May 6, 2005

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Freshman Courtney Champion earned regional qualifying marks in the 100 and 200 meters, and junior Brooke Novak came up with a regional-worthy effort in the 800 meters, as the fifth-ranked University of Tennessee women's track & field team closed out its home schedule Friday night at the Knoxville Twilight.

Champion, who has been brought along slowly during the outdoor campaign after a sensational indoor season, earned qualifying marks in two events for the NCAA Mideast Regional meet in Bloomington, Ind., on May 27-28. The freshman from Lawrenceville, Ga., took second in the 100 meters in 11.59 and was the runner-up in the 200 meters in 23.68, making successful 2005 debuts in each event at UT's Tom Black Track.

The addition of Champion to the regional list in those sprint races now gives Tennessee four qualifiers in the 100 meters and three in the 200 meters. Among those ranks are senior Toyin Olupona (Orillia, Ontario, Canada), sophomore Tianna Madison (Elyria, Ohio), freshman Cleo Tyson (Huntsville, Texas) and Champion in the shorter race, and Tyson, Olupona and Champion in the longer one.

Madison ran 11.43 to beat Champion for the 100m title Friday night, while former Lady Vol Dee Dee Trotter logged a 23.46 readout to top Champion for the 200m crown. Madison, the current world leader in the long jump at 22 feet, 4 1/2 inches, also picked up her third-straight victory in that event this season, triumphing with a best hop of 21-7.50.

Junior Brooke Novak (Kaukauna, Wis.) also demonstrated that she could once again be a factor in the distance races at the league gathering. Novak, who will most likely run 1500 meters, tuned up with a career-best 800-meter clocking of 2:08.95 that was good enough for fourth place behind a trio of Head Coach J.J. Clark's Knoxville Elite post-collegiate athletes. The mark, which ranks fifth in the SEC this season, also earned Novak a berth in the regional meet in her second event.



In the discus throw, freshman Shanna Dickenson (Cincinnati, Ohio) moved to number nine on UT's all-time performers list in that event with a victorious throw of 161-2. The season-best mark ranks her eighth in the Southeastern Conference this season entering next weekend's conference meet in Nashville. She had previously booked her ticket to regionals at the Penn Relays last week.

In the 400 meters, Antoinette Gorham (Glenarden, Md.) continued a fine senior season, notching a personal-record time of 53.31 to make the regional field in her second event (800m is the other). Freshman LaTonya Loche (Bastrop, La.) made her first appearance of the outdoor slate a positive one, logging a career-topping 54.90 output to take second, while junior Caitlin Ward (Gibsonia, Pa.) was third at 57.98.

Junior April Thomas (Albany, Ga.) won for the third time in four outings this season in the shot put, registering a heave of 47-2.25. Freshman Amara McKell (Nashville, Tenn.) was second with a career-best performance of 42-6.75, while Dickenson was third at 42-5.50, junior Ariel Brooks (Miami, Fla.) was fourth at 41-4.50 and Ward was fifth at 35-1.25.

In the hammer throw, school record-holder Brooks picked up her first victory as a Lady Vol, charting a measurement of 166-2. Thomas was second with a career-best heave of 159-3, while Dickenson was third at 158-4.

Three career-topping runs occurred in the 1500 meters, where sophomore Mindy Sullivan (Lubbock, Texas) was third in 4:29.54 behind a pair of Knoxville Elite standouts, while junior Felicia Guliford (Gallup, N.M.) and senior Elizabeth McCalley (Knoxville, Tenn.) were fourth and fifth, respectively, in 4:31.20 and 4:32.03. Junior Katie Flaute (Dayton, Ohio) was eighth in 4:57.97.

Other Lady Vol finishers in the running events included junior Catherine Wright (Knoxville, Tenn.) taking second in the 100m hurdles at 16.94; junior Patricia Hall (St. Ann, Jamaica) grabbing third in the 200m in 24.13; and Guliford snagging eighth in the 800 meters at 2:16.32. UT's 4x400m relay lineup of Loche, Hall, Gorham and Madison closed out the meet by taking second in 3:43.64.

Additional Big Orange results in the field events included junior Edra Finley (Mobile, Ala.) finishing second in the long jump in a career-tying 19-0.75; and Brooks (146-1), Thomas (133-9) and McKell taking second through fourth in the discus throw. McKell was also second in the javelin at 104-9.



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