Jan. 15, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The University of Tennessee women's track & field team, picked No. 4 in the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Preseason Indoor Rankings, will put that measure of respect on the line this weekend, as they compete in the Kentucky Invitational in Lexington. Actions starts at 5 p.m. Friday and at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday at the University of Kentucky's Nutter Field House.
The Lady Vols' preseason ranking will be put to the test by five other top 25 programs, including No. 13 Florida, No. 16 South Carolina, No. 20 Miami (Fla.), No. 22 Kentucky and No. 25 Louisville. Other SEC schools among the 17-team women's field are Auburn, Georgia, Mississippi and Vanderbilt, while the ACC also is represented by Georgia Tech and the Big Ten has Ohio State taking part.
"We are excited and ready to get going," UT Head Women's Track & Field Coach J.J. Clark said. "We are sharp enough to open up well. At this time of the year, we aren't looking for marks that will win the NCAA meet, but we are looking to open up the season in good fashion and get some provisional qualifiers on board and give us an idea of where we are."
Clark also will use the meet as an opportunity for his squad to become familiar with the facility that will host the SEC Indoor Championships later this season.
"There's a different feel to that track," Clark said. "Running a race on that track (it's larger than a typical 200m indoor oval and is not banked) is not the same, because you don't circle all the way around for a 200m dash, or you don't come through the quarter in the same place for the mile. You have to get used to running on this track, and going there, seeing it and running on it helps us accomplish that.
"I still believe we would do well (at SECs) if we didn't have this opportunity, but having it doesn't hurt any. We look forward to actually getting a feel for the track."
Clark opens his seventh season with 19 returning letterwinners, including seven All-Americans, from last year's squad. That unit posted SEC Indoor and Outdoor finishes of second and fourth, respectively, while the team placed eighth indoors and 13th outdoors at the NCAA Championship meets. Clark did lose 10 letterwinners, four of them All-Americans, from his program, including sprinters Courtney Champion, LaTonya Loche and Cleo Tyson and thrower Shanna Dickenson. That quartet combined for 39 All-America awards during their careers and played a huge role in Tennessee winning an NCAA Indoor title in 2005 and SEC Indoor trophies in 2005 and 2007.
Top individual returnees in 2009 include seniors Sarah Bowman (Warrenton, Va.) and Celriece Law (Denver, Colo.), juniors Lynne Layne (New Rochelle, N.Y.) and Phoebe Wright (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) and sophomore Annie Alexander (Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago).
Bowman is tied for the UT record for most SEC titles in a career with eight, having swept the SEC Indoor mile, 3000m and distance medley relay titles the past two seasons as well as having won the outdoor 1500m crown in 2006 and 2008. At the NCAA level last season, she finished third in the mile and 1500 meters, setting a school record in the latter and charting the No. 4 time ever run by a collegiate woman at 4:07.50.
Alexander wasn't able to make an impact at the NCAA level after struggling with nerves at those meets in 2008, but she was dominant at the conference level. She set school records indoors (57-2) and outdoors (57-3) in the shot put, sweeping SEC Championships in those events and also adding a discus title to become the first freshman female in league history to accomplish that feat.
Wright was third in the SEC Indoor and Outdoor 800 meters during 2008, and she went from walk-on two years ago to NCAA Outdoor scorer when she placed sixth in Des Moines, Iowa, at the championship meet last spring. Law was an All-American indoors and out in the hurdles and scored at the SEC level in the hurdles and triple jump, while Layne was an All-American in the 200m indoors and the 100m outdoors, adding to the team at the SEC level by scoring in the 60m, long jump and 100m.
Other returning All-Americans include senior Kimarra McDonald (Lumberton, N.J.) and sophomores Brittany Jones (Pompano Beach, Fla.) and Brittany Sheffey (Bellport, N.Y.). Jones and Sheffey ran on UT's NCAA Indoor champion and school-record-setting DMR unit with Bowman and Wright, while McDonald and Jones also aided UT's eight-place NCAA Indoor 4x400m relay quartet alongside Wright and the graduated Loche. Sheffey, McDonald, Wright and Bowman also joined forces to deliver UT its fourth SEC Indoor DMR victory in the past five years.
Top newcomers for the Big Orange include 800m specialist Chanelle Price (Easton, Pa.), last year's Gatorade Female National Athlete of the Year; sprinter Ashley Harris (Austell, Ga.), the Georgia AAAAA runner-up in the 100 and 200 meters; and Ellen Wortham (Maryville, Tenn.), the AAA state pentathlon champion who ranked among the national prep leaders in 300m hurdles and long jump. Price is expected to make her debut next weekend.
No. 4 Lady Vol Track & Field Opens 2009 Indoor Campaign at Kentucky
|FRIDAY, JAN. 16|
|Wt. Throw (Auto: 21.00, Prov: 18.75) 5:00 p.m.|
|Pole Vault (Auto: 4.20, Prov: 3.95) 6:00 p.m.|
|Triple Jump (Auto: 13.30, Prov: 12.65) 6:00 p.m.|
|No Lady Vols Entered|
|SATURDAY, JAN. 17|
|High Jump (Auto: 1.85, Prov: 1.78) 10:30 a.m.|
|Long Jump (Auto: 6.35, Prov: 6.10) 11:00 a.m.|
|Shot Put (Auto: 16.90, Prov: 15.20) 11:30 a.m.|
|60mH Prelims (Auto: 8.14; Prov: 8.43) 12:30 p.m.|
|60m Prelims (Auto: 7.26; Prov: 7.44) 12:50 p.m.|
|Mile (Auto: 4:38.00; Prov: 4:48.00)^ 1:15 p.m.|
|Katie Van Horn|
|60mH Final (Auto: 8.14; Prov: 8.43) 1:50 p.m.|
|60m Final (Auto: 7.26; Prov: 7.44) 2:00 p.m.|
|400m (Auto: 52.40, Prov: 54.40)^ 2:15 p.m.|
|800m (Auto: 2:05.40, Prov: 2:09.40)^ 3:00 p.m.|
|200m (Auto: 23.20, Prov: 23.90)^ 3:35 p.m.|
|3000m (Auto: 9:15.00, Prov: 9:34.00)^ 4:15 p.m.|
|4x400mR (Auto: 3:33.00, Prov: 3:40.00)^ 4:50 p.m.|