April 5, 2003
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The University of Tennessee women's track and field team collected victories in four individual events and added its third NCAA Regional qualifier of the season en route to a third-place finish Saturday at the SEC Challenge at Weems Baskins Track.
The Lady Vols picked up wins from senior Sharon Dickie in the 1500-meter run, senior Christie Elwin in the javelin throw, freshman Felicia Guliford in the 5000 meters and sophomore Elizabeth McCalley in the 3000-meter steeplechase. Junior Janine Tessarzik also became UT's third qualifier for the NCAA Regional meet with her effort in the hammer throw.
That quintet paced Head Coach J.J. Clark's squad to a total of 102 points, which was good for third in the four-team field. Florida and South Carolina, national runners-up at the NCAA indoor meet, took first and second with 228 and 218.50 points, respectively. Vanderbilt was fourth at 83.50 on a day dampened by intermittent light rain.
Dickie, who normally runs the longer distances such as the 5000m, finished first in the 1500m in a career-best 4:31.34 and just missed the NCAA regional standard of 4:31.00. The Grand Blanc, Mich., native led UT's biggest point barrage of the day. Joining her in the scoring column were sophomore Nicole Cook (Petersburg, Va.) in second at 4:32.28, redshirt freshman Brooke Novak (Kaukauna, Wis.) in fourth at 4:35.71 and junior Erin Anderson (Kent, Ohio) in eighth at 4:48.79. That foursome contributed 22 points to the Big Orange coffers in the event.
In the javelin it was Elwin, the school record-holder in the pole vault, coming up big with a throw of 133-0/40.54m to take top honors. That victory helped ease the pain of a no-height day in the vault for the Adelaide, Australia native.
For Guliford, the meet offered her collegiate debut on the track, and the Gallup, N.M., native did not disappoint. The freshman, who redshirted during the indoor campaign after performing well for the cross country team during the fall, posted a 17:24.89 result to triumph in the 5000m. She was joined in the scoring column by junior Christy Baird (Knoxville, Tenn.), who charted a sixth-place outing in 18:34.37.
In the 3000m steeplechase, McCalley ran away with the title, winning in 11:26.01 by nearly 22 seconds over her nearest competitor. The good news for Tennessee was that the runner-up points went to Lady Vol Jessica Southers. The junior from Ashland, Ky., crossed the line in 11:47.81 for her first attempt in that event.
As for Tessarzik, the Altamont, N.Y., product uncorked a personal-record throw of 169-3/51.58m to place eighth in the hammer behind a host of Florida's national-champion-caliber competitors. More importantly, however, Tessarzik earned a trip to the Mideast Regional meet in Columbus, Ohio, on May 30-31 with a throw that rates as second-best in school history. She joins Elwin (pole vault) and sophomore Dee Dee Trotter (400m) of Decatur, Ga., as qualifiers for the first-time event.
"Overall, there were a lot of positive things that happened at the meet," Clark said. "Things such as Janine's huge improvement in the hammer throw and scoring in three events for us today, going 1-2 in the 1500m and steeplechase, and Felicia winning the 5000m after not running competitively since the cross country season. Those are all great things that happened for us today.
"But, there are some things we need to work on. I didn't like the execution we had in a couple of events, particularly the 1500 meters and pole vault. But, we'll keep working on those things and continue to strive for more regional qualifiers in the coming weeks."
Other top-three scorers for UT on Saturday included Trotter, who was third in the 400 meters at 54.20; Novak, who was third in the 800 meters in a PR 2:12.91; and the 4x400m relay unit of sophomore Antoinette Gorham (Glenarden, Md.), Cook, junior Christina Billings (Madison, Wis.) and Trotter, which took third in 3:47.22. Also worthy of note was the fact that Dickie doubled in the 1500 and 800 meters, taking fourth in the 800m in a fairly speedy 2:13.43 after winning the 1500m an hour earlier.
Clark and his squad will return to Knoxville and have a few days to prepare for the Sea Ray Relays at Tom Black Track. The annual four-day extravaganza begins Wednesday afternoon and concludes on Saturday evening.