April 22, 2004
University of Tennessee Head Women's Track & Field Coach J.J. Clark told his quartet before it ran the distance medley relay at the 110th Penn Relays Thursday evening that the group was the best DMR unit in the country. The Lady Vol foursome believed their coach's words and went out and proved him correct, steaming impressively to the Championship of America in that event in front of a day one meet-record crowd of 24,613 at Franklin Field.
Sporting the same lineup that won the NCAA Indoor championship in March at 11:06.07 and set the UT record in January at 11:03.42, Tennessee captured the school's first "relay wheel" at the prestigious meet since the 4x100m unit took top honors in 1994. The lineup of sophomore Brooke Novak (Kaukauna, Wis.), junior Dee Dee Trotter (Decatur, Ga.), junior Nicole Cook (Petersburg, Va.) and senior Lindsay Hyatt (Auburn, Calif.) collaborated for a season-best clocking of 10:59.35 to win convincingly over second-place Georgetown (11:03.76) and third-place North Carolina (11:05.16). The mark by the Orange and White outfit was the third-best clocking in school history.
"Tennessee came to the track, executed the race plan and won the Championship of America in the DMR," Clark said. "We had the top DMR indoors, and today we showed that we also have the best DMR outdoors. We've come a long way in one year and really displayed a big heart today. 10:59 is not too shabby.
"Person for person, I thought we had the best relay coming in. I am not bragging when I say this, but I was looking for us to be pushed more. Stanford dropped the baton at the start of the race,
so you don't know what might have happened. The bottom line is that we proved we have the best team in the country by running that way today."
The UT triumph at Penn, the school's first in the DMR since J.J. Clark's sister, Joetta, ran the opening leg in the program's initial victory back in 1983, effectively ended a three-year spree of domination in the event by North Carolina. Running without the services of anchor Shalane Flanagan, who is training for the Olympics as an unattached competitor this season, the Tar Heels were in the hunt early but didn't have a closer who could catch UT's Hyatt.
Novak led off for the Big Orange and headed the field for the first two laps before briefly giving way to Erica Sigmont of Arkansas on trip three around the oval. With about 180 meters to go, Novak switched into a gear that Sigmont nor North Carolina's Erin Donohue or Stanford's Ari Lambie could match, making the hand-off to Trotter in first place with a 1200-meter split of 3:21.4. That effort represents the sixth-fastest opening hitch in Penn Relays history.
Just as she did in the DMR at the NCAA Indoor meet, Trotter uncorked a 400-meter performance that separated Tennessee from the rest of the field. The 2003 NCAA runner-up in that event, Trotter rocketed to a 50.7 split, a reading that was nearly two seconds faster than anyone else on the track and rated a tie for seventh best in meet history.
With the first two legs providing Tennessee an advantage, Cook and Hyatt were afforded the opportunity to run relaxed races in the 800 (2:05.2) and 1600 meters (4:42.1), respectively. Both looked very comfortable in their turns with the baton, and Hyatt was again able to bring home the stick victoriously, just as she had done in Fayetteville, Ark., at the NCAA meet a little over a month ago.
"People were starting to wonder whether Tennessee could enjoy the same success my sister and some of her teammates did back in the 1980s," Clark said. "The young ladies on this team have demonstrated that the answer is yes. Joetta and her peers are excited about it, the team is excited about it, and the coaches, administrators and fans are excited about it. We just want to keep working hard and making forward progress."
Forward progress indeed. Entering the meet, Tennessee was considered a contender for the title in the DMR, but many were favoring UNC to continue its streak. The Lady Vols took fourth at the meet a season ago with Novak, Trotter, Cook and Sharon Dickie toting the baton to an 11:13.38 count that rated fifth in school annals at the time. This season, UT had an 11:14.09 result to its credit, which was achieved on April 10 by Cook, Gorham, redshirt freshman Mindy Sullivan (Lubbock, Texas) and Hyatt in a second-place run at the Sea Ray Relays. That mark rated sixth all-time for the Lady Vols and was the fastest outdoor DMR clocking by a UT quartet that early in the season.
While the DMR contributors are done for the night, Tennessee will have five more athletes in action late on Thursday evening in the distance carnival. Senior Jessica Southers (Ashland, Ky.), junior Elizabeth McCalley (Knoxville, Tenn.), sophomore Felicia Guliford (Gallup, N.M.) and redshirt freshman Carly Matthews (Winston-Salem, N.C.) compete in the 5000 meters, while sophomore Katie Flaute (Dayton, Ohio) participates in the 10,000 meters.
|THURSDAY, APRIL 22 AT THE PENN RELAYS|
|(TENTATIVE EVENT SCHEDULE)|
|EVENT (NCAA DIV. I QUALIFYING MARKS)|
|Dist. Medley Relay-Champ. (Not An NCAA Event)|
|1st||Brooke Novak/Dee Dee Trotter/Nicole Cook/Lindsay Hyatt||10:59.35|
|5000m-Champ. (Regional: 16:56.43) 7:55 p.m.|
|5000m-Oly. Development (Regional: 16:56.43) 8:15 p.m.|
|10,000m-Champ. (Auto: 34:10.00, Prov: 35:15.00) 9:30 p.m.|
College Women's Distance Medley Relay Championship of America
1 10:59.35 Tennessee * Brooke Novak 3:21.4, Dee Dee Trotter 50.7, Nicole Cook 2:05.2, Lindsay Hyatt 4:42.1
2 11:03.76 Georgetown *Colleen Kelly 3:25.4, Monica Hargrove 53.9, Maura McCusker 2:08.9, Treniere Clement 4:35.6
3 11:05.16 North Carolina *Erin Donohue 3:22.1, Anissa Gainey 52.5, Alice Schmidt 2:05.7, Carol Henry 4:44.9
4 11:06.68 Villanova *Rebecca Mitchell 3:27.4, Nicole Bridgewood 56.2, Colleen Taylor 2:08.9, Marina Muncan 4:34.2
5 11:06.83 Stanford *Arianna Lambie 3:22.2, Nashone Johnson 52.2, Chinny Offor 2:10.9, Sara Bei 4:41.5
6 11:09.99 Wake Forest *Nikeya Green 3:23.6, Diane Anderson 54.9, Shauna Danos 2:11.5, Anna Sherman 4:40.0
7 11:17.46 Mississippi State *Jennifer McPherson 3:31.7, Nicole Dunn 57.2, Zita Magliore 2:15.1, Tiffany McWilliams 4:33.5
8 11:19.29 Florida State *Vicky Gill , Tamara Campbell, Helen Hofstede, Natalie Hughes
9 11:20.52 Arkansas *Erica Sigmont 3:22.6, Lashaunte'a Moore 53.5, Aneita Denton 2:09.1, Londa Bevins 4:55.3
10 11:26.71 Auburn *Caitlin Reese, Kyhesha Hills, Sarah Reese, Spring Dawson
11 11:27.68 Pennsylvania *Kim Milans, Izu Emeagwali, Tina Morrison, Emily Logan
12 11:41.12 Duke *Sally Meyerhoff, Lindsey Owen, Meaghan Leon, Shannon Rowbury
Lady Vol Quick Quotes...
Dee Dee Trotter - on expectations coming in to the race: "Being Indoor NCAA Champs, we expected to be champions here."
Lindsay Hyatt - on her anchor leg - "It's a strategy when you are in the lead. I definitely went out hard for a purpose. I was focusing on the last 200. I was happy with the way I ran... we won!"
Nicole Cook - "It feels good to put UT back on the map. We were a dominant force in the 80s and 90s. We are looking forward to that same thing again."
Coach J.J. Clark - "Its very exciting to come back here to the Penn Relays. The DMR is always an important and prestigious event. We are back on the right track by winning this event. The DMR is an exciting event. It holds a lot of weight. To be as dominant as we were today, it's a credit to how our girls performed."
On the atmosphere of the Penn Relays-
Cook- "It's very exciting. There are a lot of high school kids here that look up to the college girls."
Trotter - "You run better when there are a lot of people cheering."
Brooke Novak - "The competition is better here. Everyone puts together their best team. You can't really do that at the NCAA's."