April 29, 2005
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- Running in only its second race together, the University of Tennessee women's 4x100-meter relay quartet unleashed a school-record-setting performance and just missed claiming its first Championship of America trophy in that event in 11 years Friday afternoon at the 111th Penn Relays.
With the combination of sophomore Tianna Madison (Elyria, Ohio), freshman Courtney Champion (Lawrenceville, Ga.), senior Toyin Olupona (Orillia, Ontario, Canada) and freshman Cleo Tyson (Huntsville, Texas) carrying the baton in front of a crowd of over 20,000 at Franklin Field, Tennessee's effort resulted in a UT-best clocking of 43.58 seconds and a runner-up finish. Southeastern Conference foe South Carolina held off the team in orange, crossing the line in 43.40 to claim its second 4x1 title at this meet along with a victory in 2002. A one-through-four SEC sweep was closed out by third-place Florida (43.86) and fourth-place LSU (44.07).
After logging a 44.68 count in Thursday's prelims, in what was its first-ever race together, the UT tandem looked even more sure of itself on Friday. The talented collaboration kicked out the 10th-best collegiate women's time ever at the Penn Relays and unseated the 1995 school-record clocking of 43.70, which was put together by the Lady Vol foursome of Michelle Bookman, Cheyl Finley, Stephanie Fields and Sue Walton. UT came up just short of duplicating victories in the 4x1 at the meet in 1984 and 1994.
"Our relay team performed well in the 4x1" Lady Vol Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "It is the first meet this season that they have run together and to see them come out with a school
record is very exciting. They executed extremely well."
Later in the day, Madison and Tyson handled the 200-meter legs and junior Patricia Hall (St. Ann, Jamaica) and senior Antoinette Gorham (Glenarden, Md.) ran the 400m and 800m legs, respectively, as Tennessee's sprint medley relay also notched a second-place finish. Team Orange crossed the line in 3:47.97, while Texas Tech was just a half-second ahead in 3:47.50 to secure top honors.
Just as she did a year ago, Madison covered the opening hitch. This time, she handed the baton to Tyson with UT running third. The rookie quickly went to work and put the Lady Vols in front before passing the stick to the waiting Hall. Hall battled a South Carolina competitor throughout her quarter stint and was the second runner to hit the exchange zone before giving way to Gorham. Filling the 800m leg admirably for senior Nicole Cook, who was unable to compete this weekend due to injury, Gorham gave everything she had and very nearly delivered UT its second-straight Penn Relays win in the SMR.
"The sprint medley gave a very solid effort," said Clark, who had to account for the absence of Cook due to injury as well as for the losses of Dee Dee Trotter and Kameisha Bennett to professional careers. "It certainly puts a damper on things when you donâÂÂ?TMt have someone like Nicole Cook available to run the anchor leg, but I believe everyone gave the best they had today. We're ready to move on to tomorrow, and I know the 4x800m lineup will do the very best it can, win, lose or draw."
In the only other event involving a Lady Vol, sophomore Edra Finley (Mobile, Ala.) managed a tie for fifth place in the triple jump on Friday afternoon. She recorded a top effort of 39 feet, 11 1/4 inches (12.17m) in her first career appearance at this storied meet.
On Saturday, NBC will provide live coverage of the 111th Penn Relays, broadcasting from 4-6 p.m. Eastern Time. The bulk of the coverage will be devoted to the USA vs. the World relay showdown, which is the first event in the 2005 USA Track & Field Outdoor Visa Championship Series. Former Lady Vol and 2004 Olympic relay gold medalist Trotter is among the U.S. women in the 4x400m pool, while former Vols Justin Gatlin and Leonard Scott are part of the 4x100m relay pool. Gatlin, of course, was the 100m dash gold medalist and the 200m bronze medalist in Athens last summer.
|THURSDAY, APRlL 28 AT THE PENN RELAYS|
|Hammer Throw (Regional: 177-8/54.15m) 11:15 a.m.|
|No Mark||Shanna Dickenson|
|4x100m Relay Prelims (Regional: 45.80) 12:50 p.m.|
|Adv.||Tianna Madison/Courtney Champion|
Toyin Olupona/Cleo Tyson
|44.68p#/1st, ht. 5|
|Discus (Regional: 155-2/47.30m) 3:00 p.m.|
|Distance Medley Relay Champ. (Not An NCAA Event) 4:50 p.m.|
|7th||Brooke Novak/Antoinette Gorham|
Patricia Hall/Felicia Guliford
|Championship 5000m (Regional: 16:52.00) 8:25 p.m.|
|FRIDAY, APRlL 29 AT THE PENN RELAYS|
|Triple Jump (Regional: 40-2.75/12.26m) 11:00 a.m.|
|4x100m Relay Champ. (Regional: 45.80) 1:00 p.m.|
|2nd||Tianna Madison/Courtney Champion|
Toyin Olupona/Cleo Tyson
|Sprint Medley Relay Champ. (Not An NCAA Event) 6:20 p.m.|
|2nd||Tianna Madison/Cleo Tyson|
Patricia Hall/Antoinette Gorham
|SATURDAY, APRlL 30 AT THE PENN RELAYS|
|4x800mR Champ. (Not An NCAA Event) 1:40 p.m.|
|Lady Vol Lineup TBA|