Feb. 29, 2004
An SEC-record-setting performance in the distance medley relay, Nicole Cook's victory in the 800 meters and a host of other impressive performances enabled the sixth-ranked University of Tennessee women's track & field team to forge a final team finish of second place Sunday at the 2004 Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships at E.J. Nutter Fieldhouse.
The Lady Volunteers, who placed ninth at last year's SEC Indoor meet with 25 points, tallied 99.50 a year later to finish behind victorious Florida, which used 32 points in the shot put to accumulate 105.50 and win for the second time in three years. UT's total, the best since Dorothy Doolittle's squad posted 91 points in 1991, surpassed the school's combined point total of the past four (97) SEC indoor meets combined.
Chasing the Gators and Lady Vols in the final team standings were LSU (84.50), Georgia (81), South Carolina (74), Arkansas (50.50), Auburn (48), Kentucky (42), Vanderbilt (25), Alabama (23), Mississippi State (21) and Ole Miss (9). Tennessee actually began the final event, the 4x400m relay, with a possibility to win the meet, but it would have taken an extraordinary turn of events for the Big Orange to overtake UF's faster tandem and the five-point Gator lead.
Florida ended up finishing third, ahead of UT's effort of fourth in the 4x4, but UT drastically improved its school record in the event to 3:32.59 (from 3:35.39) and earned an
automatic ticket to the NCAA Championships. Running for Team Orange were junior Antoinette Gorham (Glenarden, Md.), junior Nicole Cook (Petersburg, Va.), senior Kameisha Bennett (Dayton, Ohio) and junior Dee Dee Trotter (Decatur, Ga.).
"Our team came here and did the best it possibly could and nearly walked away with a championship," second-year UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "I believe that this is the nation's toughest conference, and you can hold your head up proudly when you finish among the top two in the SEC. I have to commend our team for the effort they provided and for the performances they gave during all three days of this meet.
"We had SEC champions, SEC records, UT records, NCAA automatics and provisionals, 28 personal bests as well as times that rank among the best in the country. To have such remarkable performances and to come so close to winning it, excites and encourages us to work harder and see what we can do during the outdoor season."
As for the record-setting DMR, the combination of sophomore Brooke Novak (Kaukauna, Wis.), junior Toyin Olupona (Orillia, Ontario, Canada), redshirt freshman Mindy Sullivan (Lubbock, Texas) and senior Lindsay Hyatt (Auburn, Calif.) rolled easily past the field to victory, charting the first SEC win in that event by a Tennessee quartet. The 11:16.61 readout unseated the old conference mark of Florida, which posted a reading of 11:16.93 in 1987. The time rates number two in UT annals as well, behind the 11:03.42 performance that a different lineup produced earlier this season at the Penn State National Open.
"To run that fast at the end of a long meet like this one is quite spectacular," Clark said. "Running an SEC record time in that situation is even tougher to do and is something to be proud of. The record has stood for 17 years, so it must be a tough one. The effort today just shows the conditioning and character of our young ladies."
In the 800, Cook, the conference outdoor champ as a freshman in 2002, held off LSU's Neisha Bernard-Thomas down the stretch, winning in 2:05.34 to Bernard-Thomas's 2:05.54. With the triumph, Cook grabbed her first indoor title after finishing third as a freshman (2:06.92) and fourth (2:07.66) as a sophomore. She also became UT's first indoor 800m champ since Valerie Bertrand in 1990.
Also earning points in the 800 were Bennett (Dayton, Ohio) and freshman Leslie Treherne (Chesapeake, Va.), who crossed the line in fifth and seventh, respectively, in 2:06.55 and 2:06.86, with the latter mark representing a career best and NCAA provisional improvement. Their contributions in conjunction with Cook??TMs victory enabled Tennessee to capture 16 points in that event.
"Nicole winning her second SEC title shows she is ready to be a national contender," Clark said. "I am very proud of the work she's put in. I'm also proud of Kameisha and Leslie for their efforts this weekend and for what they accomplished."
The Lady Vols got their first major points of the day in the 60-meter dash, where Olupona (Orillia, Ontario, Canada) and freshman Tianna Madison (Elyria, Ohio) crossed the line in third and fifth, respectively, to contribute 10 points to the UT coffers. After breaking Kelli White's school record in the 55-meter dash last weekend, Olupona eclipsed the 60-meter UT mark on Sunday, clocking a 7.23 to garner six points. Madison, meanwhile, charted a career-best and provisional improvement to 7.34 and moved into third on Tennessee's all-time performers list and grabbed four more points for the Big
. Next, Tennessee cashed in with 13 points, in the mile run, as Hyatt (Auburn, Calif.) sped to a career-best 4:40.82 performance to place second and raise her NCAA stock considerably to a ranking of sixth in the nation. She also registered the sixth best time ever by a Lady Vol in that event. Novak, who won the 3000 on Saturday night after qualifying in the mile run, came back and supplied a 4:42.64 credit in the finals to snag fourth. Senior Jessica Southers (Ashland, Ky.) took ninth in 4:52.05.
Ten more points came UT's way from Trotter, who reeled off another school record in the 400m (51.64) to take fourth, and just missed her career-topper in the 200m at 23.21 to place fourth in that event. Her 400 clocking is nearly the same time she ran outdoors in 2003 to win the SEC title and set the school record, illustrating how much farther along the junior is this season than last.
The remainder of the Lady Vols' final day points came from two events. Redshirt freshman Megan Cauble (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Southers registered PRs of 16:42.87 and 16:55.66 in the 5000 meters to place fourth and seventh, while junior Kendra Rhyne (Andersonville, Tenn.) chipped in a half point for a tie for eighth in the pole vault, which she did by clearing 12 feet.
In the triple jump, Tennessee narrowly missed on more points, as Madison and freshman Edra Finley (Mobile, Ala.) placed ninth and 10th with career-best jumps of 39-4 1/2 and 38-9 1/2. Madison, who had not attempted the triple jump as a Lady Vol until Sunday, zoomed to fourth on UT's all-time performers list in that event. UT won't see action as a team again until March 12-13, when the squad goes to the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark.
|EVENT (NCAA DIV. I QUALIFYING MARKS)|
|FRIDAY, FEB. 27|
|Pentathlon (Auto: 4050; Prov: 3700)^ 4:30 p.m.|
|(60mH: 14th/9.24!/860 pts.; HJ: t10th/5-1.75/1.57m!/701 pts.; SP: 8th/36-0.25/10.98m/594 pts.; LJ: 9th/17-7.50/5.37m/663m pts.; 800m: 1st/2:20.44!/818 pts.|
|SATURDAY, FEB. 28|
|Wt. Throw (Auto: 19.50, Prov: 18.50) 10:00 a.m.|
|Long Jump (Auto: 6.40, Prov: 6.20) 11:00 a.m.|
|60m Dash Pre. (Auto: 7.30; Prov: 7.44) 3:10 p.m.|
|Advanced||Toyin Olupona||7.27p!*/1st, ht. 1|
|Advanced||Tianna Madison||7.38p!+/3rd, ht. 1|
|Mile Pre. (Auto: 4:38.50, Prov: 4:48.40)^ 3:50 p.m.|
|Advanced||Brooke Novak||4:46.80p+/1st, ht. 1|
|Advanced||Lindsay Hyatt||4:47.34p+/2nd, ht. 1|
|Advanced||Jessica Southers||4:50.62p!/4th, ht. 2|
|400m Pre. (Auto: 52.90, Prov: 54.50)^ 4:30 p.m.|
|Advanced||Dee Dee Trotter||52.12p!+s/1st, ht. 1|
|800m Pre. (Auto: 2:05.65, Prov: 2:09.00)^ 5:10 p.m.|
|Advanced||Nicole Cook||2:05.40p*/1st, ht. 1|
|Advanced||Kameisha Bennett||2:05.32p!*/2nd, ht. 2|
|Advanced||Leslie Treherne||2:07.34p!+/3rd, ht. 1|
|12th||Mindy Sullivan||2:09.44p/3rd, ht. 3|
|17th||Antoinette Gorham||2:12.38p!/6th, ht. 2|
|200m Pre. (Auto: 23.50, Prov: 24.00)^ 6:00 p.m.|
|Advanced||Dee Dee Trotter||23.27p*/1st, ht. 1|
|3000m Fin. (Auto: 9:16.00, Prov: 9:35.00)^ 6:55 p.m.|
|SUNDAY, FEB. 29|
|Triple Jump (Auto: 13.30; Prov: 12.65) 11:00 a.m.|
|Pole Vault (Auto: 4.20, Prov: 3.95) 11:00 a.m.|
|60m Dash Fin. (Auto: 7.30; Prov: 7.44) 1:50 p.m.|
|Shot Put (Auto: 16.50, Prov: 15.20) 2:00 p.m.|
|Mile Fin. (Auto: 4:38.50, Prov: 4:48.40)^ 2:05 p.m.|
|400m Fin. (Auto: 52.90, Prov: 54.50)^ 2:25 p.m.|
|4th||Dee Dee Trotter 51.64!*s|
|5000m Fin. (Auto: 16:15.00; Prov: 16:45.00)^ 2:45 p.m.|
|800m Fin. (Auto: 2:05.65, Prov: 2:09.00)^ 3:10 p.m.|
|200m Fin. (Auto: 23.50, Prov: 24.00)^ 3:30 p.m.|
|4th||Dee Dee Trotter 23.21*|
|DMR (Auto: 11:15.00, Prov: 11:36.00)^ 4:10 p.m.|
|1st||Brooke Novak/Toyin Olupona/Mindy Sullivan/Lindsay Hyatt||11:16.61*f |
|4x400mR (Auto: 3:34.50, Prov: 3:40.00)^ 4:40 p.m.|
|4th||Antoinette Gorham/Nicole Cook/Kameisha Bennett/Dee Dee Trotter||3:32.59*s|
* - NCAA Automatic Qualifier, + - NCAA Provisional Qualifier, ! - Personal Record (Indoors), ^ - Oversized Track Qualifying Standard, b - Banked Track Qualifying Standard, dnf - Did Not Finish, dnq - Did Not Qualify For Finals, dnr - Did Not Run, f - Facility Record, nm - No Mark Recorded, p - Prelims, s - School Record (Indoors), u - Undersized Track Qualifying Standard