Feb. 8, 2007
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- All eyes in the U.S. track & field world will be focused on Fayetteville, Ark., this weekend, as the University of Arkansas plays host to the Tyson Invitational Friday and Saturday at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
The meet will feature a host of the nation's top collegiate teams and individuals as well as a bevy of international stars competing in invitational events on Friday night. Portions of the meet will be televised on Sunday by ESPN2, from 1 to 3 p.m. Eastern Time.
The University of Tennessee women, who enter the meet with a season-high ranking of eighth in the Trackwire 25 and 11th in the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Poll, will be seeking to post additional qualifying marks for the NCAA Indoor Championships, which will be held at this same venue on March 9-10.
This weekend's meet will also serve two other purposes for Head Coach J.J. Clark's squad. It will allow his troops to get the lay of the land and experience the type of competition they will see at the NCAA meet, and it will provide Team Orange with a final tune-up prior to the SEC Indoor Championships, which will be held Feb. 23-25 in Lexington, Ky.
Tennessee enters the Tyson Invitational with one NCAA automatic qualifier in Courtney Champion. The junior from Lawrenceville, Ga., leads in the nation with a time of 7.26 seconds in the 60-meter dash that she first ran on Jan. 13 at the Kentucky Invitational and repeated last weekend at the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational. Champion is 8-0 at that distance in 2007, with meet titles at the Kentucky and Penn State Invitationals.
Individual provisional qualifiers include Champion in the 200 meters (23.56), junior Cleo Tyson (Huntsville, Texas) in the 60m (7.28) and 200m (23.65), senior Leslie Treherne (Chesapeake, Va.) in the 800m (2:07.14), sophomore Sarah Bowman (Warrenton, Va.) in the 800m (2:06.59) and mile (4:43.08), sophomore Katie Van Horn (Glendora, N.J.) in the 5000 meters (16:34.09), freshman Nia Ali (Philadelphia, Pa.) in the 60m hurdles (8.21), sophomore Celriece Law (Denver, Colo.) in the 60m hurdles (8.37) and triple jump (41-9 1/4), sophomore Pavi'Elle "Tiki" James (Miami, Fla.) in the 60m hurdles (8.41) and junior Shanna Dickenson (Cincinnati, Ohio) in the weight throw (64-7) and shot put (50-2 1/2).
Tennessee also has qualified its distance medley relay team, with the quartet of freshman Rose-Anne Galligan (County Kildare, Ireland), junior LaTonya Loche (Bastrop, La.), Treherne and Bowman running an 11:14.01 count at the Penn State Invitational on Jan. 26. That time ranks fifth in the nation and leads the Southeastern Conference this season.
Among UT's top ranked competitors this weekend are Champion and Tyson, who rank first and fourth nationally in the 60 meters; Van Horn, who is sixth in the 5000m; Ali, who is seventh in the 60m hurdles; Bowman, who is seventh in both the 800m and mile; Treherne, who is ninth in the 800m; Champion, who is ninth in the 200m; and Dickenson, who is 12th in the weight throw.
In addition to their thoughts of gaining NCAA marks in the 400m, 3000m, 5000m, triple jump and pole vault, Tennessee hopes to add a 4x400-meter relay quartet to its NCAA travel party. The Lady Vols have not yet run their top four, which would figure to include Champion, Loche, Treherne and Tyson. The lineup of Loche, Champion, Treherne and freshman Phoebe Wright (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) logged UT's best time this season, a 3:41.89 count at the Penn State Invitational that was shy of the provisional tally of 3:40.00.
Action for Tennessee at the Tyson Invitational gets underway at Noon ET/11a.m. CT on Friday and at 11 a.m ET/10 a.m. CT on Saturday.