Jan. 29, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- After earning the No. 2 spot in Wednesday's United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Indoor Rankings, the Tennessee women's track & field team will put that status on the line Friday and Saturday at the Penn State National Invitational. Action starts Friday at noon and runs through Saturday evening at the Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track & Field Complex.
The Lady Vols rose from fourth in the USTFCCCA's preseason rankings to second this week after giving a good account of themselves in an 83-69 loss to No. 1 Texas A&M in a dual meet in College Station last Saturday. In that contest, UT won eight of the 15 events and charted an NCAA automatic qualifying time and five provisionals in the process. That success should serve as a springboard as Team Orange heads to a venue where it always has performed well.
"Penn State is normally a turning point for us, where we start getting the ball rolling," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "We are looking forward to doing the same thing this time around.
"We definitely picked up some momentum last weekend at Texas A&M and need to carry that forward, bring a little more enthusiasm and try to get some other areas of our team involved with provisional and automatic qualifying marks. I believe we're in a position to do that."
Tennessee will go into battle against a fairly large field, including ranked foes in No. 7 Virginia Tech, No. 14 Arkansas, No. 18 Penn State and No. 25 Kentucky. Among the other teams scheduled to be on hand are Akron, Central Florida, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Georgetown, Penn, Pittsburgh, Princeton, Syracuse, Villanova, Virginia and West Virginia.
Several subplots will unfold during the course of the meet. In the 60m dash, junior All-American Lynne Layne (New Rochelle, N.Y.) will enter the fray attempting to extend Tennessee's streak of victories in that event to five straight at this meet. She was third a year ago in 7.42 seconds and enters this year's competition with a provisional of 7.41 that she earned by taking second against a stout A&M sprint corps at College Station last Saturday. UT's previous 60m victors were Cleo Tyson in 2005 and 2006 and Courtney Champion in 2007 and 2008. Tyson actually set the meet record in 2007 at 7.28 but did not run in the final.
"We aren't really concerned with the streak in the short sprint," Clark said. "It is nice to have that, and it's nice to win, but I would rather see them improve from where they were last week and get some more provisional and autos on the board.
"That's my primary goal, and if that involves another win, then great. If not and we keep progressing forward, then good. We're just going to go there, forget about numbers and focus on execution."
Another side story could develop in the invitational 800 meters, an event senior All-American Sarah Bowman (Warrenton, Va.) is slated to run on Saturday. If the two-time 2009 SEC Female Runner of the Week honoree does enter that race, she has an opportunity to earn her third different individual NCAA automatic qualifying mark this season. During the first two meets of 2009, Bowman had a 9:11.31 auto in the 3000m at the Kentucky Invitational and a 4:35.35 auto in the mile at Texas A&M. She might also add a fourth mark in the distance medley relay. In any case, Clark has never had an athlete earn three individual autos in three different events.
After debuting in the mile last weekend, highly-touted rookie Chanelle Price (Easton, Pa.) will return to her home state to compete in the 500m run. She may also see relay duty. Price is the track record-holder in the 800 meters, having set the standard at 2:04.96 in 2007 as a high school junior.
Senior Katie Van Horn (Glendora, N.J.) will head back to Happy Valley in search of a third consecutive win. She claimed victory in the invitational 5000m in 2007 and 2008 but this time is entered in the invitational 3000m. Sophomore Annie Alexander (Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago) also is attempting back-to-back triumphs. She won the shot put in 2008 at 53-3 3/4. Senior All-American Celriece Law (Denver, Colo.), meanwhile, is seeking a breakthrough in more ways than one. She is hoping to hit her first NCAA qualifier of 2009 and ascend to the top step of the victory stand in the 60m hurdles after placing second at this meet in 2006 and ninth a year ago.
Tennessee's distance medley relay unit was another area where the squad celebrated at last season's meet, with Bowman, Brittany Jones (Pompano Beach, Fla.), Phoebe Wright (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) and Brittany Sheffey (Bellport, N.Y.) carrying the stick to top honors. That group would later win the 2008 NCAA Indoor title and set school records indoors and out in that event. Clark has not yet finalized his lineup for Friday evening.
UT's 2004 DMR unit set meet and facility records at 11:03.42. Tennessee also owns facility marks in the 200m and 4x4. The Lady Vols have meet records in the 60m, 200m, 4x4 and DMR.
The Big Orange will begin its competition in the meet at noon on Friday when junior Jená Murphy (Memphis, Tenn.) and freshman Ellen Wortham (Maryville, Tenn.) compete in their first collegiate pentathlons.
|FRIDAY, JAN. 30|
|Pentathlon (Auto: 4,050; Prov: 3,700) Noon|
|(55mH/HJ/SP/LJ/800m - last event at 5:10 p.m.)|
|Wt. Throw (Auto: 21.00, Prov: 18.75) 5:45 p.m.|
|60mH Pre. (Auto: 8.14; Prov: 8.43) 6:05 p.m.|
|60m Pre. (Auto: 7.26; Prov: 7.44) 6:45 p.m.|
|60mH Semi. (Auto: 8.14; Prov: 8.43) 7:50 p.m.|
|60m Semi. (Auto: 7.26; Prov: 7.44) 8:10 p.m.|
|DMR (Auto: 11:09.00, Prov: 11:30.00)b 8:50 p.m.|
|60mH Final (Auto: 8.14; Prov: 8.43) 9:45 p.m.|
|60m Final (Auto: 7.26; Prov: 7.44) 9:55 p.m.|
|SATURDAY, JAN. 31|
|400m (Auto: 52.40, Prov: 54.40)b 10:00 a.m.|
|500m (Not An NCAA Event)b 10:40 a.m.|
|Shot Put (Auto: 16.90, Prov: 15.20) 11:00 a.m.|
|800m (Auto: 2:05.40, Prov: 2:09.40)b 11:30 a.m.|
|Mile (Auto: 4:38.00; Prov: 4:48.00)b 12:10 p.m.|
|200m (Auto: 23.20, Prov: 23.90)b 12:25 p.m.|
|3000m (Auto: 9:15.00; Prov: 9:34.00)b 1:05 p.m.|
|Pole Vault (Auto: 4.20, Prov: 3.95) 3:00 p.m.|
|Inv. 800m (Auto: 2:05.40, Prov: 2:09.40)b 3:05 p.m.|
|Inv. Mile (Auto: 4:38.00; Prov: 4:48.00)b 3:35 p.m.|
|Katie Van Horn|
|Inv. 200m (Auto: 23.20, Prov: 23.90)b 4:05 p.m.|
|Inv. 3000m (Auto: 9:15.00; Prov: 9:34.00)b 4:25 p.m.|
|Katie Van Horn|
|4x800mR (Not An NCAA Event)b 4:55 p.m.|
|Inv. 4x400mR (Auto: 3:33.00, Prov: 3:40.00)b 5:20 p.m.|
|4x400mR (Auto: 3:33.00, Prov: 3:40.00)b 5:50 p.m.|