April 18, 2004

WALNUT, Calif.

Despite less than ideal conditions in a state known for its beautiful weather, the ninth-ranked University of Tennessee women's track & field team managed to bring home four new NCAA regional qualifiers from a pair of meets in California over the weekend.

At the Mt. SAC Relays, held at Mt. San Antonio College's Hilmer Lodge Stadium in Walnut, rainy and windy conditions subsided just enough late Saturday evening to allow three qualifying marks in the middle distance events. Junior Nicole Cook (Petersburg, Va.), the NCAA Indoor champion in the 800 meters, made her outdoor debut at that distance a successful one, easily winning the University/Open division in 2:05.66. Cook, who won her sixth-straight 800m race after going 5-0 indoors, joins teammates Leslie Treherne (Chesapeake, Va.) and senior Lindsay Hyatt (Auburn, Calif.) to form a trio of UT 800m runners who have earned trips to the NCAA Mideast Regional meet in Baton Rouge, La., on May 28-29.

Senior Kameisha Bennett (Dayton, Ohio) and redshirt freshman Mindy Sullivan (Lubbock, Texas) also competed in the same race as Cook but neither logged a time worthy of qualifying. Bennett took a tumble after being pushed from behind and displayed great resolve in finishing hard in 2:12.12 (23rd), while Sullivan checked in 44th at 2:15.24.

Speaking of Hyatt, the Golden State native added another qualifying mark to her resume, earning a trip in the University/Open 1500 meters on Saturday night along with sophomore Brooke Novak (Kaukauna, Wis.). Hyatt clicked along to a career-best clocking of 4:19.74 to place seventh, while Novak also notched a personal record via an 11th-place result of 4:22.80.



Freshman Tianna Madison (Elyria, Ohio) was in action at Mt. SAC on Saturday evening as well, but slippery conditions did not make for a favorable situation for the University/Open long jump. Madison did manage to place fourth with a leap of 19-4/5.89m but was not able to improve on her season's best of 20-3.75/6.19m.

Earlier on Saturday, sprinters Madison and junior Toyin Olupona (Orillia, Ontario, Canada) ran in wet and gusty weather at the Springco-Long Beach Invitational at nearby Long Beach State University. The conditions were evident by looking at the times, but Madison and Olupona did manage to take third and fourth, respectively, in the 100-meter dash in 11.79 and 11.81, while Olupona tied for fourth in the 200 meters at 24.43.

Sunday's forecast was much more to the athletes' liking, and UT's sprinters took advantage of the improved weather as they collected one new qualifying mark and upgraded another. After seeing Madison and Olupona earn NCAA bids in the 100 meters at the Sea Ray Relays, junior Dee Dee Trotter charted one for herself in the straight sprint. The Decatur, Ga., product crossed the line 11th in 11.73, but the mark was her first qualifier in that event this season. Madison was seventh in an NCAA qualifying time of 11.61, but her effort was not an improvement over her victorious 11.50 at Sea Rays.

In the 200 meters, Trotter and Madison finished second and fourth, reporting in with times of 23.52 and 23.66, respectively. Both met the NCAA standard but were not able to chart improvements. Madison's performance, however, was a career-best. Torri Edwards of adidas won in 23.03, but the Lady Vol standouts ranked as the top two collegiate finishers.

"We came out here, and the objective was to get some good work in and get sharper as we approach the SEC and NCAA Championships," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "We experienced the worst weather we have faced so far during the outdoor season. It was cold, rainy and windy at Long Beach, but our sprinters still executed their race plans.

"Nicole ran in some uncomfortable conditions, but she still won convincingly. Lindsay Hyatt looked very good in the 1500 meters, and she and Brooke are coming home with qualifying marks. Overall, we faced some less than ideal circumstances, and I think we still managed to achieve our objective."

After returning home Monday, the Lady Vols will leave Wednesday and begin competing Thursday at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, Pa. UT will then come back late Saturday night and head to Tom Black Track on Sunday, April 25, for the Knoxville Invitational, which is slated to start with three-consecutive women's field events at 9:30 a.m.

Long Beach, Calif.
100m (Regional: 11.78) 3:45 p.m. ET
3rdTianna Madison11.79 (nwi)/2nd, ht. 1
4thToyin Olupona11.81 (nwi)/3rd, ht. 1
200m (Regional: 23.96) 5:35 p.m. ET
t4thToyin Olupona24.43 (nwi)/2nd, ht. 1
Walnut, Calif.
Open Long Jump (Regional: 19-5.50/5.93m) 9:30 p.m. ET
4thTianna Madison19-4/5.89 m (wind N/A)
Open 800m (Regional: 2:10.29) 9:45 p.m. ET
1stNicole Cook2:05.66#
23rdKameisha Bennett2:12.12
44thMindy Sullivan2:15.24
Open 1500m (Regional: 4:29.12) Midnight ET
7thLindsay Hyatt4:19.74!#
11thBrooke Novak4:22.80!#
Open 100m (Regional: 11.78) 2:30 p.m. ET
7thTianna Madison11.61# (w: 0.5)/4th, ht. 2
11thDee Dee Trotter11.73# (w: 0.5)/5th, ht. 2
Open 200m (Regional: 23.96) 4:40 p.m. ET
2ndDee Dee Trotter23.52# (w: -1.7)/1st., ht. 3
4thTianna Madison23.66!# (w: 0.6)/2nd, ht. 4


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