June 9, 2010
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
EUGENE, Ore. -- It was a mixed bag for the University of Tennessee women's team Wednesday on a soggy, foggy first day at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Though a pair of Lady Vols fell short in advancing to the finals in their respective events, sensational senior Phoebe Wright continued her amazing journey at historic Hayward Field.
In the 800m, Wright advanced easily through the semifinal round and put herself into position for a possible NCAA season sweep in that event on Friday. The middle distance ace out of Signal Mountain, Tenn., darted to the front of the pack from the get-go and took the brunt of a cold downpour and stout wind. The elements did nothing to thwart the eight-time All-American, as she carved through them with no sign of trepidation to forge a victory in heat two in 2:02.98, the fastest time in the field. Oregon's Anne Kesselring was well behind Wright, finishing second in the heat in 2:05.16. Indiana's Molly Beckwith, meanwhile, had the number two mark of the qualifiers, taking heat three in 2:03.90.
"Phoebe looked very good today," UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark said. "The weather was OK coming into the meet. It was a little cool, but it was O.K. Right before the race started it began to come down pretty good, but she did what she was supposed to do, which is advance. That was the key today."
Lady Vol senior Kimarra McDonald also was in action in heat two of the 800, but her breakthrough season in that event came to a close. In her first NCAA individual appearance, the product of Lumberton, N.J., placed seventh in the heat and 21st overall in 2:10.85. She does, though, have unfinished business at this meet. She and Wright will join sophomore Ellen Wortham and freshman Martinique Octave on Thursday in the semifinal round of the 4x400m relay.
"She had a good season in the 800," Clark said. "She came back for her fifth year and really accomplished a lot throughout the entire outdoor season. She helped us out at Penn Relays and scored at the conference meet, and advancing to the NCAA meet is a really big deal. She still has the relay to go here, so she's not done yet."
Wortham also saw her individual pursuit come to a close in the semifinals of the 400m hurdles. After a season in which she lowered her career best five times along the way, dropping it from 59.08 to 57.55, the Maryville (Tenn.) High School graduate didn't have her best stuff on Wednesday. She wound up sixth in heat one in 59.05 and placed 18th overall.
"Normally, Ellen is a big-race performer," Clark said. "She normally does a great job in the big meets, but she didn't have a perfect day today. I'm very proud of what she's done. She's had four or five PRs this year, and she's going to do some big things as time goes on."
On Thursday, in addition to the aforementioned women's 4x4 semifinals, sophomore Brittany Sheffey will run in the 1500m semis. The UT men will swing into action for the first time in Track Town USA, with sophomore Robert Rasnick and senior Brad Holtz competing in the pole vault, senior Matt Maloney taking part in the javelin throw and seniors Evander Wells and Kyle Stevenson running in the 200m dash semifinals.
The live results link is http://www.flashresults.com/2010_Meets/outdoor/NCAA/ and the live video link is http://all-access.cbssports.com/player.html?DB_OEM_ID=500&code=ncaa.
400m Hurdles Semifinals: 18. Ellen Wortham, 59.05p/6th, ht. 1
Pole Vault Finals: Brad Holtz, Robert Rasnick
Javelin Throw Finals: Matt Maloney
200m Semifinals: Evander Wells, Kyle Stevenson
1500m Semifinals: Brittany Sheffey
800m Final: Phoebe Wright
5000m Final: Jackie Areson
Tennessee's Saturday Schedule
200m Final: Evander Wells?, Kyle Stevenson?
1500m Final: Brittany Sheffey?
DNF - did not finish; DNR - did not run; DQ - disqualified; f - foul; fr - facility record; m - meters; mr - meet record; nwi - no wind index; p - prelims; sr - school record; ! - personal