May 17, 2009
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Tennessee's Sarah Bowman posted a record-setting 12th career league title, and Celriece Law and Phoebe Wright pulled off season sweeps in their events Sunday night, helping the 12th-ranked Lady Vols chart a third-place finish at the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships. It was UT's best women's outcome at the conference outdoor meet since taking third in 2005.
To do so, the Big Orange and the rest of their SEC foes again had to battle the elements at Florida's Percy Beard Track. Lightning and heavy rain forced a suspension in action at 5:40 p.m., right after the women's 1500 meters, and the meet was resumed at 7:10 p.m. after a 90-minute delay. It was the third storm stoppage of the four-day meet.
The host Gators, who had amassed 46 points through the first three days, closed out with a strong final day push and won the trophy with 135.50 points. LSU tallied 113 to take second, followed by the Lady Vols with 106. Arkansas was fourth with 96.50, while Auburn rounded out the top five with 76.
"It was a solid performance, but at the SEC Championships, you have to have a great performance," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "We performed well, ran tough and had some good victories and personal bests, but we fell a little short. I'm very proud, though, of the team for performing at a very high level for a long time. This was another good, high-level performance from this team."
Bowman earned her second straight and third overall league 1500m title. In accomplishing that feat, she claimed SEC victory number 12 of her career, tying LaVonna Martin for the most conference wins in school history. She also joined former UT standouts Alisa Harvey and Jasmin Jones as the only three-time female 1500m winners in league annals.
The Big Orange distance ace bided her time for the first 900 meters, contently running behind Georgia's Kristie Krueger and Florida's Charlotte Browning. With 600 to go, though, the UT standout stepped on the gas pedal and the race was over. Bowman cruised home stress-free in a season-best 4:15.03. Classmate Rolanda Bell was seventh in 4:28.18.
"Sarah is just a fantastic athlete and fantastic person," Clark said. "You can't say enough about Sarah. She's come to this meet and performed well and gotten us a lot of points over these last four years, and I'm very happy and thankful for those efforts for UT."
In the 800 meters, Wright made it a clean sweep of the SEC 800m hardware this season. After winning the indoor crown in March, the junior from Chattanooga's Red Bank High School out-dueled LSU's LaTavia Thomas down the home stretch to win in a career-best 2:02.15. Not only did Wright end the Lady Tiger's two-year SEC title run in that event, she posted the fastest time in the NCAA this season and the eighth-best readout in the world in 2009. Wright is UT's first outdoor 800m winner at SECs since Nicole Cook in 2002 and Clark's initial outdoor champion in that event since he came to Knoxville prior to the 2003 season.
Adding third- and fifth-place efforts to the UT cause in the 800 were freshman Chanelle Price in third with a season-best 2:03.30 and Bowman in fifth with a career-best of 2:03.64.
"Phoebe Wright is tough," Clark said. "Phoebe came in this year and has gone to another level. She's worked hard and has executed well and is having a good year. I'm very proud of her."
In the 100m hurdles, Law utilized the hour-and-a-half weather delay to her advantage, spending the time recovering from her efforts in two earlier events. After the hiatus, she bolted down lane four in a career-best time of 13.22 to seize the title. That victory allowed Law to sweep the league's indoor (60mH) and outdoor straight hurdles titles and become Tennessee's first SEC Outdoor hurdles champ since LaVonna Martin in 1988. Olympians Martin (1985-88) and Benita Fitzgerald (1981-83), and Law are the only Lady Vols to win SEC Outdoor hurdles crowns.
Law had previously given Tennessee a huge jumpstart in the second event of the day. Not having triple jumped in competition since taking third at the SEC Indoor meet in March, the senior soared to a career-best and NCAA regional-qualifying 42-2 on her third attempt. Trying to conserve her legs for the 100m hurdles and 4x100m relay later in the day, she passed on all three attempts in the finals and held onto second place and eight huge points. It was her best SEC Outdoor finish, following placings of seventh, sixth and sixth in her first three seasons.
"Celriece really provides some consistency for us," Clark said. "She has shown she can perform at a high level when it counts. I'm not surprised that she's done that, because she has worked very, very hard. I'm very happy to see her get an SEC victory in the hurdles.
"Her freshman year, she was really not the quality of athlete that she is now. Coach Davis-Thompson has done a great job getting her ready."
Floridian Jackie Areson made her return to her home state a productive one, challenging for a victory in the 5000 meters before taking second in 16:32.72 behind Catherine White of Arkansas (16:29.72). Areson surged into first as the bell lap began and held the lead for about 200 meters before White reclaimed the advantage and held on for the win. Senior Katie Van Horn, who led the first half of the race, chipped in two points for a seventh-place result of 16:52.73.
In the first running event of the evening, it was Law, sophomore Brittany Jones, freshman Ashley Harris and Layne giving the Lady Vols a strong push out of the gates in the 4x100m relay. The quartet moved the stick around the oval in a season-best 44.70 to snag third-place honors and six points. It was Tennessee's first top-three 4x1 outing at SECs since 2006.
Senior Alicia Essex came up big in the pole vault, knocking out a career-best third-place finish with a clearance of 13-5 1/4. Essex had finished 10th as a freshman and had no-heighted the past two seasons. She is the first Lady Vol since Jessica Reust at the outdoor meet in 2006 to post a top-three outcome at the SEC Championships.
After finishing second in the discus on Saturday, sophomore Annie Alexander came back on day four to card a third-place finish in the shot put. Her mark of record was 53-5 3/4.
In addition to her anchor leg on the 4x100m relay, Layne contributed points in both the 100 and 200 meters. First, she carded a sixth-place effort with a time of 11.56 in the 100. She came back later to chip in a fifth-place showing in the 200 meters in 23.70.
Freshman Ellen Wortham produced a fifth-place finish of her own. She did so by racing to a career-best time of 59.08 in the 400m hurdles. Senior Amanda Alexander was ninth, matching her PR of 1:01.34. Elsewhere, sophomore Holly Kane just missed scoring in the javelin, taking ninth with a heave of 134-10, while Wortham came in 11th in the high jump at 5-5.
Tennessee's 4x400m relay combo of Price, senior Kimarra McDonald, Wright and Wortham closed out the competition by taking fourth in a season-best 3:38.41.
A recap of the meet will be shown by FOX Sports Net South at 6 p.m. Eastern Time on May 23. For live results from the meet, go to www.utladyvols.com and click on "live results" on the front daily schedule or on the schedule page.
Sarah Bowman, 1500 METERS CHAMP
On winning an SEC title in her final go-round
"It's definitely the way you want to leave it. You want to go home with as many victories as you can. It's our last go-round at the SECs (for the seniors), so to win the 1500 means a lot."
On tying school record for SEC victories
"The SEC meet is a big team meet, and we have a strong team. So, it is just about going out and putting my heart into it. Just to help the team out is amazing. Watching Celriece today, one thing after another, just hitting it strong, was awesome. It made me fired up to run for the team."
Celriece Law, 100-METER HURDLES CHAMP
On how she didn't allow the 90-minute rain delay to affect her performance
"Actually, it (the delay) was something I was hoping for. I had just gotten finished with the 4x100m relay, and getting the extra time gave me a while to not only recover but also to focus on my own event. That worked out well."
On sweeping the SEC titles indoors in the 60m hurdles and outdoors in the 100m hurdles
"It's amazing. It's every senior's dream, and I'm glad that I was able to do that."
Phoebe Wright, 800 METERS CHAMP
On holding off two-time defending SEC champion LaTavia Thomas of LSU
"I was expecting her; she's consistently there. I felt her move at 150, and I responded. At 50, I felt her move again, and I responded, and it was enough to edge her out."
On how this season has gone for her
"This year, individually as well as team-wise, it has been as close to perfection as I could imagine. It's all due to training, hard work and good teammates. Sarah, Chanelle, Kimarra, everybody, we just push each other every step of the way, and it's really paying off in all the races, not just for me but for the whole team."
|FRIDAY, MAY 15|
|EVENT (NCAA DIV. I QUALIFYING MARKS)|
|Hammer Throw Final (Regional: 177-8/54.15m) 5 p.m.|
|6th (3 pts.)||Laquoya Kelly||175-1/53.37m!|
|800m Prelim (Regional: 2:09.80) 6:15 p.m.|
|Adv.||Sarah Bowman||2:03.96p!#/1st, ht. 1 (1st)|
|Adv.||Phoebe Wright||2:05.64p#/1st, ht. 4 (3rd)|
|Adv.||Chanelle Price||2:05.67p#/2nd, ht. 4 (4th)|
|10th||Kimarra McDonald||2:09.19p#/3rd, ht. 3|
|15th||Ramzee Fondren||2:11.72p/4th, ht. 1|
|21st||Charity Honeycutt||2:16.57p!/6th, ht. 4|
|24th||Kim White||2:18.50p!/6th, ht. 2|
|27th||Chelsea Knotts||2:21.35p/7th, ht. 1|
|200m Prelim (Regional: 23.96) 6:50 p.m.|
|Adv.||Lynne Layne||23.37p# (w: 1.2)/1st, ht. 1 (3rd)|
|20th||Ashley Harris||24.92p (w: 0.5)/5th, ht. 3|
|400mH Prelim (Regional: 1:00.82) 7:35 p.m.|
|Adv.||Ellen Wortham||1:00.02p!#/1st, ht. 3 (4th)|
|Adv.||Amanda Alexander||1:01.34p!/3rd, ht. 1 (9th)|
|10000m Final (Auto: 33:30.00; Prov. 35:00.00) 8:30 p.m.|
|10th||Katie Van Horn||37:09.65|
|SATURDAY, MAY 16|
|EVENT (NCAA DIV. I QUALIFYING MARKS)|
|Discus Final (Regional: 155-2/47.30m) 3:30 p.m.|
|2nd (8 pts.)||Annie Alexander||180-5/55.00m#|
|Long Jump Final (Regional: 19-8.25/6.00m) 4:00 p.m.|
|9th||Celriece Law||18-11.75/5.78m (w: 0.0)|
|12th||Lynne Layne||17-11.75/5.48m (w: 0.1)|
|1500m Prelim (Regional: 4:27.80) 6:15 p.m.|
|Adv.||Sarah Bowman||4:23.36p#/1st, ht. 2 (1st)|
|Adv.||Rolanda Bell||4:29.15p/5th, ht. 1 (10th)|
|100mH Prelim (Regional: 13.92) 6:45 p.m.|
|Adv.||Celriece Law||13.29p# (w: -1.3)/1st, ht. 1 (1st)|
|100m Prelim (Regional: 11.75) 7:55 p.m.|
|Adv.||Lynne Layne||11.46p# (w: 1.6)/2nd, ht. 1 (5th)|
|12th||Ashley Harris||12.05p (w: 1.1)/7th, ht. 3|
|SUNDAY, MAY 17|
|EVENT (NCAA DIV. I QUALIFYING MARKS)|
|Javelin Final (Regional: 142-6/43.45m) Noon|
|Triple Jump Final (Regional: 40-5/12.32m) 1:00 p.m.|
|2nd (8 pts.)||Celriece Law||42-2/12.85m!# (w: 1.5)|
|Pole Vault Final (Regional: 12-7.50/3.85m) 3:00 p.m.|
|High Jump Final (Regional: 5-8.75/1.75m) 5:00 p.m.|
|4x100m Relay Final (Regional: 45.70) 5:10 p.m.|
|3rd (6 pts.)||Celriece Law/Brittany Jones||44.70#|
|Ashley Harris/Lynne Layne|
|1500m Final (Regional: 4:27.80) 5:30 p.m.|
|1st (10 pts.)||Sarah Bowman||4:15.03#|
|7th (2 pts.)||Rolanda Bell||4:28.18|
|100mH Final (Regional: 13.92) 5:50 p.m.|
|1st (10 pts.)||Celriece Law||13.22!# (w: 0.4)|
|100m Final (Regional: 11.75) 6:30 p.m.|
|6th (3 pts.)||Lynne Layne||11.56# (w: 0.6)|
|Shot Put Final (Regional: 46-11/14.30m) 6:30 p.m.|
|3rd (6 pts.)||Annie Alexander||53-5.75/16.30m#|
|800m Final (Regional: 2:09.80) 6:50 p.m.|
|1st (10 pts.)||Phoebe Wright||2:02.15!#|
|3rd (6 pts.)||Chanelle Price||2:03.30#|
|5th (4 pts.)||Sarah Bowman||2:03.64!#|
|400mH Final (Regional: 1:00.82) 7:15 p.m.|
|5th (4 pts.)||Ellen Wortham||59.08!#|
|200m Final (Regional: 23.96) 7:35 p.m.|
|5th (4 pts.)||Lynne Layne||23.70# (w: -1.1)|
|5000m Final (Regional: 16:52.00) 8:05 p.m.|
|2nd (8 pts.)||Jackie Areson||16:32.72#|
|7th (2 pts.)||Katie Van Horn||16:52.73|
|4x400m Relay (Regional: 3:42.00) 8:50 p.m.|
|4th (5 pts.)||Chanelle Price/Kimarra McDonald||3:38.41#|
|Phoebe Wright/Brittany Jones|
|* All Times Eastern|
|# - NCAA Regional Qualifier, * - NCAA Automatic Qualifier, + - NCAA Provisional Qualifier, ! - Personal Record (Outdoors), dnf - Did Not Finish, dnq - Did Not Qualify, dnr - Did Not Run, dns - Did Not Start, dq - Disqualified, f - Facility Record, fs - False Start, h - Hand Times, nm - No Mark, p - Prelims, s - School Record (Outdoors).|