April 23, 2009
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- The University of Tennessee women's track & field team has developed a reputation for running the distance medley relay, and running it well. Head coach J.J. Clark's Lady Vols added to that growing legacy Thursday evening at Franklin Field, winning the event in front of a crowd of 24,315 at the 115th Penn Relays.
UT, which set a world record and won its second-straight and third overall NCAA DMR national title indoors in March, claimed its fourth Penn Relays victory in that event and its 14th overall baton-race triumph in meet history with a readout of 11 minutes, 2.11 seconds. The Big Orange, who posted the fifth fastest time in program annals, had previously won in 1993, 2004 and 2007 and posted a runner-up outcome here in 2008.
The quartet of junior Phoebe Wright, senior Kimarra McDonald, freshman Chanelle Price and senior Sarah Bowman carried the stick for Tennessee, holding off a valiant effort by runner-up Georgetown (11:02.85) in what turned out to be a two-team race. Bowman, who had bad memories of anchoring three UT runner-up teams that yielded first by a combined total of 2.69 second in 2008, put to rest any notion of a fourth-straight heartbreak when she staved off an upset bid by the Hoyas' Maggie Infield down the homestretch. It was Bowman's third victorious anchor leg for Team Orange, following 2006 sprint medley and 2007 DMR wins.
The Lady Vols learned just hours before the race that they would have to run the DMR without their usual 400m leg, Brittany Jones. The sophomore stayed in Knoxville an extra day to participate in a group presentation for her Social Work 250 class. After completing her academic responsibilities, Jones made a mad dash for Knoxville's McGhee-Tyson Airport. By the time she made the 15-minute drive and pulled up to the airport's concourse, she helplessly watched as her plane pulled away from the gate.
Enter McDonald, who hails from nearby Lumberton, N.J. The senior middle distance runner gamely took the baton in third place after a 3:22.2 1200m opener from Wright and delivered a nifty 54.7 400m hitch in Jones' absence to help Wright, Price and herself secure their first career Championship of America relay wheel. Price kicked in a strong 800m outing, generating a 2:04.5 count in which she impressively took back the lead (from Georgetown and Duke) within the first 60 meters and later deposited the baton in Bowman's waiting hand with a seven-meter advantage. By her third lap of the 1600 meters, Bowman had pushed the lead out to 15 meters over Infield. To her credit the GU runner never quit, giving UT a scare over the final 200 meters before the Lady Vols' nine-time All-American closed the door.
"It was just good to come here and get the win," Clark said. "After missing out on victories last season in three consecutive races, it was nice to come here and get it done. We had to run without Brittany Jones today, but Kimarra stepped in to fill the void and did a great job."
The Lady Vols also picked up a victory and two new NCAA regional qualifying marks in the 5000 meters on Thursday night. Junior Jackie Areson ran patiently, but aggressively when the pace quickened with two laps to go, and out-dueled Florida's Genevieve LaCaze for Tennessee's first-ever Penn Relays 5K title. She met the regional qualifying standard for the first time in 2009 with a 16:11.71 reading that was a personal best by 15 1/2 seconds and the No. 7 fastest time ever at UT. Senior Katie Van Horn also joined the regional qualifier and PR club, covering the distance in 16:37.79 for nearly an eight-second PR.
"Jackie ran great; wow," Clark said. "It was a 15 or 16-second PR for her and a really good run. She looked good, controlled the race for much of the time, didn't panic when she got passed and had a lot left to finish. She ran a very good time.
"It was very good for Katie Van Horn to get back and run a solid 5K. It was her outdoor PR and a regional mark, so good job to Katie. Great job to both of them to come here and do that."
In Tennessee's first relay action of the meet, the 4x100-meter quartet got the job done and advanced to Friday's 1:10 p.m. final. The quartet of senior Celriece Law, freshmen Ashley Harris and Ellen Wortham and junior Lynne Layne moved the stick around the track in a season-best 45.36. That readout was good for second in heat four behind North Carolina (45.24) and seventh fastest of the qualifiers. Heat two winner Texas A&M had the fastest prelim time at 43.80.
"Our 4x1 wanted to come here and make the final, and that is what they did," Clark said. "They ran their best race of the year, they made the final and we're going to keep moving forward from there. We look forward to seeing them in the final on Friday."
Individually, the Lady Vols got 12th and 19th places in the long jump from Layne and Law, respectively, with leaps of 18-10 1/2 and 18-3. In the 400m hurdles, the first running event of the meet, Wortham finished 33rd in 1:03.45, while senior Amanda Alexander was 48th in 1:04.73 while competing in cold and windy conditions.
In addition to the 4x1 competing on Friday, the Lady Vols will be in action in the 4x1500m relay Championship of America (1:30 p.m.), and Layne and Law will run in the prelims of the 100m dash (3:35 p.m.) and 100m hurdles (3:40 p.m.), respectively.
On the West Coast Thursday night, two Lady Vol throwers were in action at the Pumping Iron Discus Classic at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. Competing in the A Flight against a number of national and international caliber competitors, sophomore Annie Alexander placed fourth with a toss of 180 feet, 9 inches. In B Flight, freshman Akeela Bravo was fourth with a career-best toss of 140-5.
|THURSDAY, APRIL 23 AT PENN RELAYS|
|(3) Coll. 400mH (Regional: 1:00.82) 10:00 a.m.|
|33rd||Ellen Wortham||1:03.45/5th, ht. 5|
|48th||Amanda Alexander||1:04.73/8th, ht. 1|
|(12) 4x100m Relay Prelims (Regional: 45.70) 1:00 p.m.|
|Adv.||Celriece Law/Ashley Harris/Ellen Wortham/Lynne Layne||45.36#/2nd, ht. 4 (7th)|
|(283) Coll. Long Jump (Regional: 19-8.25/6.00m) 4:00 p.m.|
|(60) Distance Medley Relay Champ. (Not An NCAA Event) 5:25 p.m.|
|1st||Phoebe Wright/Kimarra McDonald/Chanelle Price/Sarah Bowman||11:02.11|
|(76) Coll. 5000m (Regional: 16:52.00) 8:30 p.m.|
|12th||Katie Van Horn||16:37.79!#|
|THURSDAY, APRIL 23 AT PUMPING IRON DISCUS CLASSIC|
|Discus A Flight (Regional: 155-2/47.30m) 5 p.m.|
|Discus B Flight (Regional: 155-2/47.30m) 5 p.m.|
|FRIDAY, APRIL 24 AT PENN RELAYS|
|(116) 4x100m Relay Champ. (Regional: 45.70) 1:10 p.m.|
|Celriece Law/Ashley Harris/Ellen Wortham/Lynne Layne|
|(124) 4x1500m Relay Champ. (Not An NCAA Event) 1:30 p.m.|
|Chanelle Price/Rolanda Bell/Phoebe Wright/Sarah Bowman|
|(148) 100m Prelims (Regional: 11.75) 3:35 p.m.|
|(137) 100mH Prelims (Regional: 13.92) 3:40 p.m.|
|FRIDAY, APRIL 24 AT UCSD TRITON INV.|
|Inv. Hammer (Auto: 5,500; Prov: 5,050) 1 p.m.|
|Inv. Discus (Regional: 155-2/47.30m) 5 p.m.|
|Open Discus (Regional: 155-2/47.30m) 6:30 p.m.|
|SATURDAY, APRIL 25 AT PENN RELAYS|
|(231) 4x800m Relay Champ. (Not An NCAA Event) 2:00 p.m.|
|SATURDAY, APRIL 25 AT UCSD TRITON INV.|
|Javelin (Regional: 142-6/43.45m) 12:30 p.m.|
|Inv. Shot Put (Regional: 46-11/14.30m) 6:00 p.m.|
|Open Shot Put (Regional: 46-11/14.30m) 7:30 p.m.|
|SATURDAY, APRIL 25 AT WKU INV.|
|Pole Vault (Regional: 12-7.50/3.85m) TBA|
* All Times Eastern
# - NCAA Regional Qualifier, * - NCAA Automatic Qualifier, + - NCAA Provisional Qualifier, ! - Personal Record (Outdoors), dnf - Did Not Finish, dnq - Did Not Qualify, dnr - Did Not Run, dns - Did Not Start, dq - Disqualified, f - Facility Record, fs - False Start, h - Hand Times, nm - No Mark, p - Prelims, s - School Record (Outdoors).