April 28, 2012
PHILADELPHIA -- Tennessee finished its stay at the 118th Penn Relays with a pair of top-three efforts, and a trio of former members of the program fueled wins for Team USA in front of a Saturday crowd of 49,810 at Franklin Field.
In the women's Championship of America 4x800m relay, the Lady Vols ran the No. 5 time in school history, but that readout of eight minutes, 27.04 seconds was not enough to match victorious Oregon, which covered the distance in 8:24.16 for its first Penn Relays title in that event. UT had hoped to capture its second baton event win at this meet and claim its eighth 4x8 triumph here. The Big Orange women, however, did match their DMR runner-up effort from Thursday and had the upset win in the sprint medley relay on Friday.
The UT 4x8 lineup included junior Nijgia Snapp, sophomore Kianna Ruff and seniors Brittany Sheffey and Chanelle Price, who closed her Penn Relays career with a 2:04.2 anchor leg. Entering the race with six Penn relay titles, Price was one win shy of matching Cathy Rattray for the most Penn victories in school history. She ends up tied with Lady Vols Joetta Clark and Phoebe Wright and Vols Willie Gault and Reggie Jones.
"We always come out and do the best that we can," UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark said. "We're always in the running for a win, and I've seen that consistently from our team at the Penn Relays. Over the years, we've collected quite a few victories, and we are probably in the running for the top two here more than any other team in recent years.
"We performed well, with this being Nijgia Snapp's first race of the season due to an injury she had earlier. She did as well as she could be expected to do. We had a great meet. We won one and took second in two other women's relays, and that is a good complement for our program."
In the men's championship pole vault, it was a mixed bag for the Vols on a cool, breezy day. Sophomore Chase Brannon turned in a clearance of 16-6 3/4 to snare a third-place finish with his second-best height of the outdoor campaign. Senior teammate Robert Rasnick, though, suffered his first no-height showing since the outdoor season opener.
"This is not a great place to vault," Clark said. "They had a hard time finding their steps and there always is a swirling wind in this stadium. One minute it was in their face and the next it was at their back. Trying to get in a groove is just tough here in that environment, but they did get some work in that will help them as they prepare for SECs in two weeks."
In UT's only other event of the final day, the men's 4x800m relay carded a 10th-place result in the Championship of America race with a readout of 7:33.98. Carrying the baton were freshman Nick Kaiser, senior Garrek Thompson, senior Joe Franklin and freshman Antonio Carter, with Kaiser posting the fastest leg at 1:52.1.
"It was a situation where we are gaining experience, giving our freshmen Nick and Antonio an opportunity to experience what we need to do to come back here and win at some point," Clark said. "We have good young men at home who are developing and will help us when we come back next year. I am optimistic about both programs."
In The USA vs. The World competition, Tennessee alums played a role in three of six relay victories by the Americans, much to the delight of their countrymen and women in the raucous crowd. Team USA went 6-0 in the showdown that precedes the build-up toward the 2012 Olympic Games this summer.
In the women's sprint medley relay, former Lady Vol Phoebe Wright ran the 400-meter leg as USA Blue overtook Jamaica for the win in 3:42.85. Wright ran a 53.9 hitch for her team, as that unit started the Americans on a spree of impressive victories.
Former Vol great Justin Gatlin was up next, and he did not disappoint, rocketing USA Red into the lead and sending that unit on to a victory in the men's 4x100m relay in 38.40.
In the women's 4x100m relay, Tianna Madison came out of the blocks with a purpose, making up the stagger and propelling her USA Red quartet to a first-place finish in a meet- and stadium-record time of 42.19.
Lady Vol alums DeeDee Trotter and Erica Moore also participated in the competition. Trotter ran the lead-off leg for USA Blue's third-place 4x400m relay effort of 3:27.08, while Moore was set to anchor USA Red in the sprint medley relay before a dropped baton ended their race.
"Having former athletes competing for the USA and competing at this meet is always exciting," Clark said. "It shows that we've produced great athletes in this program, and they are performing well in this Olympic year."
Tennessee is not scheduled to compete next weekend, but the squad will continue preparations for the SEC Outdoor Championships in Baton Rouge, La., May 10-13.
Championship Pole Vault: 3. Chase Brannon, 8:27.04; NM - Robert Rasnick
4x800m Relay Championship of America: 10. Nick Kaiser / Garrek Thompson / Joe Franklin / Antonio Carter, 7:33.98
Sprint Medley Relay Championship of America: 2. Arnez Hardnick / Jamol James / Varick Tucker / Nick Kaiser, 3:21.41
4x200m Relay Prelims: DNA - Reggie Juin / Jamal James /Jarael Nelvis / Arnez Hardnick, 1:25.19p/3rd, ht. 4 (10th)
110m Hurdles Prelims: DNA - Terry Benson, 14.32p (w: -0.9)/7th, ht. 2 (20th)
4x100m Relay Prelims: DNA - Reggie Juin / Jamal James / Jarael Nelvis / Desmond Brown, 41.43p/4th, ht. 2 (24th)
College Long Jump: NM - Desmond Brown
Championship 5000m: 23. Chris Bodary, 14:38.08
College 5000m: 20. Tom Gilmartin, 14:52.25!
Olympic Development 5000m: 20. Stephen Derlath, 14:57.59!
Sprint Medley Relay Championship of America: 1. Brittany Jones / Martinique Octave / Ellen Wortham / Chanelle Price, 3:43.79
Championship 4x100m Relay: 6. Ashley Harris / Brittany Jones / Kia Jackson / Ellen Wortham, 44.98
College Triple Jump: 9. Allison Outerbridge, 39-10.75/12.16m (nwi)
100m Dash Prelims: DNA - Kia Jackson, 11.83p (w: 0.3)/4th, ht. 2 (11th)
100m Hurdles Prelims: DNF - Bianca Blair
Distance Medley Relay Championship of America: 2. Chanelle Price / Ellen Wortham / Kianna Ruff / Brittany Sheffey, 11:03.53
College Pole Vault: 2. Linda Hadfield, 13-1.50/4.00m
Championship 3000m: 21. Amber Zimmerman, 10:06.51!; 22. Kelsey Kane, 10:07.42!
4x100m Relay Prelims: Adv. Ashley Harris / Brittany Jones / Kia Jackson / Ellen Wortham, 44.98/2nd, ht. 5 (8th)
! - personal record, DNF - did not finish, DNS - did not start, DQ - disqualified, F- foul, fr - facility record, FS - false start, h - heat, m - meters, mr - meet record, NM - no mark registered, NH - no height registered, p - preliminary round, sr - school record, w - wind-aided