June 11, 2003
Sharon Dickie guaranteed herself one more race as a Tennessee Lady Volunteer, as the fifth-year senior finished sixth in her heat and ninth fastest among the qualifiers in the 5000-meter run prelims on Wednesday night at California State University, Sacramento's Hornet Stadium.
Running on a chilly and windy night in "River City", Dickie covered the distance in 16:24.74 and earned a spot in Saturday's 8 p.m. Pacific Time championship race. After just missing out on one of the automatic bids that go to the first five finishers in each heat, Dickie easily made the finals with one of the next six fastest marks.
Colorado sophomore Sara Gorton won heat two and set the pace among all qualifiers with a 16:17.34 readout. Notre Dame freshman Molly Huddle, the runner-up in heat two at 16:18.21, posted the second-best time, while Stanford senior Lauren Fleshman won heat one at 16:18.98 and was the third best qualifier overall.
In clocking the second-fastest 5K reading of her career behind her 16:21.12 effort at the 2003 Mt. SAC Relays, Dickie made it to the
scoring round in her first trip to the NCAA Outdoor Championships. A 2001 NCAA Indoor qualifier, the Grand Blanc, Mich., native will
attempt to become the first UT woman ever to earn All-America honors indoors and out in the 5000 meters.
It wasn't an easy chore for Dickie to put herself in that position, either, as she battled aches and pains in her shins throughout the duration of the race. With six laps to go, Dickie didn't let those annoyances prevent her from going with the lead group as it separated from the rest of the field. That perseverance surely made the difference in her ability to extend her college career for one more race.
"I am really pleased with Sharon's effort and with her making it to her first NCAA Outdoor final," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "She has overcome a lot of adversity to get to this point, and she fought through some pain tonight to achieve the objective of making it to the finals. I am very appreciate of the effort she continues to give our program."
Dickie said she felt comfortable going into the race and actually visualized that she was on one of the many training runs she has taken up and down Knoxville's Cherokee Boulevard.
"During SECs and regionals, I was pretty nervous, so when I didn't feel that way before the race tonight, I thought something was wrong with me," Dickie said. "I guess I just felt really comfortable out there, and the nerves didn't bother me.
"Part of that may be because I was running each stage of the race like it was part of my practice runs on Cherokee. With each part of the race I ran, I would think about where I would be on that trail. I'm not sure why that happened, but it was helpful tonight."
During the sun-drenched morning session on Wednesday, things also went according to plan for sophomore Nicole Cook. The Petersburg, Va., native finished third in her heat and advanced to Thursday's semifinal round of the 800 meters.
Cook ran a smooth and relaxed race and conserved precious energy for the next two rounds with a 2:05.21 output that put her third in heat three just behind North Carolina's Alice Schmidt (2:04.64) and BYU's Aneta Lemiesz (2:05.02). Becky Lyne of Butler, who won the Mideast Regional where Cook placed third, posted the day's top time at 2:03.97, while Cook's reading ranks her seventh among the field of 16 who moved on to the next round.
"She did what she was supposed to do, UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "I wasn't concerned whether she won her heat or not. I just wanted her to be among the top three. I thought she looked good."
Cook joins four other Southeastern Conference athletes who advanced to the semifinals, including Neisha Bernard-Thomas of LSU, Beth Heimann and Brooke Patterson of Kentucky and Kristina Bratton of Florida. As they did on Wednesday, they will also compete on Thursday at 11:05 a.m. Pacific Time.
"Coach told me to stay with the front runners and finish in the top three so I would be one of the automatic qualifiers," Cook said. "I figured Alice Schmidt would be up front, so I just stayed with her, and I really didn't have to expend much energy today. I actually slowed it down a little bit coming down the stretch, because I didn't sense anyone behind me. The goal was to move on to the next round, and I did that without having to run too fast today."
Joining Cook in action on day two will be senior Christie Elwin (Adelaide, Australia) in the pole vault qualifying round at 10 a.m. PT and sophomore Dee Dee Trotter (Decatur, Ga.) in the 400m dash prelims at 12:55 p.m. PT. Elwin, the school indoor and outdoor record holder, enters the competition with a qualifying height of 13-2.25 that ranks her 17th in a field of 27. Trotter, the UT record holder in the 400m, is tied for fourth in the 29-athlete field at 51.65.
|WEDNESDAY, JUNE 11|
|800m Prelims 11:05 a.m. PT|
|Adv.||Nicole Cook||2:05.21/3rd, Ht. 3|
|5000m Prelims 9:20 p.m PT|
|Adv.||Sharon Dickie||16:24.74/6th, Ht. 2|
|THURSDAY, JUNE 12|
|Pole Vault Qualifying 10:00 a.m. PT|
|800m Semifinals 11:05 a.m. PT|
|400m Prelims 12:55 p.m. PT|
|Dee Dee Trotter|
|FRIDAY, JUNE 13|
|400m Semifinals 8:25 p.m. PT|
|Dee Dee Trotter|
|SATURDAY, JUNE 14|
|Pole Vault Finals 6:00 p.m. PT|
|400m Finals 7:20 p.m. PT|
|Dee Dee Trotter|
|800m Finals 8:20 p.m. PT|
|5000m Finals 8:40 p.m PT|