June 8, 2005
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Junior Felicia Guliford capped a perfect first day for the University of Tennessee women at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, as she advanced to the finals in the 5000 meters late Wednesday night and made the Lady Vols an impressive 10-for-10 in qualifying opportunities at California State University, Sacramento's Hornet Stadium.
Guliford closed an unusually chilly and rain-soaked day one by finishing seventh in heat two of the 5K with a time of 16:26.48. Her readout, the third-fastest of her career, gave her passage to Saturday's 8:10 p.m. Pacific Time (11:10 p.m. ET) final. It also enabled Head Coach J.J. Clark's squad to stay in contention for considerable scoring later in the meet.
"Everyone advanced, and the idea is to advance people round by round and get to the finals," Clark said. "Overall, for the Lady Vols, it was a solid day, and tomorrow we have to come back and duplicate what we did today. Everyone advanced, and that's what we are here to do -- advance to the finals and score points."
NCAA leader Tianna Madison wasted very little time in advancing to the finals of the long jump, as the sophomore from Elyria, Ohio, sliced through the damp air for a first-attempt leap of 22 feet, one-quarter inch. The Lady Vol record holder and number-two ranked jumper in the world put away her spikes for the night after that gem, as she met the automatic qualifying mark for Thursday's 9 p.m. Pacific Time (Midnight ET) final and was able to pass on her final two tries. Her measurement stood as the best in the field by more than a foot and was further than any of the other competitors' top efforts all season long.
Tennessee began the day by advancing its 4x100-meter relay team to the finals, as the Lady Vol quartet of Madison, freshman Courtney Champion (Lawrenceville, Ga.), senior Toyin Olupona (Orillia, Ontario, Canada) and freshman Cleo Tyson (Huntsville, Texas) circled the track in 43.75 to win heat two. That mark stood as the second best of the qualifying round, behind the 43.60 of Texas, and was the fastest prelim time UT's 4x1 has recorded in 2005. The Big Orange will run in the money race on Friday at 6:40 p.m. Pacific Time (9:40 p.m. ET).
Tyson and Olupona came back later in the evening to finish one-two in heat one of the 100-meter dash prelims in times of 11.33 and 11.44, respectively, to earn lanes in the semifinals with the fastest and third-best readings of round one. They then proceeded to cross the finish line in the same order in heat one of the semis with identical results of 11.42 and earn lanes in Friday's final at 8:30 p.m. PT (11:30 p.m. ET). They tied for the third-best clockings behind Marshevet Hooker of Texas and Tremedia Brice of Texas Southern, who had matching 11.33 showings.
Junior Patricia Hall (St. Ann, Jamaica) and freshman LaTonya Loche (Bastrop, La.) both extended their action at the NCAA meet in the first round of the 400-meter dash. Hall, running in heat five, was an automatic qualifier (top two each heat) in heat five by taking second in 53.48. Loche also passed her first NCAA Outdoor test, earning one of six at-large berths in Friday's 7:40 p.m. PT (10:40 p.m. ET) semifinal with a third-place reading of 53.13.
Senior Antoinette Gorham also moved on in her first career NCAA individual race, albeit just barely, as she grabbed the 16th and final spot in the 800m semifinals with a 2:06.26 clocking in the prelims to take fifth in heat one.
It appeared the Glenarden, Md., native's hopes of advancing had vanished when she found herself boxed in with 200 meters to go. Gorham, however, appeared to grab a lower gear and move to the outside to escape the traffic jam and kicked hard down the homestretch to cross the line with the second-best readout of her career. Fortunately for the UT competitor, only the top three automatic qualifiers from heat four made the cut, leaving her the final at-large slot in Thursday's 6:45 p.m. PT (9:45 p.m. ET) semis.