March 1, 2003


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Sophomore Nicole Cook cruised to her fastest time ever in the 800 meters on Saturday, earned an automatic NCAA berth and joined two other University of Tennessee teammates in advancing to the finals of the Southeastern Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships at the O'Connell Center.

Cook, the third-place finisher in the 800 at the 2002 SEC indoor meet and the champion at the outdoor gathering, breezed to a 2:06.11 result to top her previous personal record of 2:06.92, which she set in the league finals a year ago. The mark earned her a ticket to Sunday's money race and locked up a trip to Fayetteville, Ark., for the NCAA Championships meet on March 14-15.

Going out fast in heat one, Cook grabbed the lead for the first lap until LSU's Marian Burnett decided to set a faster pace. Just after the leaders completed the initial 200 meters, Burnett surged to the front and led the rest of the way, covering the distance in 2:05.27. Cook would finish next, followed by Auburn's Sarah Reese in 2:06.90.

In Sunday's race for all the marbles, Cook will find herself in familiar company. It was Burnett who won the indoor title a year ago, beating out Florida's Kristina Bratton and Cook for top honors. Bratton will again be in the mix as should LSU's Neisha Bernard-Thomas, the heat two victor, as well as Reese, her sister Caitlin Reese and Kentucky's Beth Heimann.



Also advancing to Sunday's finals are redshirt freshman Brooke Novak in the mile and sophomore Toyin Olupona in the 55m dash. Their presence, along with Cook's, should help Tennessee get on the scoreboard and pursue its goal of reaching the mid 30-point plateau. After two days of action, Arkansas gleaned 19 points from the 3000m to post a total of 35 and surge ahead of first-day leader Georgia. South Carolina moved into second with 34, followed by Florida and Georgia with 25. Others on the board include Auburn (13), Mississippi State (8), Kentucky (7), Vanderbilt (5), Alabama (2), as well as Ole Miss and LSU (1).

In the mile run, Novak appeared to run a patient race and advanced to the championship round with a clocking of 4:52.79. That effort was just off her victorious season best of 4:51.37 at the Gator Invitational in Gainesville on Feb. 9. The Kaukauna, Wis., native finished fourth in heat two and posted the seventh-fastest reading of the preliminary round. Junior Erin Anderson (Kent, Ohio) ran a season-topping 5:02.60 but finished two places out of a qualifying spot in 11th.

Olupona advanced to her first SEC indoor final, earning the ninth spot in the 55m finals with a reading of 6.93. That performance is the fastest time the Orillia, Canada, product has ever charted in a prelim race and is barely under the 6.90 lifetime best she posted in the finals of last Friday night's Tennessee Indoor Classic.

"We're moving forward, getting people in the finals and in position to score some points tomorrow," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "It's outstanding to have Nicole, Brooke and Toyin move on to the championship round, because the expectation when you come to this meet is that you are facing athletes of great quality. We have a shot at achieving our goals here, but it is going to take everyone we have being ready to step up on Sunday."

Elsewhere, sophomore Dee Dee Trotter (Decatur, Ga.) finished second in her heat of the 200m dash trials. Unfortunately, her showing of 24.16 in heat four was not fast enough to merit a slot in the NCAA-caliber finals. Like Anderson in the mile, Trotter missed advancing to Sunday by two. That outcome for the 2002 sixth-place conference finisher and the number-seven ranked sprinter on the SEC 200m list entering the meet was the only real setback on the day for the orange-clad team.

Jessica Southers, who is a returning scorer in the 5000 meters, just missed on adding an unexpected point in the 3000. The sophomore from Ashland, Ky., turned in a ninth-place effort with a pace of 10:05.79. Also running the 3K were junior Christy Baird (Knoxville, Tenn.) and sophomore Elizabeth McCalley (Knoxville, Tenn.), who were among those pulled off the track as is the practice at SECs when the leaders lap the field.

In the shot put, junior Janine Tessarzik (Altamont, N.Y.) registered a throw of 43-5.25/13.25m to finish 15th. UT's lone thrower managed her best heave on attempt number two and also stretched the tape to 41-10.75/12.77m and 42-0/12.80m on her other two tries.

Also competing on day two of the conference meet for the Big Orange but unable to qualify for the finals were sophomore Antoinette Gorham (Glenarden, Md.) and junior Christina Billings (Madison, Wis.) in the 400m, recording times of 59.28 and 59.57, respectively.

In addition to those who earned finals berths on Saturday, other Lady Volunteers slated to compete on Sunday include Tessarzik in the weight throw; Christie Elwin (Adelaide, Australia), Lauren McNeil (Easton, Pa.), Kendra Rhyne (Andersonville, Tenn.), Jessica Andrews (Rockford, Tenn.) and Jessica Reust (Knoxville, Tenn.) in the pole vault; and Southers, Sharon Dickie (Grand Blanc, Mich.) and Katie Flaute (Dayton, Ohio) in the 5000 meters. UT will also have quartets in both the distance medley and 4x400m relays.


Pentathlon (Not An NCAA Event)
14th Caitlin Ward 3236 pts!
55mH (9.14/16th), HJ (4-11.25!/t14th), SP (36-0.25!/9th), LJ (16-4!/16th),
800m (2:25.33!/3rd)


55m Trials (Auto: 6.80; Prov: 6.94) 2:10 p.m.
Adv. Toyin Olupona 6.93p+

Mile Trials (Auto: 4:43.20; Prov: 4:49.00) 2:55 p.m.
Adv. Brooke Novak 4:52.79p
DNQ Erin Anderson 5:02.60p

Shot Put (Auto: 16.10, Prov: 15.20) 3:30 p.m.
15th Janine Tessarzik 43-5.75/13.25m

400m Trials (Auto: 53.80, Prov: 54.80) 3:45 p.m.
DNQ Antoinette Gorham 59.28p
DNQ Christina Billings 59.57p

800m Trials (Auto: 2:06.60, Prov: 2:09.40) 4:40 p.m.
Adv. Nicole Cook 2:06.11p!*

200m Trials (Auto: 23.70, Prov: 24.20) 5:35 p.m.
DNQ Dee Dee Trotter 24.16p+

3000m (Auto: 9:20.80, Prov: 9:35.80) 6:20 p.m.
9th Jessica Southers 10:05.79
DNF Christy Baird
DNF Elizabeth McCalley


Wt. Throw (Auto: 19.50, Prov: 18.50) 12:30 p.m.
Janine Tessarzik

Pole Vault (Auto: 4.20, Prov: 3.90) 1:00 p.m.
Christie Elwin
Lauren McNeil
Kendra Rhyne
Jessica Andrews
Jessica Reust

55m Finals (Auto: 6.80; Prov: 6.94) 1:25 p.m.
Toyin Olupona

Mile Finals (Auto: 4:43.20; Prov: 4:49.00) 1:45 p.m.
Brooke Novak

800m Finals (Auto: 2:06.60, Prov: 2:09.40) 2:50 p.m.
Nicole Cook

5000m Finals (Auto: 16:21:55; Prov: 16:46.55) 3:20 p.m.
Sharon Dickie
Jessica Southers
Katie Flaute

DMR Finals (Auto: 11:21.00; Prov: 11:38.00) 4:00 p.m.

4x400mR Finals (Auto: 3:37.00, Prov: 3:41.20) 4:30 p.m.


b - Banked Track Qualifying Standard
DNF - Did Not Finish
DNQ - Did Not Qualify
DNR - Did Not Run
DNS - Did Not Start
f - Facility Record
h - Hand Times
NH - No Height
NM - No Mark
p - Prelims
sr - School Record (Indoors)
u - Undersized Track Qualifying Standard
* - NCAA Automatic Qualifier
+ - NCAA Provisional Qualifier
! - Personal Record (Indoors)
^ - Oversized Track Qualifying Standard



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