May 27, 2005

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Before inclement weather brought day-one activities to a halt, the fifth-ranked University of Tennessee women's track & field team struck for a highly-successful Friday at the NCAA Mideast Regional at Indiana University's Robert C. Haugh Track & Field Complex.

At 8:30 p.m Central Time, NCAA officials stopped the meet because of lightning in the area. One hour and five minutes later, it was announced that the finals of the women's long jump, the men's 200 meters and the women's and men's 5000-meter races would be contested on Saturday. UT Junior Tianna Madison (Elyria, Ohio) was leading the long jump competition with a leap of 21-5/6.52m heading into the finals and will come back at noon to try and close the deal. Classmate Felicia Guliford (Gallup, N.M.), meanwhile, will run the 5K at 11 a.m. "Tianna had another big jump in the long jump," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "She had not been feeling well all week, and I am really proud of what she's done. She was definitely under the weather, but she focused and came through in the long jump. We'll see where she finishes tomorrow."

Before the weather intervened, Tennessee scored three points each in two events and moved seven entries into event finals on day two. Despite a disappointing development regarding senior 800-meter standout Nicole Cook, Head Coach J.J. Clark seemed fairly pleased with the day's outcome. "We had a good night overall, Clark said. "We advanced some people to the final and the 4x1 advanced. LaTonya Loche ran a personal best in the outdoor quarter. In the 100m, Toyin and Cleo will come back tomorrow, as will Patricia Hall in the 400m. "Even in the events where we didn't make the NCAA meet, we did well. Ariel threw a personal best and Jessica had a season-best in the vault. Toine (Antoinette Gorham), a senior, made it to the finals of this meet for the first time in the 800 meters, so it is very exciting, and hopefully they can all get to the NCAA meet."



In the hammer throw final, junior Ariel Brooks (Miami, Fla.) unloaded a school-record heave of 189-6/57.75m, toppling her old UT leader of 189-3/57.69m. The transfer from Barton County (Kan.) Community College just missed out on an automatic trip to the NCAA meet by one place, however, as she finished sixth in the field. She will come back and throw the discus on Saturday.

Classmate Jessica Reust (Knoxville, Tenn.) suffered the same fate as Brooks, coming up short in her bid for a return voyage to NCAAs in the pole vault. The Farragut High School product, who failed to clear a height in her last two meets, found the confidence to sail over three bars in Bloomington. Her 12-11.75/3.96m effort, however, left her standing in sixth place when the vaulting was done. Reust had three solid tries at 13-3.75/4.06m, which would have broken her old UT record, but she brushed the bar off the standards each time.

The 4x100-meter relay unit, ranked third nationally, easily advanced to Saturday's final with a first-place showing of 44.20 in heat two of the prelims. The lineup of freshman LaTonya Loche (Bastrop, La.), freshman Courtney Champion (Lawrenceville, Ga.), senior Toyin Olupona (Orillia, Ontario, Canada) and freshman Cleo Tyson (Huntsville, Texas) charted the fastest qualifying time out of 17 quartets and will battle Southeastern Conference foes LSU (44.33) and Auburn (44.47), among others, for the regional title as well a lane at the NCAA meet.

Loche and junior Patricia Hall (St. Ann, Jamaica) looked sharp in advancing to the 400-meter dash final with the fastest two readouts of the prelims. In only her third appearance of the outdoor campaign in the open quarter, Loche claimed heat one in 53.00. That mark is a second-and-a-half improvement over her prior personal best. Hall, meanwhile, cruised home first in heat three in 53.10.

It was a mixed bag of results in the 100-meter dash prelims, as two Lady Vols earned a ticket to the money race, and two did not. Tyson, who entered the meet with the fastest time in the Mideast, won heat four with ease in a reading of 11.47. Olupona also advanced, taking second in heat one in 11.48. Those marks rank Tyson and Olupona as the second and third-best of the evening's qualifiers.

Champion and Madison weren't quite as fortunate, as their times were not quick enough to move them on. Running in heat five, the Lady Vol sprinters logged times of 11.80 and 12.03, respectively, to finish 12th and 22nd overall.

The 800-meter run also had two tales to tell, as far as the Big Orange contingent was concerned. On the bright side, senior Antoinette Gorham (Glenarden, Md.) earned a spot in the final with a 2:06.73 count. That mark, the second-best in Gorham's career, was good for runner-up honors in heat three, and it ranked as the fifth-best time of the prelims.

On the darker side, though, it became a historical footnote that Cook ran her last 800-meter race as a collegiate performer on May 13 in the SEC prelims in Nashville. The senior from Petersburg, Va., who has struggled the entire outdoor season with an injury to her lower right leg, was not in the blocks when the gun sounded to start heat two of the women's half-mile race Friday night. Her not qualifying for the finals at the regional meet means she cannot run in that event at the NCAA Championships. There is a possibility, however, that she could make the NCAA field as a relay alternate.

During her Tennessee career, Cook is an 11-time All-American, with NCAA Indoor championships in the 800 meters and with the distance medley relay in 2004. She also claimed an SEC Outdoor 800m title in 2002 and league indoor crowns in 2004 and 2005, setting a collegiate and Lady Vol record of 2:00.75 at this year's meet. Her efforts helped the Lady Vol program develop into a team that won conference and national championships during the 2005 indoor campaign. "Nicole has had a fantastic career as a Lady Vol," Clark said. "She will not run any more 800s for the Lady Vols, but her future is very bright, and she is still available for relay duties at nationals, hopefully. She is a great person and done a tremendous amount for our program."

In what wound up being the final event of the night, Tyson secured a lane in the 200-meter dash finals. The rookie rolled to the top time in the prelims, a 23.25 result that easily won heat two. Champion, however, did not advance, taking fourth in heat three in 23.96.

Action is slated to conclude around 8:30 p.m. CT (9:30 p.m. ET) on Saturday.

Pole Vault Fin. (Regional: 12-5.50/3.80m) 3 p.m.
6th (3 pts.)Jessica Reust12-11.75/3.96m
Hammer Throw Fin. (Regional: 177-8/54.15m) 3:05 p.m.
6th (3 pts.)Ariel Brooks189-6/57.75!+
4x100m Relay Pre. (Regional: 45.80) 4 p.m.
Adv.LaTonya Loche/Courtney Champion
Toyin Olupona/Cleo Tyson
1500m Pre. (Regional: 4:27.80) 4:30 p.m.
Adv.Brooke Novak No Prelim Held/All EntriesAdvance
400m Pre. (Regional: 54.61) 5:30 p.m.
Adv.LaTonya Loche53.00p!/1st, ht. 1
Adv.Patricia Hall53.10p/1st, ht. 3
100m Pre. (Regional: 11.75) 6 p.m.
Adv.Cleo Tyson11.47p/1st, ht. 4 (w: -0.5)
Adv.Toyin Olupona11.48p/2nd, ht. 1 (w: -1.6)
12thCourtney Champion11.80/2nd, ht. 5 (w: -1.6)
22ndTianna Madison12.03/4th, ht. 5 (w: -1.6)
Long Jump Fin. (Regional: 19-6.25/5.95m) 6:10 p.m.
Tianna Madison Suspended Until Saturday
800m Pre. (Regional: 2:09.80) 6:30 p.m.
Adv.Antoinette Gorham2:06.73p/2nd, ht. 3
Nicole CookDid Not Start
400mH Pre. (Regional: 60.82) 7 p.m.
No Lady Vols Entered
200m Pre. (Regional: 23.96) 7:30 p.m.
Adv.Cleo Tyson23.25p/1st, ht. 2 (w: N/A)
N/ACourtney Champion23.96p/4th, ht. 4 (w: N/A)
5000m Fin. (Regional: 16:52.00)) 11 a.m.
Felicia Guliford
Discus Throw Fin. (Regional: 155-2/47.30m) Noon
Shanna Dickenson
Ariel Brooks
High Jump Fin. (Regional: 5-8.75/1.75m) 12:05 p.m.
No Lady Vols Entered
Javelin Throw Fin. (Regional: 141-7/43.15m) 3:10 p.m.
No Lady Vols Entered
4x100m Relay Fin. (Regional: 45.80) 5 p.m.
Lady Vol Lineup TBA
1500m Fin. (Regional: 4:27.80) 5:15 p.m.
Brooke Novak
100mH Fin. (Regional: 13.95) 5:30 p.m.
No Lady Vols Entered
400m Fin. (Regional: 54.61) 5:45 p.m.
LaTonya Loche
Patricia Hall
100m Fin. (Regional: 11.75) 6 p.m.
Cleo Tyson
Toyin Olupona
Shot Put Fin. (Regional: 46-11/14.30m) 6 p.m.
April Thomas
Triple Jump Fin. (Regional: 40-2.75/12.26m) 6:10 p.m.
No Lady Vols Entered
800m Fin. (Regional: 2:09.80) 6:15 p.m.
Antoinette Gorham
400mH Fin. (Regional: 60.82) 6:30 p.m.
No Lady Vols Entered
200m Fin. (Regional: 23.96) 6:45 p.m.
Cleo Tyson
3000mSC Fin. (Regional: 10:52.10) 7 p.m.
Elizabeth McCalley
4x400mR Fin. (Regional: 3:42.00) 8 p.m.
Lady Vol Lineup TBA (CC/AG/PH/LL/TM/TO)


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