May 25, 2012
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Tennessee track & field program produced qualifiers for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in four different events Friday and advanced another runner to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA East Preliminary Round at the University of North Florida's Hodges Stadium.
Punching their tickets to the NCAA meet in Des Moines, Iowa, June 6-9, were senior Annie Alexander (women's discus throw), sophomore Linda Hadfield (women's pole vault), senior Chanelle Price (women's 800m) and senior Ellen Wortham (women's 400m hurdles). Senior Brittany Jones, meanwhile, advanced to the quarters of the 200m dash, boosting UT's total of events on Saturday's final day to eight.
"Overall, it was a good day," UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark said. "We had our key qualifiers advance, and both Ellen and Chanelle once again had the fastest times of the day. Annie got things done in two events for the fourth-straight year, and it was very exciting to have a first-time qualifier in Linda Hadfield make the field along with the rest of the veterans.
"With Brittany Jones advancing back to tomorrow, we have eight qualifying opportunities on the final day. Hopefully we can continue with that progress and have another positive day on Saturday."
Alexander made the NCAA meet in her second event in as many days. After qualifying nationally in the shot put for the fourth time on Thursday with the fourth-best mark, she earned her fourth-straight NCAA ticket in the discus throw on Friday. Her toss of 178 feet, three inches on her very first attempt proved to be enough. It was so secure, in fact, that Alexander didn't need to utilize any of her final three throws of the competition.
"It's an amazing feeling coming out here this weekend and accomplishing my goals of making it to the next round," Alexander said. "I'm happy to get it done and move on to the next level."
Alexander overcame a leg injury suffered earlier in the week to advance to Des Moines.
"It was very painful in the shot put, but it's all about one throw," she said. "I really want to finish my senior year in a strong way, so it's mind over matter and just keep pushing through."
In the women's 800 meters, Price looked strong again in leading from start to finish for the second day in a row. This time, she won in a time of 2:02.64 that broke the stadium record and stacked up as the fastest time she's run since posting a personal record of 2:01.33 in July 2009. She will make her third NCAA Outdoor appearance in the 800, with a redshirt year in 2010 standing as the only season she wasn't present.
"It felt good today," Clark said of her effort. "I'm working on leading, but staying smooth and also really working on my finish. My finish hasn't been that great since high school, so Coach Clark is really working on it. I feel like today was probably my best race ever, because I was (running out front) by myself. I just listened to coach."
Wortham made the NCAA travel party in the women's 400m hurdles for the third time in as many years. After setting a stadium record of 55.66 on Thursday, the school record-holder wasn't far off that clip on day two. Her 55.70 clocking enabled her to win heat three and once again post the top time of the day.
"Yesterday, I had a difficult lane, somewhat, in lane two, and still was able to go out and hit a really good time," Wortham said. "Today, the goal was to get a pretty nice time just to set me up for a good lane at nationals. I came out here and was able to do that, so I am happy with my performance this weekend."
In the women's vault, Hadfield earned the first NCAA Championship appearance of her career. Three misses at 13-5 1/4 (4.10m) left her season hanging in the balance. Since only two vaulters behind her in the jumping order cleared that height, it turned out that her first-attempt clearance at the previous height, 13-3 1/2, left her alone in 12th place with the final advancing position.
"It was a huge load off my back," Hadfield said about learning she had held on for the final spot. "The official told me I was in 10th with five vaulters remaining, and then the Duke vaulter made it... It was never-racking. I am just really excited I made it, and hopefully I'll be cleaner at nationals and not have so many misses."
In the women's 200 meters, Brittany Jones moved along to the quarterfinals on Saturday. Jones impressively bolted to first-place honors in heat three and wound up with the ninth-best mark of the first round. Tennessee entries competed in a pair of quarterfinal races but were unable to advance. Senior Kia Jackson was the closest to the qualifying threshold, finishing with the 16th-best time in the 100m dash at 11.56. The top 12 advanced to Des Moines. Competing in the women's discus throw first round, Aslynn Halvorson's 17th-place toss of 155-5 was five spots off the cut.
UT's men had three entries on Friday and none advanced. Senior Terry Benson saw his season come to an end in the quarterfinals of the 400m hurdles. His mark of 52.54 left him seventh in heat one and 19th overall. Benson matched his career best in the 110m hurdles, but his 14.10 effort did not allow him to move on. Freshman Jamol James also bowed out individually, taking seventh in heat six of the 200m first round in 21.34.
James will return on Saturday to run on the Vols' 4x100m relay unit. The Tennessee men also have Matthew Hoty in action in the shot put and both Chase Brannon and Robert Rasnick competing in the pole vault.
In addition to Jones in the 200 meters, other Saturday quarterfinal entries for the Lady Vols include both the 4x100m and 4x400m relays and senior Brittany Sheffey in the 1500 meters. Senior Laquoya Kelly also is slated to throw the hammer.
800m Quarterfinal: NCAA Qual. - Chanelle Price, 2:02.64pfr/1st, ht. 2 (1st); DNA - Nijgia Snapp, 2:13.64p/9th, ht. 3 (27th)
400m Hurdles Quarterfinal: NCAA Qual. - Ellen Wortham, 55.70p/1st, ht. 3 (1st)
Discus Throw First Round: NCAA Qual. - Annie Alexander, 178-3/54.35m (3rd); DNA - Aslynn Halvorson, 155-5/47.37m (17th); DNA - Jessie Harrison, 131-6/40.08m (42nd)
Pole Vault First Round: NCAA Qual. - Linda Hadfield, 13-3.50/4.05mp (12th)
200m First Round: Adv. Brittany Jones, 23.28p (w: 0.1)/1st, ht. 3 (9th)
100m Quarterfinal: DNA - Kia Jackson, 11.56p (w: 1.5)/7th, ht. 1 (16th); DNA - Brittany Jones, 11.62p (w: -0.6)/6th, ht. 2 (22nd)
100m Hurdles First Round: DNF - Bianca Blair
Shot Put First Round: NCAA Qual. Annie Alexander, 54-8/16.66mp (4th)
400m Hurdles First Round: Adv. Ellen Wortham, 55.66p/1st, ht. 4 (1st)
800m First Round: Adv. Chanelle Price, 2:04.32p/1st, ht. 3 (1st); Adv. Nijgia Snapp, 2:07.57p/3rd, ht. 2 (20th); DNA - Kianna Ruff, 2:09.29p/7th, ht. 6 (35th)
1500m First Round: Adv. Brittany Sheffey, 4:24.23p/3rd, ht. 4 (15th)
100m First Round: Adv. Kia Jackson, 11.69p (w: 1.4)/3rd, ht. 6 (18th); Adv. Brittany Jackson, 11.75p (w: -1.5)/5th, ht. 1 (23rd)
Long Jump First Round: 41. Ellen Wortham, 18-5/5.61m (w: 0.1)
400m Hurdles Quarterfinal: DNA - Terry Benson, 52.54p/7th, ht. 1 (19th)
110m Hurdles First Round: DNA - Terry Benson, 14.10p! (w: 2.0)/5th, ht. 2 (32nd)
200m First Round: DNA - Jamol James, 21.34p (w: 0.8)/7th, ht. 6 (36th)
400m Hurdles First Round: Adv. Terry Benson, 51.96p/4th, ht. 4 (20th)
Discus Throw First Round: 17. Tavis Bailey, 172-7/52.62mp; 38. Matthew Hoty, 159-7/48.65mp
Long Jump First Round: 28. Tyler Anderson, 23-5.50/7.15mp (w: 0.5); 41. Desmond Brown, 22-3/6.78mp (w: -0.9)
100m First Round: DNA - Jamol James, 10.67p (w: -1.5)/6th, ht. 1 (33rd)
! - personal record, Adv. - Advanced to next round, DNA - did not advance, DNF - did not finish, DNS - did not start, DQ - disqualified, F- 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, utfr - UT freshman record, w - wind-aided