March 2, 2011
By Eric Trainer
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee will send seven athletes to last chance qualifying meets this weekend, and the Big Orange teams also have a couple of tweaks to their outdoor schedule, UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark announced Wednesday.
On Saturday, the UT track & field athletes will be competing at two different meets, hoping to improve their times enough to merit qualification for next week's NCAA Indoor Championships, held March 11-12 in College Station Texas. In South Bend, Ind., five members of the program will be competing in the Alex Wilson Invitational at Notre Dame, while two more will be in action at the Virginia Tech Final Qualifier in Blacksburg.
Senior Peter Sigilai, who was third in the SEC men's 800 meters last weekend in a career-best 1:49.84, will try to move closer to the automatic qualifying standard of 1:48.00. He currently ranks 37th nationally and would need to be among the top 20 and at least in the low 1:48s to have a chance at nationals. He is slated to run around 12:50 p.m. on Saturday.
The Lady Vol 4x400m relay combination of junior Ellen Wortham, sophomores Martinique Octave and Nijgia Snapp, and freshman Kianna Ruff stands 18th with a mark of 3:36.16 that the group generated to place fifth at the SEC meet. The auto standard is 3:34.00, but a second's improvement would likely be enough to punch their ticket. Race time for them is 2 p.m. on Saturday.
In Blacksburg, redshirt freshman Dentarius Locke and true freshman Jarael Nelvis will try to improve their stock in the 60 and 200 meters between 12:30 to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Locke ranks 19th nationally in the 60 at 6.66 and 22nd in the 200 at 21.02 and would appear to be seeking readouts of 6.64 and the low 20.90s to assure passage to College Station. Nelvis, meanwhile, is not in the top 50 at either distance with times of 6.86 and 21.33, but he is working his way back from an injury suffered in high school last season and is looking for progress as he prepares for the upcoming outdoor campaign.
Speaking of the outdoor slate, Clark announced a couple of changes, both of which impact the throws group. Tennessee will no longer begin its outdoor campaign at the 49er Classic on March 17-19. The opening weekend for all event groups will now be March 25-26. Most of the squad will be in Orlando, Fla., for the UCF Invitational that weekend, while the distance corps will be in California at the Stanford Invitational.
Later in the season, UT's throwers now will take part in the Drake Relays, April 28-30, in Des Moines, Iowa. The rest of the team will be in Philadelphia that weekend, as scheduled, taking part in the Penn Relays.
The Vols and Lady Vols will play host to only one home meet the entire season. That event will be the annual Sea Ray Relays, held April 13-16 at UT's Tom Black Track at LaPorte Stadium.