Feb. 10, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- After setting an American record and clocking the second fastest indoor time ever recorded over the weekend, UT track & field's distance medley relay team was named Lady Vol Athlete of the Week on Tuesday.
Running at the New Balance Track & Field Center at New York City's famed Armory on Friday night, the University of Tennessee tandem of junior Phoebe Wright (Signal Mountain, Tenn.), sophomore Brittany Jones (Pompano Beach, Fla.), freshman Chanelle Price (Easton, Pa.) and senior Sarah Bowman (Warrenton, Va.) unleashed an incredible readout of 10 minutes, 56.40 seconds. Not only did that mark win the championship division distance medley event at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational by more than eight seconds, it wiped out the previously-recognized American indoor record of 10:59.46, set by North Carolina at the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. It was the first American indoor record by any Lady Vol since Tonya Lee posted one in the pentathlon in 1991.
In addition to the American mark, Tennessee destroyed the New Balance Collegiate Invitational's 2007 meet and facility marks of North Carolina (11:04.63) and laid waste to the UT-record, 2008 NCAA Indoor Championship-winning time of 11:01.97 that Brittany Sheffey, Jones, Wright and Bowman charted less than a year ago. BYU, which challenged the Big Orange until the final leg in Friday night's race, placed second well back in 11:04.91 in a race that featured five teams that easily met the NCAA auto mark of 11:09.00.
On the world list, only Villanova University's 1990 mark of 10:54.34 stands ahead of it. Quite an amazing feat, considering Tennessee's tandem was carrying the baton together in competition for the very first time.
The Lady Vols do have a strong tradition in this event under Head Coach J.J. Clark. The Big Orange women claimed the NCAA Indoor title in the DMR in 2004 and won it again in 2008. After Friday night's performance, they will without a doubt enter the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championship meet as the prohibitive favorite. That event will take place March 13-14 in College Station, Texas.