Advanced to next round, DQ - Disqualified, DNF - Did not finish, F - Foul, FS - False start, m - meters, mr - Meet record, NM - No mark, p - Prelims, sr - School record