June 8, 2011
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Annie Alexander delivered Tennessee six big points Wednesday, and Chanelle Price provided the Big Orange with another potential scorer on the first day of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Drake Stadium.
A junior from Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, Alexander avoided disappointment with a clutch toss of 178 feet, one inch on her third attempt of the preliminary round to advance to her first NCAA final in the discus throw. Wasting no time, she unleashed an effort of 188-9 on her first try in the final that stood up for third-place honors. She finished behind Trecey Rew of Northwestern State (192-4) and Anna Jelmini of Arizona State (190-2).
Alexander, who had failed to advance out of the prelims in 2008 (23rd) and 2009 (13th) before redshirting last season due to surgery on both legs, became the fifth UT woman to card a top-three discus finish at a national meet. Shanna Dickenson was the most recent to accomplish that feat, finishing third in 2007.
"We're trying to get points on the board, and Annie was projected to do that and came through with big throws," UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark said. "I'm very proud of her and the year she has had. She has one more opportunity before we're done here, and we're looking forward to seeing what she can do."
Price, meanwhile, moved on by winning heat two and reeling off the fastest readout of the semifinal round in a season-best 2:02.84. The junior looked strong in leading wire to wire, posting her fastest outdoor mark since running 2:01.33 as a freshman at UT in 2009. She will compete in the finals at 8:10 p.m. Eastern on Friday.
"She looked very good and executed in excellent fashion," Clark said. "She's feeling very confident in her abilities and what she can do, and now it's just a matter of going out there and executing again and staying confident."
Tennessee had three other races that didn't go its way on Wednesday. Ellen Wortham's misfortune was the biggest of the trio, as the number-one-ranked women's 400m hurdler in the nation missed out on the finals after finishing fourth in heat three in 56.43. The effort, which was the second-best time of her career, left her seventh overall in the semifinal round, but only the top two finishers in each heat and the next two fastest times from the three heats advanced.
"It was one of the best times she has run, but it just wasn't her best race," Clark said. "I am very proud of her efforts throughout the season, and she will rebound as champions do. She's in the mile relay (4x400m relay) Thursday, so she'll come back and do what she needs to do to help us advance in that event."
Vol redshirt freshman Dentarius Locke was in action in the semifinals of the 100-meter dash, and his season in that event came to an end. His readout of 10.39 left him sixth in heat three and 13th-fastest overall.
"He just didn't have the best start today," Clark said. "It's part of track & field that sometimes things don't fall in line. He definitely closed like a bandit, and fortunately we still have the 200. I am sure he will be ready for that Thursday."
The Lady Vol 4x100m relay unit also was in action, but that group failed to advance. The quartet of Ashley Harris, Brittany Jones, Martinique Octave and Kia Jackson wound up seventh in heat one and 20th overall in 44.78.
Tennessee will have three events on Thursday. Locke will compete in the semifinal round of the 200 meters at 6:45 p.m. ET, while Brittany Sheffey will take part in the women's 1500m semis (7 p.m. ET) and the Lady Vols will send Wortham, Kianna Ruff, Martinique Octave and Nijgia Snapp into battle in the 4x400m relay semis (9 p.m. ET).
100m Semifinals: 13. Dentarius Locke, 10.39p/6th, ht. 3 (w: -1.1)
Discus Throw Finals: 3. Annie Alexander, 188-9/57.55m
800m Semifinals: Adv. Chanelle Price, 2:02.84p/1st, ht. 2 (fastest qualifier)
400m Hurdles Semifinals: 7. Ellen Wortham, 56.43p/4th, ht. 3
4x100m Relay Semifinals: 20. Ashley Harris / Brittany Jones / Martinique Octave / Kia Jackson, 44.78p/7th, ht. 1
! - personal record, DNF - did not finish, DQ - disqualified, - 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, T&T - Trinidad & Tobago National Record, w - wind-aided