May 14, 2004
OXFORD, Miss. - Katie Flaute and Felicia Guliford took fifth and eighth in the 10,000 meters, and the ninth-ranked University of Tennessee women qualified three in the 800 meters and two in the 200 meters on a water-logged Friday night at the Southeastern Conference Track & Field Championships.
Running in the heaviest rain of the evening, Flaute, Guliford and senior Jessica Southers (Ashland, Ky.) each registered personal-record times despite competing in weather conditions that were absolutely miserable. Flaute, a sophomore from Dayton, Ohio, supplied UT its first points of the meet (four) with a fifth-place clocking of 35:26.96 to improve her PR by 11 seconds. Guliford, a sophomore from Gallup, N.M., also contributed to the scoring cause, adding a point for her eighth-place showing of 35:59.52. Southers had a 33-second PR, checking in 10th at 36:16.48, while redshirt freshman Carly Matthews (Winston-Salem, N.C.) did not finish.
With those contributions, Tennessee stands in ninth place with five points after two days of competition at the soggy Ole Miss Track & Field Complex, and with the bulk of its points still to come. Indoor champion Florida as well as Arkansas and Georgia share the lead with 22 points each, followed by Vanderbilt (11), Auburn (10), LSU (8), South Carolina (8) and Ole Miss (6). Alabama is 10th (3), while Kentucky and Mississippi State have yet to score.
"We had some nice qualifiers tonight in the 800 meters and 200 meters, and we got a big five points in the 10,000 meters, with three of our athletes running personal bests in that event," Clark said. "The team continues to give its best effort, and a coach has to be content with that. We look forward to coming back out tomorrow and giving another good effort."
In the prelims of the 800 meters, Tennessee advanced three to Sunday's finals. Leading wire to wire in a heavy downpour, senior Kameisha Bennett (Dayton, Ohio) won heat two in a conservative 2:06.45 to advance with the fourth-fastest time of the trials, while freshman Leslie Treherne (Chesapeake, Va.) earned a ticket to the finals by following Bennett across the line in a career-best 2:07.07. Also in heat two, junior Antoinette Gorham (Glenarden, Md.) uncorked a career-best and regional-qualifying time of 2:08.72, and redshirt freshman Mindy Sullivan (Lubbock, Texas) posted a season-topping 2:10.48. Neither made the finals against the speedy field, however, placing 15th and 19th, respectively.
In the fourth and final qualifying heat of the 800m, SEC indoor champion Nicole Cook (Petersburg, Va.) also led from start to finish, splashing to the third-fastest time of the prelims in a season-topping 2:05.58. On Sunday, she will attempt to pull off the first season conference sweep by a Lady Vol in any event since Alana Preston seized the indoor and outdoor shot put titles in 1995.
Cook's path won't be an easy one, however, as Mississippi State's Tiffany McWilliams posted the fastest qualifying time and served notice to the field, cranking out a 2:01.00 readout in heat one that toppled former Lady Vol Joetta Clark's 1984 SEC record of 2:01.15. LSU's Neisha Bernard-Thomas won heat three in 2:03.91 with the day's second quickest performance.
With the rain coming down even harder, the Lady Vols were able to move two sprinters on to Sunday's finals in the 200-meter dash. Junior Dee Dee Trotter (Decatur, Ga.) was second in heat three and fourth overall in 23.56 to earn a lane in the money race. Joining her in the quest for points on the final day of the meet will be classmate Toyin Olupona (Orillia, Ontario, Canada), who was the ninth and final qualifier with her fourth-place,heat-one time of 24.34. Freshman Tianna Madison (Elyria, Ohio) was unable to join them, however, taking fifth in heat two and placing 16th overall in 24.88 after standing water on the track forced one of her shoes to come off her heel.
In the heptathlon, sophomore Caitlin Ward (Gibsonia, Pa.) and freshman Edra Finley (Mobile, Ala.) came up with career-best point totals of 4,692 and 4,665, respectively, to finish in 10th and 11th place. Vanderbilt's Josie Hahn walked away with the victor's trophy, tallying 5,492 points to hold off South Carolina's Chelsea Hammond (5,235).
Ward was 12th in the long jump with a mark of 16-6.50 to grab 570 points. She then tallied 403 points in the javelin with a career-best throw of 85-7 to take ninth. She closed out the two-day competition in the 800 meters by logging a victorious and career-best 2:18.13 readout to accumulate 849 points. Finley, meanwhile, took third in the long jump by registering a career-best leap of 18-10 to tally 771 points. Next, she fired the javelin to a measurement of 71-5 to score 322 points and place 14th. To conclude the two-day event, Finley raced to a PR time of 2:27.26 in the 800 meters to place 10th and bag 728 points.
"I thought Dee Dee Trotter looked great tonight, along with Nicole and Kameisha," Clark said. "We had several PRs in the heptathlon and a very nice competition, especially from Edra Finley. Though she didn't make the finals, Antoinette Gorham also ran her best time in the 800. Overall, it was a good second day of competition for us."
In the first event of day two, junior Sara Vigil (Tucson, Ariz.) also battled wet weather, placing 18th in the hammer throw with a fling of 151-9.
"The conditions were nasty, but they were the same for everyone," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "It's something that happens from time to time in track & field, and you just have to deal with it. I thought our team maintained its focus pretty well, which is reflected in them running several PRs tonight."
The Lady Vols begin action on Saturday at 4 p.m. CT with the long jump finals and have entires in two other finals and four preliminary events.