Feb. 27, 2011
By Eric Trainer
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Tennessee wrapped up the 2011 SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships Sunday afternoon with a trio of victories, another SEC meet record, the co-high-point scorer for the women's meet and finishes of third for the Lady Vols and seventh for the Vols at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
The Lady Vols improved one spot over 2010 by tallying 78 points to finish behind champion LSU (135) and runner-up Arkansas (118). Auburn (57) and Florida (55) rounded out the top five. On the men's side, the Vols nearly doubled their point total (46.33) and moved up three positions from last year's 10th-place result. Florida tallied 148 points to claim the title, followed by Arkansas (136.50), LSU (98), Alabama (65.50), Georgia (55.33) and Auburn (47.33) ahead of the Vols.
"I just want to keep improving," UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark said. "We're shooting for the number-one spot, and right now we have improvements, personal bests, records, SEC champions on both sides, and that's where we're starting from right now.
"We're going to move forward until we get to that top spot. For right now, we have to climb the ladder until we reach the pinnacle."
For the second time during the weekend, the Lady Vols broke a meet record. After senior Jackie Areson snapped a 24-year-old mark in the women's 3000 meters Saturday night, she returned to the track on Sunday to anchor a distance medley relay unit that crushed UT's year-old SEC women's standard. The quartet of juniors Brittany Sheffey (1200m), Ashley Harris (400m) and Chanelle Price (800m) joined Areson (1600m) to win by a whopping 32 seconds over runner-up Arkansas, notching an automatic qualifying time for the NCAA Indoor Championships in 11 minutes, 5.37 seconds. That toppled the old mark of 11:14.59 set by UT's Phoebe Wright, Kim White, Price and Areson a year ago.
The victory gave Tennessee its fifth straight triumph in that event at the SEC Indoor meet and was the program's seventh overall, every one of them under the guidance of Clark.
"We weren't really worried about the (SEC meet) record," Areson said. "We wanted to try to get as close to (NCAA) auto as possible, because we were kind of on the bubble. I just wanted to help the relay qualify for nationals, and I knew we had to run faster than the meet record to do that."
"Running an auto mark at the end of the meet is absolutely fantastic," Clark said. "It's one of the top times in the country, and we're happy we punched our ticket (to NCAAs)."
The Big Orange men also turned in an impressive performance in the DMR, racing to a runner-up finish in a season-best readout of 9:47.45. The combination of senior Chris Rapp, sophomore Terry Benson, freshman Ford Bell and senior Peter Sigilai, running with a purpose, gave the Vols their highest placing on the final day, contributing eight points toward the ledger after Sigilai out-dueled the home-standing Arkansas anchor leg on the final lap.
"It was great to see Peter have a great anchor leg and an explosive finish," Clark said. "We knew that they could do this. We were just hoping that they got it done, and they did. We needed all the points we could from the men, and Peter did a good job providing points for his team."
While the Lady Vols' Areson was part of two meet records, classmate Liz Costello turned out to be Tennessee's and the women's meet's co-high-point producer with 18 points. After taking second behind Areson in the 3K on Saturday night, the Princeton transfer stepped into the limelight on Sunday, capturing the 5000 meters by six seconds in 16:27.54.
Costello ran in a small lead pack with Auburn's Holly Knight and Miranda Walker of Arkansas for most of the race before taking the lead with 7 1/2 laps to go. She would quicken the pace over the latter stages of the race and go on to give UT its third SEC Indoor 5K champ, following Areson's victory of a year ago.
"It's great," Costello said of her feeling about winning the 5K. "This is my second time running the 5000m on the track. I never thought an SEC championship would be something that I would participate in or win at all, so I'm just really excited. To get the points for my team means a lot, too. We're all putting our hearts out there and trying to contribute."
"Liz has made an immediate impact to our program, on the track and off, from the standpoint of being a leader off it as well as being one in how she performs." Clark said. "She came in here her first year winning a conference title, which is big for the SEC, and ties for the high-point scorer for the meet. What a weekend, what a meet, what a person, what an athlete - Liz Costello."
In the women's 800, Price followed up her runner-up effort a year ago with a victory this time around. With two-time SEC Indoor champ and teammate Phoebe Wright graduated, Price became the tone-setter, leading wire-to-wire for her first career SEC individual crown in a season-best 2:05.10. Sophomore Nijgia Snapp covered the distance in 2:07.69 to take fifth, while freshman Kianna Ruff checked in sixth in 2:08.19 to help contribute 17 points for Tennessee in this event.
Following Wright's victories the past two seasons, Price boosted UT's streak of wins to three in a row and gave the Lady Vols their sixth all-time 800m triumph at SEC Indoors. Additionally, she became the 12th SEC Indoor 800m champion coached by Clark. He coached seven at Florida and now has produced five at Tennessee.
"I'm glad to get the win for my team, and I'm really happy to be the SEC champion," Price said. "I wanted to get out in front and stay there, and I did."
"I thought Chanelle did an excellent job," Clark said. "She was in line to do well, and she was coming along as the year progressed. I am very happy that she made some great adjustments in her run to make this a victory for her. She's done a great job, and I think there is more in the future to come from Chanelle Price. Great victory, great run, SEC champion!"
In the men's 800, Sigilai left everything he had on the track and nearly came up with another win at this meet for Tennessee. He got out well, ran up front the whole way and kicked strongly on the final lap in hopes of collecting his first SEC triumph. The senior came up a mere 16/100ths of a second short, settling for third behind Fred Samoei (1:49.68) of Alabama and Aaron Evans (1:49.76) of Georgia in a career-best 1:49.84. Junior teammate Joe Franklin also chipped in points, taking sixth in 1:51.71.
"Peter is super-talented," Clark said. "We weren't surprised that he was able to do that. He ran a smart race and good race. He definitely had us excited going into that final lap.
"A couple of changes here and there, and he definitely would be an SEC champion. We are happy for his performance today, though, and look forward to him getting faster for the outdoor season."
Redshirt freshman Dentarius Locke was a two-event individual scorer for Team Orange, taking fifth in the 200-meter dash and sixth in the 60-meter dash. After running 6.71 in the straight sprint, he came back later in the afternoon to log a 21.07 readout in the one-lapper. His efforts earned seven points for the Big Orange.
Locke also was a part of the UT 4x400m relay unit that nabbed seventh. He took the baton after turns from junior Deaundra Dailey, freshman Jarael Nelvis and junior Varick Tucker to check in with a season-best 3:11.37 clocking.
"He (Dentarius) had it tough; the sprints in the SEC are just absolutely amazing," Clark said. "Being able to get in there and get some points as a freshman is what we are looking for. He did a great job, and we are happy that he is definitely in orange and able to run. We look forward to some good stuff from him the next several years."
The Lady Vols, meanwhile, cranked out a fifth-place finish in the meet-closing 4x4, logging their top effort as well at 3:36.16. Moving the stick around the oval were junior Ellen Wortham, sophomore Martinique Octave, sophomore Nijgia Snapp and freshman Kianna Ruff.
Other scorers for the Vols on Sunday included sophomore Chris Bodary, who was seventh in the 5000m in 14:23.61, and sophomore Terry Benson, who finished eighth in the 60m hurdles at 8.21. Redshirt freshman Jordan Chaney finished just out scoring range, placing ninth in 4:16.53 in his first SEC final.
For the Lady Vols, redshirt freshman Aslynn Halvorson delivered a point in the shot put, producing a toss of 46-2 1/2 to wind up eighth.
The squads will now turn their focus toward the NCAA Indoor Championships, which will be held March 11-12 in College Station, Texas.
800m: 1. Chanelle Price, 2:05.10b; 5. Nigjia Snapp, 2:07.69b; 6. Kianna Ruff, 2:08.19b
5000m: 1. Liz Costello, 16:27.54b; 17. Elizabeth Tiller, 18:34.75b!
Distance Medley Relay: 1. Brittany Sheffey / Ashley Harris / Chanelle Price / Jackie Areson, 11:05.37b*
4x400m Relay: 5. Ellen Wortham / Martinique Octave / Nijgia Snapp / Kianna Ruff, 3:36.16b
Shot Put: 8. Aslynn Halvorson, 46-2.50/14.08m; 14. Laquoya Kelly, 42-8/13.00m
Pole Vault: 10. Linda Hadfield, 12-5.50/3.80m!
Triple Jump: 13. Allison Outerbridge, 38-6.75/11.75m!
3000m: 1. Jackie Areson, 9:10.49bSECr; 2. Liz Costello, 9:16.14b; 3. Brittany Sheffey, 9:26.75b; 22. Elizabeth Tiller, 10:40.36b
Weight Throw: 6. Jessie Harrison, 60-8.50/18.50m!; 10. Laquoya Kelly, 57-3.75/17.47m
High Jump: 6. Ellen Wortham, 5-6/1.68m
Long Jump: 8. Kia Jackson, 18-11.25/5.77m; 21. Jazmen Townsend, 17-4.25/5.29m
800m Prelims: Adv. Chanelle Price, 2:07.42bp/1st, ht. 1 (2nd); Adv. Nijgia Snapp, 2:09.21bp/2nd, ht. 4 (5th); Adv. Kianna Ruff, 2:10.58bp/2nd, ht. 3 (9th); 11. Brittney Jackson, 2:12.31bp/3rd, ht. 1; 13. Ty-Vonna Johnson, 2:13.88bp!/4th, ht. 2; 14. Charity Honeycutt, 2:14.33bp!/4th, ht. 4; 19. Kim White, 2:17.27bp!/5th, ht. 1
60mH Prelims: 9. Ellen Wortham, 8.51p/4th, ht. 2; 18. Bianca Blair, 8.80p/6th, ht. 3
60m Prelims: 11. Kia Jackson, 7.52p/4th, ht. 3; 12. Brittany Jones, 7.57p/4th, ht. 1; t17. Ashley Harris, 7.66p/7th, ht. 3
Mile Prelims: 15. Ramzee Fondren, 5:03.75bp; 16. Amber Zimmerman, 5:04.29bp; 22. Elizabeth Altizer, 5:16.64bp
400m Prelims: 14. Martinique Octave, 55.12bp!/1st, ht. 5; 35. Kirstyn Sweeney, 1:00.14bp/1st, ht. 10
200m Prelims: 19. Martinique Octave, 24.44bp/3rd, ht. 3; 21. Brittany Jones, 24.56bp/3rd, ht. 5; 23. Ashley Harris, 24.68bp/4th, ht. 5; 25. Kia Jackson, 24.71bp/2nd, ht. 6; 29. Bianca Blair, 26.54bp/3rd, ht. 7
Pentathlon (Final): 3. Ellen Wortham, 3977 pts. (60mH: 2nd, 8.47!, 1,024 pts.; High Jump: 4th, 5-4.50/1.64m, 783 pts.; Shot Put: 13th, 30-9.25/9.38m, 489 pts; Long Jump: 4th, 19-3.25/5.87m, 810 pts.; 800m: 1st, 2:16.57b!, 871 pts.)
Distance Medley Relay: 2. Chris Rapp / Terry Benson / Ford Bell / Peter Sigilai, 9:47.45b
800m: 3. Peter Sigilai, 1:49.84b!; 6. Joe Franklin, 1:51.71b
200m: 5. Dentarius Locke, 21.07b
60m: 6. Dentarius Locke, 6.71
4x400m Relay: 7. Deaundra Dailey / Jarael Nelvis / Varick Tucker / Dentarius Locke, 3:11.37b
5000m: 7. Chris Bodary, 14:23.61b; 13. Michael Spooner, 14:50.05b; 14. Jake Rainey, 14:57.10b!; 18. Tyler Freeman, 15:23.47b!; 19. Tom Gilmartin, 15:31.79b
60mH: 8. Terry Benson, 8.21
Mile: 9. Jordan Chaney, 4:16.53b
High Jump: 10. Justin Hunter, 6-7/2.01m
Weight Throw: 11. Drew Thomas, 55-11/17.04m
Triple Jump: 16. Desmond Brown, 43-5.25/13.24m
Pole Vault: 1. Joe Berry, 17-7.50/5.37m; 7. Robert Rasnick, 16-11.50/5.17m; t8. Chase Brannon, 16-5.50/5.02m!; NH - Tyler Porter
Long Jump: 5. Justin Hunter, 25-4/7.72m; 9. Desmond Brown, 24-9/7.54m
Shot Put: 10. Ben Bartholomew, 53-3.50/16.24m; 11. Matt Darr, 53-3/16.23m!
3000m: 11. Chris Bodary, 8:23.04b; 12. Michael Spooner, 8:28.25b; 13. Jake Rainey, 8:33.67b!; 17. Daniel Tobin, 8:41.26b; 18. Tyler Freeman, 8:45.25b
Heptathlon (Final): DNF - Kevin Carney (60mH: 11. 8.88; 772 pts.; Pole Vault: 10. 12-5.50/3.80m, 562 pts.; 1000m: DNS)
60m Prelims: Adv. Dentarius Locke, 6.67p/2nd, ht. 1 (3rd); 18. Jarael Nelvis, 6.92p/6th, ht. 2
800m Prelims: Adv. Peter Sigilai, 1:50.94bp/2nd, ht. 2. (3rd); Adv. Joe Franklin, 1:51.98bp/3rd, ht. 3 (9th); 12. Breon Dixon, 1:53.16bp!/5th, ht. 2; 14. Ford Bell, 1:53.30bp!/4th, ht. 1
200m Prelims: Adv.. Dentarius Locke, 21.02bp!/1st, ht. 3 (6th); 12. Jarael Nelvis, 21.28bp!/3rd, ht. 2
60mH Prelims: Adv. Terry Benson, 8.15p!/3rd, ht. 1 (8th)
Mile Prelims: Adv. Jordan Chaney, 4:10.34bp! (10th); 17. Chris Rapp, 4:18.59bp
400m Prelims: 13. Varick Tucker, 47.82bp/3rd, ht. 2; 25. Deaundra Dailey, 49.92bp/3rd, ht. 4
Heptathlon (Day One): 12. Kevin Carney, 2,529 pts. (60m: 13th, 7.66, 662 pts.; Long Jump: 12th, 18-9/5.71m, 525 pts.; Shot Put: 10th, 40-0.75/12.12m, 619 pts; High Jump: 6th, 6-3.25/1.91m, 723 pts.)
* - NCAA automatic qualifying mark, ! - personal record, ^ - oversized track, b - banked track, DNF - did not finish, DQ - disqualified, F - foul, fr - facility record, FS - false start, h - heat, m - meters, mr - meet record, NM - no mark registered, NH - no height registered, p - preliminary round, sr - school record
J.J. Clark talks about his Tennessee's performances on Sunday at the SEC meet.
Chanelle Price talks about her victory in the 800 meters and her role with UT's SEC meet-record-setting DMR quartet.
Liz Costello talks about winning the SEC Indoor 5000 meters.