Feb. 4, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- It's not quite Broadway. Nevertheless, the second-ranked University of Tennessee women's track & field team will be performing on a grand stage in New York City on Friday and Saturday, as the Lady Vols take part in the New Balance Collegiate Invitational at upper Manhattan's 168th Street Armory.
With the Armory's newly-refurbished New Balance Track & Field Center serving as the venue, UT will try to add more NCAA Championship qualifiers to go along with distance ace Sarah Bowman. The senior from Warrenton, Va., has very impressively punched her ticket to the March 13-14 national meet in College Station, Texas, in the 800m, mile and 3000m and leads the NCAA in the shorter two events and is sixth in the longer one with marks of 2:04.58, 4:35.35 and 9:11.31, respectively.
Bowman, who has earned Southeastern Conference Female Runner of the Week accolades the past three weeks, is undefeated this season individually in three events and in the 4x800m and distance medley relays. The six-time All-American and eight-time SEC champion will most likely anchor UT's DMR at 6:45 p.m. on Friday night and will run Saturday either in the championship 5000m at 10:07 a.m. or in the college 4x400m relay at 12:25 p.m.
"We just want to keep her going and have her run a relay," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said of Bowman. "We'll see if she can help our team put another mark together that will get us to the NCAA meet. That's my goal for her. After the DMR on Friday, we'll see how she's feeling for other events -- maybe run an 800 or a leg on the 4x4."
The Big Orange, which is making its first appearance in the Big Apple since taking part in the Armory Collegiate Invitational back in 2003, will travel 21 athletes to the meet, which begins on Friday morning and concludes late Saturday afternoon. Among the dozens of teams slated to be on hand include No. 1 Texas A&M, No. 2 Tennessee, No. 4 LSU, No. 5 Florida State, No. 6 Texas, No. 10 Oregon, No. 12 South Carolina, No. 14 Arkansas, No. 17 North Carolina and No. 23 Baylor.
"This meet fits our schedule, and it's a meet where good times usually are produced," Clark said. "We came up here my first year at Tennessee, and it was a good meet. This year, it fit our rotation again, and we also have a lot of youngsters from the area (N.Y., N.J., Pa.) whose parents and family will get an opportunity to see them compete. More importantly, this meet helps get us ready for later in the season when we compete at the SEC and NCAA Championships."
The meet will be scored, awarding 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 points for first through eighth places. The top four teams will receive trophies. Clark, though, is focused more on developing personnel for the SEC and NCAA Championships later this season rather than trying to bring home hardware from this competition.
"It's a scored meet, and you'd like to take it seriously in terms of trying to score points and compete for a team title," Clark said. "The reality of the situation, though, is that we're also trying to qualify people and get folks in the events that are necessary for us to be successful down the road. We have entries in a lot of different areas, and we'll try to do both as it relates to our primary objective. We'll see how the scoring comes out at meet's end."
In addition to Bowman, Tennessee's top performers thus far have been junior Phoebe Wright (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) in the 800m (2:05.71 provisional), sophomore Annie Alexander (Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago) in the shot put (54-7 1/4), senior Celriece Law (Denver, Colo.) in the 60m hurdles (8.30), junior Lynne Layne (New Rochelle, N.Y.) in the 60m (7.41), senior Alicia Essex (Purcellville, Va.) in the pole vault (13-0 3/4) and junior Jackie Areson (Delray Beach, Fla.) in the mile (4:47.90). All are provisionally qualified and looking for improvement.
Rating the highest nationally among that group is Wright, the 2008 NCAA Outdoor sixth-place 800m finisher who stands third indoors this season. Alexander, is fourth in the shot, while Law is ninth in the hurdles. Essex and Layne rank 16th in the vault and 60m, respectively, while Areson is 26th in the country in the mile.
Individuals looking for breakthrough qualifying efforts this weekend are Layne in the 200m, sophomore Brittany Jones (Pompano Beach, Fla.) in the 400m, current SEC Freshman of the Week and 2008 Gatorade Female Prep Athlete of the Year Chanelle Price (Easton, Pa.) in the 800m and senior Katie Van Horn (Glendora, N.J.) in the 3000m or 5000m. Tennessee also is seeking to get qualifying marks on the board for its 4x400m and distance medley units, the latter of which won the NCAA title in 2008 with all underclass runners. Last weekend, the Lady Vols posted one of the best 4x800m relay times in women's track & field history, breaking school, meet and facility records at the Penn State National Invitational with an 8:34.32 showing.
"I would like to see more automatics and better provisional marks from our group," Clark said. "In every area, we can put some better marks up, from a provisional and automatic standpoint. This is a big meet with a lot of quality in every event, and we are just looking forward to going up there and competing."
|FRIDAY, FEB. 6|
|Ch. Shot Put (Auto: 16.90, Prov: 15.20) 11:30 a.m.|
|Coll. High Jump (Auto: 1.85, Prov: 1.78) 11:40 a.m.|
|Coll. 3000m Fin. (Auto: 9:15.00; Prov: 9:34.00)b 11:45 a.m.|
|Katie Van Horn|
|Coll. Long Jump (Auto: 6.35, Prov: 6.10) 11:45 a.m.|
|Ch. 400m Pre. (Auto: 52.40, Prov: 54.40)b 1:55 p.m.|
|Ch. 60mH Pre. (Auto: 8.14; Prov: 8.43) 3:35 p.m.|
|Ch. 60m Pre. (Auto: 7.26; Prov: 7.44) 4:25 p.m.|
|Ch. Pole Vault (Auto: 4.20, Prov: 3.95) 4:35 p.m.|
|Ch. Long Jump (Auto: 6.35, Prov: 6.10) 4:40 p.m.|
|60mH Fin. (Auto: 8.14; Prov: 8.43) 6:14 or 6:35 p.m.|
|Ch. DMR Fin. (Auto: 11:09.00, Prov: 11:30.00)b 6:45 p.m.|
|60m Fin. (Auto: 7.26; Prov: 7.44) 7:00 or 7:08 p.m.|
|SATURDAY, FEB. 7|
|Coll. Mile Fin. (Auto: 4:38.00; Prov: 4:48.00)b 9:00 a.m.|
|Ch. Wt. Throw (Auto: 21.00, Prov: 18.75) 9:05 a.m.|
|Conso. High Jump (Auto: 1.85, Prov: 1.78) 9:15 a.m.|
|Coll. 800m Fin. (Auto: 2:05.40, Prov: 2:09.40)b 9:45 a.m.|
|Ch. 5000m Fin. (Auto: 16:08.00, Prov: 16:45.00)b 10:07 a.m.|
|Katie Van Horn|
|Ch. 200m Pre. (Auto: 23.20, Prov: 23.90)b 11:12 a.m.|
|Coll. 4x400mR Fin. (Auto: 3:33.00, Prov: 3:40.00)b 12:25 p.m.|
|Ch. 200m Fin. (Auto: 23.20, Prov: 23.90)b 1:25 p.m.|
|Ch. 400m Fin. (Auto: 52.40, Prov: 54.40)b 2:35 p.m.|
|Ch. Mile Final (Auto: 4:38.00; Prov: 4:48.00)b 3:08 p.m.|
b - Banked Track Qualifying Standard, dnf - Did Not Finish, dnr - Did Not Run, f - Facility Record, fts - Flat Track Qualifying Standard, m - Meters, mr - meet Record, nm - No Mark Recorded, p - Prelims, s - School Record (Indoors), u - Undersized Track Qualifying Standard, * - NCAA Automatic Qualifier, + - NCAA Provisional Qualifier, ! - Personal Record (Indoors), ^ - Oversized Track Qualifying Standard