May 14, 2011
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
ATHENS, Ga. -- The Tennessee men's and women's teams each put points on the scoreboard Friday in the 10,000 meters, and they also qualified individuals for finals in four more events at the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Spec Towns Track.
To close out day two, senior Liz Costello claimed a record-setting victory in the women's 10K. Just prior to that, senior Michael Spooner and freshman Jake Rainey finished in fourth and seventh place, respectively, in the men's 10K. The Vols added individual qualifiers in the 800 meters and 200 meters, while the Lady Vols moved along two in the 800 and another in the 400m hurdles.
After the 10K, the Lady Vols stood in a tie for fifth place in the team standings with 10 points. Host Georgia stood atop the leader board with 29, followed by Arkansas (14) and Ole Miss (12). In the men's team race, the Vols stand in seventh with seven points. Arkansas has the lead with 36, followed by Florida (29) and Georgia (28) rounding out the top three.
In the women's 10K, Costello became the first Lady Vol to win that race in the history of the meet. The transfer from Princeton ran in second place for almost the entire 25 laps, biding her time on the heels of defending champion Bridget Lyons of Georgia. When the bell rang to signal the final 400 meters, Costello shifted to a gear Lyons couldn't match, running away to a 16-second win in 33 minutes, 42.96 seconds. The mark eclipsed the 33:43.10 meet record of Florida's Beth Farmer, set in 1983, and also toppled the 34:40.39 facility mark, set by Amy Yoder of Arkansas in 1999.
"Liz was super, and she looked very, very good," UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark said. "It was nice to see her come out with a victory here in what is a very important meet and also break a very long-standing meet record. She had a plan and stuck to it, and she looked as good running as I've ever seen her tonight."
Moments earlier, Spooner scored for the third straight season in the SEC men's 10K, and Rainey turned in a point-producing effort in his first career race at that distance. After finishing sixth at this meet the past two years, Spooner moved up two places in 2011, covering the distance in 30:40.05 after running in second place and confidently leading a chase pack of all but one runner for a good portion of the race. Rainey, meanwhile, stayed near the front of that pack and held on for seventh in 30:54.32 as the group splintered apart over the latter stages of the race.
"Last year Spooner was sixth, and this year he improved to fourth," Clark said. "He had a nice, solid effort to place fourth and to become a three-time scorer at this meet is a nice accomplishment. Rainey, as a freshman, coming through and scoring points in the 10K - those are big points this team needed. Every time we get points on the board, that's a plus for our program."
Clark also saw two Lady Vols and a Vol advance to Sunday's finals in the 800-meter run. Junior Chanelle Price and freshman Kianna Ruff qualified on the women's side, while senior Peter Sigilai made the grade in the men's race.
Price got the job done in impressive fashion, easily winning heat one and posting the fastest time of the qualifiers and the eighth-quickest nationally in a season-best 2:04.83. The Lady Vol standout, who won the event at SEC Indoors this season and took second outdoors a year ago behind then-teammate Phoebe Wright, was nearly two seconds faster than anyone else in the field on Friday. Ruff moved along by virtue of her career-best 2:08.83 readout, which was good for second in heat four and seventh out of the advancers.
"I thought Chanelle looked very comfortable out there, and she ran her fastest time of the year in a solo effort," Clark said. "It was nice to see her run well today; now she just has to come back and finish it off in a couple of days.
"As for Kianna, this was the second time she's made it back for a final at the conference meet. It was very good to see her go out there and compete accordingly. She now has to reboot for Sunday, stick her nose in there and get the job done."
In the men's race, Sigilai made the cut despite running his first 800 of the outdoor season and only his second as a Vol. He did so by clocking in third in heat one in 1:50.83 with the No. 8 mark of the prelims. Sigilai was the third-place SEC finisher in the 800 indoors this season.
"Peter ran a good race and forced the pace early to keep it going," Clark said. "He got into the final. We were looking for points, and he has provided us with an opportunity to get points."
In the 200 meters, redshirt freshman Dentarius Locke zoomed to a season-best, but wind-aided, effort of 20.61 to become a perfect three-for-three in SEC sprint qualifying opportunities as a Vol. The SEC Indoor fifth-place finisher in the 200 and sixth-place man in the 60, Locke enters Sunday's outdoor 200 final with the No. 5 time in the field.
"Dentarius looked great," Clark said. "He had a seasonal best of 20.61. We know he's good, and we look forward to him getting in the mix on Sunday."
Tennessee had some drama in the 400m hurdles, where it appeared a Lady Vol and Vol had advanced In the women's prelims, junior Ellen Wortham, who entered the meet ranked second in the league, posted the No. 2 mark of the evening. Her 57.75 trip around the oval produced a first-place finish in heat one for last year's SEC runner-up in this event. She somehow managed that despite having to navigate the second hurdle while it was still set at the men's height.
"Ellen almost had a mishap," Clark said. "They had one of the hurdles at the men's height in her lane only, so she almost fell. She had to do something funky to get over the hurdle, and she wasn't expecting that.
"Fortunately, being a high jumper, long jumper, good sprinter and good athlete, she was able to maneuver herself over the men's height and still run 57.75. Ellen has great poise, and she is very, very good with making adjustments to win, so I am happy how she handled that."
Terry Benson appeared to take care of business in the men's qualifying round, riding a career-best 52.01 performance to second place in heat one and fourth-fastest overall. He later learned he had been disqualified, however, for improperly dragging his trail leg over a hurdle.
"We learned about 10 minutes after the race that Terry had been disqualified," Clark said. "It was very surprising to me, because I did not see that (the infraction) when he was running. We protested, but we were denied."
In the only other prelim event, the women's 200m, the Lady Vols were unable to advance anyone to the finals. Sophomore Martinique Octave's personal-record 23.67 reading earned her second in heat two and the 11th-best mark of the evening.
During the morning session, Tennessee just missed scoring in the women's hammer throw. Junior Laquoya Kelly made a bid for points, entering the finals ranked seventh. Despite improving her best mark from 174-2 in the preliminaries to 175-2 on her final attempt, Kelly slipped to ninth place. Sophomore teammate Jessie Harrison wound up 10th at 167-9.
On Saturday, the Big Orange will have entries in three men's and women's finals and four preliminary events. Among UT's strongest hopefuls for points on day three are No. 1-ranked Annie Alexander in the women's shot put, 2010 sixth-place finisher Michael Spooner in the men's 3000m steeplechase and freshman Justin Hunter and sophomore Desmond Brown in the long jump. Brown was fifth at this meet a year ago, while Hunter was fifth at the 2011 league indoor competition.
Be sure to follow the Vols and Lady Vols on Twitter @Vol_Track and @LadyVol_Track, and find live results or live video links for Saturday at http://www.utsports.com/sports/m-track/sched/tenn-m-track-sched.html.
10,000m Final: 4. Michael Spooner, 30:40.05; 7. Jake Rainey, 30:54.32!; 11. Chris Bodary, 31:47.34
800m Prelims: Adv. Peter Sigilai, 1:50.83p/3rd, ht. 1 (8th); 10. Joe Franklin, 1:51.29p/3rd, ht. 2; 13. Ford Bell, 1:53.09p/4th, ht. 1; 18. Jordan Chaney, 1:54.19p/6th/ht. 2; 22. Breon Dixon, 1:55.47p/5th, ht. 4
200m Prelims: Adv. Dentarius Locke, 20.61pw (w: 2.2)/2nd, ht. 1; 16. Nathan Grace, 21.29pw (w: 2.8)/5th, ht. 1; 26. Jarael Nelvis, 22.77pw (w: 2.2)/6th, ht. 5
400m Hurdles Prelims: NM - Terry Benson, DQ
Hammer Throw Final: NM - Drew Thomas, F
10,000m Final: 1. Liz Costello, 33:42.96mrfr
Hammer Throw Final: 9. Laquoya Kelly, 175-2/53.39m; 10. Jessie Harrison, 167-9/51.15m
800m Prelims: Adv. Chanelle Price, 2:04.83p/1st, ht. 3 (1st); Adv. Kianna Ruff, 2:08.83p!/2nd, ht. 4 (7th); 10. Nijgia Snapp, 2:10.17p!/4th, ht. 4; 13. Brittney Jackson, 2:11.19p/3rd, ht. 1; 14. Ramzee Fondren, 2:11.34p/5th, ht. 4; 18. Ty-Vonna Johnson, 2:12.37p/5th, ht. 2; 19. Elizabeth Altizer, 2:14.64p!/5th, ht. 3; 24. Kim White, 2:17.72p!/6th, ht. 1
400m Hurdles Prelims: Adv. Ellen Wortham, 57.75p/1st, ht. 1 (2nd); 11. Bianca Blair, 1:00.69p/5th, ht. 1; 19. Kirstyn Sweeney, 1:03.87p/6th, ht. 3; 20. Jená Murphy, 1:05.28p/5th, ht. 4
200m Prelims: 11. Martinique Octave, 23.67p! (w: 1.0)/2nd, ht. 2; 20. Brittany Jones, 24.14p (w: 0.5)/4th, ht. 4; 25. Kia Jackson, 24.34p (w: -1.2)/4th, ht. 1; 28. Ashley Harris, 24.58p (w: -1.2), 5th, ht. 1
! - personal record, DNF - did not finish, DQ - disqualified, - 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
Liz Costello talks about winning the SEC 10,000 meters Friday night.