June 11, 2011
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Annie Alexander launched a school-record throw in the shot put Saturday afternoon, while the Lady Vol 4x400m relay and Vol sprinter Dentarius Locke also punched through for points on the final day of the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Drake Stadium.
As a result, the Lady Vols wound up finishing tied for 11th in the women's team standings with 20 points. Texas A&M claimed the title with 49, followed in second by Oregon with 45. In the men's team race, Locke provided UT's lone point for a tie for 64th-place. Texas A&M took home the trophy with 55 points, edging Florida State (54) and Florida (53).
"My goal coming into today was to see if the women could get into the 20s for points," UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark said. "I figured if we could get into the mid-20s that would probably get us a top-10 finish. We came in 11th and did the best we could with what we had today, and that's all we could do.
"On the men's side, we need more talent at the national level. It's plain and simple."
Alexander, a junior from Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, matched her placing in Wednesday's discus throw competition, unloading a blast of 57 feet, 11 1/4 inches to snare third place in the shot put on the final day. That measurement was not only a career best, but it also improved upon her own school record of 57-9 3/4, which she set on April 2 at the UT-UCLA Dual.
Entering the meet seeded fourth and having acquired a reputation as a late-round performer, Alexander came ready to perform from the get-go on Saturday. She opened the proceedings with a toss of 54-10 3/4 and improved in each of her six attempts. She followed with tosses of 55-2, 55-6 1/4, 56-1 1/4 and 56-4 1/2 before her deciding effort, and never fell below fourth place during the course of the event.
"Annie had a banner meet," Clark said. "She came here, delivered and threw her best. She competed in both events (discus, shot) very well.
"John Frazier does a great job of fine-tuning her and getting her ready. She improved every throw today, and I want to congratulate her on doing a great job and also coach Frazier on delivering that."
The Lady Vol 4x4 had the second-best effort on a sunny afternoon at the blue oval. The quartet of Ellen Wortham, Kianna Ruff, Martinique Octave and Nijgia Snapp produced a season-best readout of 3:32.15 to score two points in a seventh-place showing. Clark was very complementary of the late-blooming group, which worked through some injuries to shine at season's end.
"They've been hurt all year with Nijgia's hamstring and Martinique's quad," Clark said. "At regionals, we put our team together for the first time and were fortunate enough to make the NCAA meet. They came here and made the finals.
"Ellen was a great lead-off leg, giving us a good start. We just went from there, coming together to run the best time of the year in the last meet. That's what you want to do. The good thing is that they are all coming back next year."
For the UT men, Locke got on the scoreboard in his second NCAA meet and produced another All-America effort. The redshirt freshman from Tampa wound up eighth in the 200-meter dash, jetting around the turn and down the straightaway in 20.91 with a 2.6 wind at his back. An All-American in the 60 meters indoors, he will match those accolades outdoors in the 200. That's not a bad showing for a sprinter, much less a first-year collegiate competitor.
"He's an All-American as a freshman," Clark said, recognizing the fine accomplishment by the rookie. "He had to run out of lane one today, which is difficult. He did the best that he could do, and I'm very proud that he came as a freshman and scored in the 200. I congratulate him on that."
Brittany Sheffey's day in the 1500m didn't go as she had hoped, but she now has a complete race under her belt after being tripped in the NCAA semifinal round the past two seasons. After advancing to the championship race this season via a protest by her coach, Sheffey wound up 12th in 4:22.50.
The UT junior led the pack through the first two laps as she did on Thursday. As the bell sounded for the final 400, though, she found herself boxed in on the rail. She had no clear path to the outside until about 200 remained, but by that time is was too late.
"Brittany had a bad race," Clark said. "We know that she can compete with these runners. She beat two of them last week who finished in the top three at this meet. She is a talented and quality athlete, and she just had a bad day. I believe she will be able to be a contributor for us next year."
200m Final: 8. Dentarius Locke, 20.91w (w: 2.6)
200m Semifinals: Adv. Dentarius Locke, 20.69p/3rd, ht. 3 (8th)
100m Semifinals: 13. Dentarius Locke, 10.39p/6th, ht. 3 (w: -1.1)
800m Final: 3. Chanelle Price, 2:03.02
4x400m Semifinals: Adv. Ellen Wortham / Kianna Ruff / Martinique Octave / Nijgia Snapp, 3:32.98p/1st, ht. 1
1500m Semifinals: Adv. Brittany Sheffey, 4:26.49p/11th, ht. 1 (22nd, advanced to final after NCAA rules she was tripped)
Discus Throw Semifinals: 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
Annie Alexander talks about her third-place finish in the NCAA Outdoor shot put.