Kameisha Bennett anchored the record setting 4x800 relay team.
April 10, 2004
The ninth-ranked University of Tennessee women's track & field team put the icing on a splendid weekend Saturday at Tom Black Track, as the Lady Vols cruised to a record-setting victory in the 4x800m relay and added a triumph in the long jump from freshman Tianna Madison to close out the 38th-annual Sea Ray Relays.
The Big Orange lineup of sophomore Brooke Novak (Kaukauna, Wis.), junior Nicole Cook (Petersburg, Va.), freshman Leslie Treherne (Chesapeake, Va.) and senior Kameisha Bennett (Dayton, Ohio) toppled a 15-year-old Sea Rays record and 26-year-old Tom Black Track collegiate mark with a victorious 8:28.87 performance in the 4x800m relay. South Carolina and Michigan challenged early in the race before finishing second and third, respectively, in 8:35.44 and 8:36.65.
The mark by the UT women, the second-fastest in school history behind an 8:20.22 count in 1984, bested an 8:34.62 clocking that Villanova recorded in winning the title at the meet in 1989 and gave Tennessee its third 4x8 title at Sea Rays to go along with wins in 1990 and 1991. The reading also knocked down the long-time facility collegiate mark of 8:33.51, one that Cal State Northridge had clutched since May 27, 1978.
"We put things together and ran well," Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "Leslie Treherne wasn't able to match the race (open 800m) she ran yesterday, but we still managed to get the job done and
beat a fine South Carolina team."
UT's second victory on the final day came from Madison, who walked away with her second title of the meet as well as another NCAA regional qualifying mark. With a leap of 20-3.75/6.19m, Madison became UT's first Sea Rays titlist in the long jump since Dedra Davis in 1993 and only its third ever. The Elyria, Ohio, product, who is now set for regionals individually in the 100 and 200-meter dashes and long jump, claimed top honors over Nike's Shana Williams, who was second in 20-1.75/6.14m, as well as such luminaries as reigning Sea Rays champion Chelsea Hammond of South Carolina and Penn State jumps standout Chi-Chi Aduba.
"It's very exciting to see a freshman perform so well at this meet," Clark said. "She was a high-caliber athlete in high school and is coming through with some big performances as a Lady Vol. We're very excited about the future she has with this program."
In the distance medley relay, Tennessee improved its time from the 2003 Sea Rays meet by five seconds despite running without NCAA Indoor championship contributors Novak and junior Dee Dee Trotter (Decatur, Ga.). Despite the faster pace, the effort was not enough to hold off Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons put together an impressive 11:12.91 readout to prevent a repeat UT victory and also replaced the Lady Vols as Tom Black Track collegiate record holders.
With Cook, junior Antoinette Gorham (Glenarden, Md.), redshirt freshman Mindy Sullivan (Lubbock, Texas) and senior Lindsay Hyatt (Auburn, Calif.) toting the baton, Clark's squad took second in 11:14.09, bettering last year's track collegiate best of 11:19.19 and ranking as the sixth-fastest DMR ever turned in by a Big Orange quartet. Knoxville All-Stars, which featured the J.J. Clark-coached quartet of Jearl Miles-Clark, Erin Merten, Hazel Clark and Becki Wells, finished third in 11:26.66.
"We put together a good team for the DMR, and Nicole really did a nice job stepping in and handling the 1200-meter leg," Clark said. "To run that kind of time without Brooke and Dee Dee on board was very exciting to see."
Junior Elizabeth McCalley (Knoxville, Tenn.) kept the positive accolades coming for the distance contingent, as the Karns High School product toppled her own school record in the 3000m steeplechase, finishing fourth and earning a ticket to the NCAA Mideast Regional meet. McCalley covered the distance in the Invitational event in 10:46.99, shaving over 16 seconds off her previous UT mark of 11:03.38. Sarah Gall, running unattached, took the title in 10:33.09.
"I'm very proud of Elizabeth and her effort today," Clark said. "She crushed her school record and earned a trip to the regional meet. Her performance reflected an overall theme of good things that were happening across the board."
That was certainly the case in the 200 meters, where a trio of Lady Vols recorded personal bests and two of them earned NCAA regional berths. Trotter, Madison and Toyin Olupona (Orillia, Ontario, Canada) took third, fifth and 10th, respectively, in times of 23.27, 23.80 and 24.07, with Trotter and Madison gaining acceptance into the regional competition.
Tennessee's final two regional qualifying outputs came via relays. First, it was the 4x100-meter relay combination of Olupona, Trotter, Madison and Treherne placing seventh in 45.48. Later, in the final event of the meet, the quartet of Trotter, Cook, Gorham and Bennett joined forces to lock up a regional berth in the 4x400m relay with a third-place performance of 3:32.71.
Senior Jessica Southers (Ashland, Ky.) contributed the only other noteworthy finish on the day, taking fifth in the 5000-meter run in a time of 17:21.06.
Other Sea Ray Notes From Saturday: Winning the Tony Wilson Memorial Award (Women's Running Events) was Tonette Dyer, San Diego State...She won the 200m in 22.96, second fastest time in world/best by an American...Was second in the Invitational 100m in 11.51...Ran on winning 4x200m relay (1:33.31)...Ran on sixth-place 4x100m relay (45.22)...Winning the Tony Wilson Memorial Award (Women's Field Events) was Colleen Scott, Unattached...She won the triple jump with a Sea Ray Relays record leap of 45-3.75, a mark that is the best by an American in 2004...Finished 13th in the long jump at 18-6.50...In other notes, Aleen Bailey of Speed Elite won her third-consecutive Sea Ray Relays 100m dash title...South Carolina won its third-consecutive shuttle hurdle relay at the meet and its fourth overall...Cleopatra Borel of Trinidad won her second-straight Sea Rays shot put title (60-10/18.54m)...Catherine Berry of Asics was a double victor, claiming the 5000 meters on Saturday after taking the 3000m title on Friday.