May 30, 2009
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Phoebe Wright and Annie Alexander won their events with facility records in the 800 meters and shot put, respectively, on Saturday to pace the Tennessee women to a second-place finish in the NCAA Mideast Regional at the Cardinal Park Track & Field Complex.
Those triumphs fueled the seventh-ranked Lady Vols to a total of 69 points, which gave the program its second consecutive and third overall runner-up team finish at the meet. No. 3 LSU scored 85.50 points to take its fourth straight regional crown, followed by UT, No. 10 Michigan (48), Illinois (43) and No. 17 Auburn (35.50) rounding out the top five.
"Our team ended up second in the standings to LSU," Clark said. "They just have more depth and got the job done, but we were definitely in the hunt up until the last couple of events. I'm very proud of my team.
"Most importantly, we want to get back home and get ready for the national championship meet. That's my focal point."
Wright, who won the SEC title two weekends ago in two minutes, 2.15 seconds, claimed her second major individual outdoor championship Saturday in 2:02.20 to punch her ticket to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., on June 10-13. The junior from Signal Mountain, Tenn., ran just behind a trio of leaders, including rookie teammate Chanelle Price, for the first 400 meters. When Michigan's Geena Gall, the defending champion, made her move with 400 to go, Wright moved with her.
With 250 meters remaining, Wright hit the accelerator and ran side-by-side with the UM standout before out-kicking her over the final 110 meters en route to joining Kameisha Bennett (2004) as UT women who've won regional 800m crowns. In the process, Wright toppled the 2:07.61 track standard of Marquette's Jennifer Batie, set in 2002. Price, meanwhile, finished sixth in 2:05.25 but appears to be in good shape for an at-large bid because of her previous 2:03.30 output that ranks 11th nationally.
"Phoebe ran great today, and she was very competitive," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "Geena Gall was the NCAA champ last year, and Phoebe held her off today and got the job done. I'm very proud of her."
After finishing second in the discus on Friday, Alexander bounced back on day two to snare a regional championship in the shot put and earn her second NCAA qualifier. On her second throw of the competition, the sophomore unleashed a heave of 55 feet even to move into the lead and break the 54-1 facility mark of Louisville's Jere' Summers. On toss number three, Alexander stretched the tape measure to 55-9, a mark that rewrote the record book once again and stood up for first-place honors.
The win in the shot was Alexander's third of the season and fifth of her career. It marked her second regional triumph as well, although her first Mideast title came a year ago as a freshman in the discus while finishing third in the shot.
"Annie also got a win for us," Clark said. "She had a couple of big throws and clinched her second berth in the NCAA meet. It was good to see her make that happen"
Tennessee added runner-up performances in three events, including the 100m hurdles, 4x100m relay and 1500m, as well as top-five outings in the 100m and 200m dashes. All told, seven Lady Vols automatically qualified for the NCAA meet in seven different events. Two others, Price and Friday's sixth-place 5K finisher, Jackie Areson, will await Tuesday's announcement of at-large qualifiers by the NCAA.
In the 100 hurdles, senior Celriece Law delivered a career-best performance to earn her finest finish at the regional meet in her final appearance. Her outburst of 13.14, which moved her to No. 8 in the nation this season, earned her a trip to the NCAA meet and a runner-up showing for the day. In topping her previous personal record of 13.23 from this year's Sea Ray Relays, Law erased the memory of last year's Mideast meet, when she failed to make the final. She had posted finishes of fifth in 2006 and seventh in 2007.
In the 4x100m relay, the UT quartet of Law, freshman Ashley Harris, freshman Ellen Wortham and junior Lynne Layne rolled around the oval in a season-best 44.25 to grab second-place honors for the third consecutive year at the regional meet. The effort, which eclipsed the squad's previous-best 2009 mark of 44.70, made the Big Orange quartet the seventh-fastest in the NCAA this season.
Senior Sarah Bowman qualified for the NCAA meet and charted her second straight second-place regional finish in the 1500m. It was not the outcome she or anyone had anticipated. After running away from the field and winning her prelim race by 10 seconds a day earlier, Bowman suffered her first defeat of the season in her signature race. Her 4:22.68 readout left her just behind former Lady Vol teammate Heidi Dahl of East Tennessee State, who pulled off the upset in 4:22.16 by out-kicking the UT standout over the final 300 meters and holding off a last-chance burst by Bowman down the home stretch. Senior Rolanda Bell wound up 12th in 4:42.44.
"Sarah did a great job," Clark said. "She's been running very well, but she did have a loss here. She lost at this meet last year, too.
"I don't know how teams are peaking and cycling, but we'll be OK. If you could win all your races all the time, then I guess the sport wouldn't be any fun. The key is that she advanced to the NCAA meet."
Layne produced a third-place finish in the 100 meters and a fourth-place result in the 200. In the straight sprint, the junior rolled down the track in 11.44 to earn her third NCAA berth in that event. She did so with her fastest wind-legal reading since posting an 11.38 mark in the 2008 SEC final. In the half-lapper, Layne came back later in the day to log a season-best clocking of 23.33 and advance to national in that event for the third time.
"The whole objective of this meet is to get to the NCAA Championships, one way or the other, automatically or descending order list," Clark said. "We accomplished that by getting everyone through that we pretty much expected.
"We had Lynne Layne doubling, Celriece run her fastest time in the hurdles and both of them helping our 4x1 run its fastest time of the year. They did an absolutely great job, and we are very excited about that."
Tennessee closed out the meet by finishing ninth in the 4x400m relay. The quartet of Price, Wortham, Wright and senior Kimarra McDonald covered the distance in a two-second season-best of 3:36.48.
|FRIDAY, MAY 29|
|EVENT (NCAA DIV. I QUALIFYING MARKS)|
|Pole Vault Final (Regional: 12-7.50/3.85m) 1:00 p.m.|
|4x100m Relay Prelim (Regional: 45.70) 1:30 p.m.|
|Adv.||Celriece Law/Ashley Harris||45.05p (3rd)|
|Ellen Wortham/Lynne Layne|
|1500m Prelim (Regional: 4:27.80) 2:00 p.m.|
|Adv.||Sarah Bowman||4:13.59p/1st, ht. 1 (1st)|
|Adv.||Rolanda Bell||4:33.80p/6th, ht. 1 (11th)|
|100mH Prelim (Regional: 13.92) 2:40 p.m.|
|Adv.||Celriece Law||13.44p (w: 1.8)/1st, ht. 4 (t3rd)|
|100m Prelim (Regional: 11.75) 3:20 p.m.|
|Adv.||Lynne Layne||11.60p (w: 1.7)/1st, ht. 3 (7th)|
|800m Prelim (Regional: 2:09.80) 4:40 p.m.|
|Adv.||Phoebe Wright||2:04.16p/1st, ht. 2 (2nd)|
|Adv.||Chanelle Price||2:05.35p/2nd, ht. 1 (5th)|
|16th||Kimarra McDonald||2:10.89p/5th, ht. 1|
|400mH Prelim (Regional: 1:00.82) 5:20 p.m.|
|14th||Ellen Wortham||1:00.14p/2nd, ht. 1|
|Discus Final (Regional: 155-2/47.30m) 5:30 p.m.|
|2nd (8 pts.)||Annie Alexander||185-8/56.59m|
|200m Prelim (Regional: 23.96) 6:00 p.m.|
|Adv.||Lynne Layne||23.67p (w: 0.8)/1st, ht. 3 (4th)|
|5000m Final (Regional: 16:52.00) 6:40 p.m.|
|6th (3 pts.)||Jackie Areson||16:35.64|
|18th||Katie Van Horn||17:53.11|
|SATURDAY, MAY 30|
|EVENT (NCAA DIV. I QUALIFYING MARKS)|
|Shot Put Final (Regional: 46-11/14.30m) 2:30 p.m.|
|1st (10 pts.)||Annie Alexander||55-9/16.99mf|
|4x100m Relay Final (Regional: 45.70) 4:00 p.m.|
|2nd (8 pts.)||Celriece Law/Ashley Harris/Ellen Wortham/Lynne Layne||44.25|
|1500m Final (Regional: 4:27.80) 4:20 p.m.|
|2nd (8 pts.)||Sarah Bowman||4:22.68|
|100mH Final (Regional: 13.92) 4:45 p.m.|
|2nd (8 pts.)||Celriece Law||13.14! (w: 0.6)|
|100m Final (Regional: 11.75) 5:05 p.m.|
|3rd (6 pts.)||Lynne Layne||11.44 (w: 1.7)|
|800m Final (Regional: 2:09.80) 5:25 p.m.|
|1st (10 pts.)||Phoebe Wright||2:02.20mrf|
|6th (3 pts.)||Chanelle Price||2:05.25|
|200m Final (Regional: 23.96) 6:00 p.m.|
|4th (5 pts.)||Lynne Layne||23.33 (w: 1.2)|
|4x400m Relay Final (Regional: 3:42.00) 7:05 p.m.|
|9th||Chanelle Price/Ellen Wortham/Phoebe Wright/Kimarra McDonald||3:36.48|
|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).|