May 30, 2003
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Sharon Dickie took second in the 5000 meters and Christie Elwin broke her own school record in the pole vault to give the University of Tennessee 12 points on the first day of the NCAA Mideast Regional Track & Field Championships. More importantly, the Lady Vol seniors assured themselves of their first trip to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, which are scheduled for June 11-14 in Sacramento, Calif.
Sophomores Dee Dee Trotter and NICOLE COOK put themselves in position for a trip out west as well, advancing to the finals in the 400 and 800 meters, respectively. They could also add to UT's point total, which left Lady Vol Head Coach J.J. Clark's squad in a tie for sixth place after day one. Michigan leads with 23, followed by Notre Dame at 18, Missouri and Indiana at 16 and Eastern Michigan at 13.5. UT is tied with Arkansas and Louisiana Tech.
In the 5000, it was American junior record holder Molly Huddle of Notre Dame running away from the pack and winning in a Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium record time of 16:12.81. But Dickie, the fifth-year senior, took ownership of second place for the entire race and never relinquished it. The SEC 5K champ from Grand Blanc, Mich., crossed the line in 16:32.22 to earn her first trip ever to the outdoor national meet. An eighth-place finisher at the 2001 NCAA Indoor Championships, Dickie will attempt to become the only Lady Vol to earn All-America accolades at each meet.
"This is my first year of coaching Sharon, but I know what she's been through in dealing with injuries and several coaching changes during her career," Clark said. "It is really a joy to watch her put it all together and a good feeling to see her look so spry and alive this time of the season."
Elwin also came up big on a cool and breezy night on The Ohio State University campus. The Adelaide, Australia, native twice broke her own school record of 12 feet, 10 inches, which she set on May 3 at the Gatorade Classic in Knoxville. After clearing bars at 12-0 1/2 and 12-6 1/4, Elwin soared over 12-10 1/4 on her third try to barely topple her previous mark and keep her NCAA hopes alive.
She then took aim at the next height, 13-2 1/4, which just happens to mirror her indoor UT record. After running through the box on her first attempt and before the next vaulter took flight, a malfunction occured with the pole vault standards. The problem with the metal poles that hold the bar in place resulted in a delay of about 45 minutes until a different standard could be obtained. It would have been very easy for Elwin to lose focus or fall out of synch after such a delay. The senior didn't let that happen.
After consulting with vault coach David Job, Elwin hit the runway with renewed energy and complete focus for the task at hand. The end result was a joyous clearance, a career best, a new school record and the awareness that she was one of only five vaulters moving on to the next height. That meant a ticket to Sacramento, whether she traversed the next bar at 13-6 1/4 or not. As it turned out, she was not able to raise the UT mark even higher, but she was elated nonetheless.
In the 400m prelims, Trotter picked up where she left off after grabbing the Southeastern Conference title two weekends ago. She easily won heat three in 52.75 and takes the fastest qualifying mark into Saturday's 6:50 p.m. final. Trotter's clocking topped that of heat one winner Hazel-Ann Regis of LSU, whom the Tennessee standout edged for the league title on May 18.
Trotter, who entered the meet with the No. 2 400m time by a U.S. woman in 2003, ran a disciplined race and was able to chart the day's best reading despite not being challenged. Hannah Stuckenschneider of Southeast Missouri State was her closest competition, finishing second in 54.48. Cook also moved on to the championship round, checking in at 2:03.72 to place second in heat one and record the day's third-best performance in the 800 meters. The sophomore from Petersburg, Va., took second to Butler's Becky Lyne (2:02.66) in the opening heat with a time that was just off her 2:03.60 personal-best pace at the SEC meet. Mississippi State's Tiffany McWilliams posted the only other time faster than Cook's, finishing in 2:02.92.
Cook will run at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday, and the field should look quite familiar, as SEC foes McWilliams, Neisha Bernard-Thomas of LSU and Beth Heimann of Kentucky will line up next to her. The second-year Lady Vol standout will aim for her fourth NCAA appearance (indoors and outdoors) in as many opportunities as a collegian.
"It was a good day for us," Clark said. "We had seniors in the 5000 meters and pole vault earn trips to the national meet, and both Dee Dee Trotter and NICOLE COOK ran well in the trials. Nicole was a tenth of a second off her PR even though she ran into a pretty strong wind today. I was also very impressed with Dee Dee, and continue to be proud of what she's done with an event that is still a new area for her."
Redshirt freshman Brooke Novak opened the day in the 1500m run prelims, but unfortunately for the Kaukauna, Wis., native, her 4:30.44 clocking was not fast enough to advance to the finals. Novak finished sixth in heat two and was 14th in the field of 22 competitors. McWilliams, the SEC champ, posted the best qualifying time, breaking the track record with a reading of 4:14.66.
Also competing on Friday but not earning NCAA Championship bids were freshman Felicia Guliford (Gallup, N.M.), who was 18th in the 5000 meters in 17:27.12; and junior JANINE TESSARZIK (Altamont, N.Y.), who was 31st in the shot put at 43-7 3/4.
On Saturday, Tessarzik kicks things off with her second event of the meet. The SEC's third-place finisher at 167-3, Tessarzik will throw the discus at 5:30 p.m. The 4x400m relay will wrap up the meet at 9 p.m. UT's 4x4 enters as the second seed behind LSU with a top time of 3:36.76, but Clark has not finalized his quartet. The relay pool includes Cook, Trotter, sophomore Antoinette Gorham (Glenarden, Md.) and either sophomore Toyin Olupona or freshman Caitlin Ward (Gibsonia, Pa.).
FRIDAY, MAY 30
EVENT (NCAA REGIONAL QUAL. MARK) TIME 1500m Prelims (4:31) 4:30 p.m. DNQ Brooke Novak 4:30.44p/6th, ht. 2/14th overall
Shot Put Finals (45-7.25/13.90m) 5:30 p.m. 31st JANINE TESSARZIK 43-7.75/13.30m
Pole Vault Finals (12-0/3.66m) 5:30 p.m. 5th Christie Elwin 13-2.25!sr* (4 pts.)
400m Prelims (55.00) 6:00 p.m. Adv. Dee Dee Trotter 52.75p/1st ,ht. 3
800m Prelims (2:10.30) 7:00 p.m. Adv. NICOLE COOK 2:03.72p/2nd, ht. 1
SATURDAY, MAY 31
EVENT (NCAA REGIONAL QUAL. MARK) TIME Discus Finals (150-0/45.72m) 5:30 p.m. JANINE TESSARZIK
400m Finals (55.00) 6:50 p.m. Dee Dee Trotter
800m Finals (2:10.30) 7:15 p.m. NICOLE COOK
4x400m Relay Finals (3:45.50) 9:00 p.m. Lineup TBA