March 5, 2009
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The Southeastern Conference released its 2009 women's indoor track & field awards Thursday, and the second-ranked and SEC Champion University of Tennessee Lady Vols made their presence felt. UT skipper J.J. Clark was named SEC Indoor Coach of the Year, senior Sarah Bowman earned SEC Indoor Runner of the Year accolades and rookie Ellen Wortham was chosen SEC Indoor Co-Freshman Field Athlete of the Year.
Additionally, six Big Orange women were recognized as first-team All-SEC performers, three earned second-team all-league status and another was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team. Tennessee had more first-team women's selections than any other school.
Clark, who is in his seventh season at Tennessee, earned league indoor distinction for the third time in the past five years. He also has three SEC Cross Country Coach of the Year awards to his credit and now has earned 18 total track & field or cross country coach of the year honors during his career, including 15 while in Knoxville. This season, he led his squad to the program's third SEC Indoor trophy in five seasons and fourth overall. The Lady Vols won five events at the conference meet, set an American record in the distance medley relay this season and plated three school records in 2009 as well.
"Being chosen coach of the year is an honor, because your colleagues in the conference are the ones who vote for that," Clark said. "Being voted coach of the year in the SEC is especially rewarding, because of the stature of our league as one of the best, if not the best, in the country."
Bowman, meanwhile, became the first Lady Vol to be chosen as Runner of the Year indoors (formerly Athlete of the Year) and is the first non-sprinter to wear this crown since 2000. The native of Warrenton, Va., garnered the 2009 Cliff Harper Trophy, given to the women's high-point scorer at the SEC Indoor Championships, after becoming the first woman in league history to win the mile and 3000m and anchor the distance medley relay (DMR) team to victory three consecutive seasons. This year, she also set the school record in the mile, anchored the DMR to an American record and the No. 2 time ever in the world, and accumulated the most total (9) and individual (6) league indoor victories by anyone in Lady Vol history. Additionally, she is automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 800m, mile, 3000m and DMR, and will most likely run the mile and relay at the upcoming meet in College Station, Texas, on March 13-14.
"Sarah was very dominant throughout the entire indoor season," Clark said. "She put auto marks up in the 800m, mile, 3K and DMR, and she definitely showed she was the class of the field in three out of those four events she entered at the SEC meet. Winning three straight in the mile, 3K and DMR at the SEC Indoor meet is an historic achievement, and it was fitting that she finally was able to win the high-point trophy this season."
As for Wortham, the Maryville (Maryville H.S.) product provided two clutch performances at the SEC meet to earn a share of Co-Freshman Field Athlete of the Year. She set the tone for the team last Friday in the pentathlon by delivering a 12-second personal best in the 800m, the final event of the pentathlon, to move up from ninth position to a fifth-place overall finish with an NCAA provisional point total of 3,736. After missing on an opportunity to garner points in the high jump Sunday morning, she collected herself and ran a stout 400m leg on Tennessee's victorious DMR. She helped that group snag 10 points with the Big Orange's fifth SEC triumph in that event in the past six seasons and put the Lady Vols into the lead for good in the team standings.
"Having a student-athlete come in and be respected as one of the top freshman in the league, based on her performance at the SEC meet, is very rewarding to see as a coach," Clark said. "She did an outstanding job, and I believe her performance and her gutty effort in the pentathlon was every clear. I congratulate her on earning this honor."
Bowman and Wortham also were among six Lady Vols named to the All-SEC First Team. Bowman earned her honors for wins in the mile, 3K and DMR, while Wortham's came via the DMR. Joining them were four other victors, including senior Rolanda Bell (DMR), freshman Ramzee Fondren (DMR), senior Celriece Law (60m hurdles) and junior Phoebe Wright (800m).
Wortham also was on the 13-member SEC All-Freshman Team, which recognizes the top rookie in each of the 15 individual events. The Lady Vol made the squad as the top rookie finisher in the pentathlon with her fifth-place outcome.
2009 SEC Women's Indoor Track and Field Awards
Female Runner of the Year: Sarah Bowman, Tennessee
Female Field Athlete of the Year: Mariam Kevkhishvili, Florida
Female Freshman Runner of the Year: Nadonnia Rodrigues,
Co-Female Freshman Field Athletes of the Year: Ellen Wortham, Tennessee; Rachel Laurent, LSU
Women's Coach of the Year: J.J. Clark, Tennessee
2009 SEC Indoor Track All-SEC Teams
Peter-Gaye Beckford, Arkansas
Christine Kalmer, Arkansas
Raevan Harris, Auburn
Joanna Atkins, Auburn
Mariam Kevkhishvili, Florida
Shara Proctor, Florida
Ashley Trimble, Kentucky
Samantha Henry, LSU
Rachel Laurent, LSU
Juliana Smith, Ole Miss
Porche Byrd, South Carolina
Brandi Cross, South Carolina
Breehana Jacobs, South Carolina
Nadonnia Rodriques, South Carolina
Rolanda Bell, Tennessee
Sarah Bowman, Tennessee
Ramzee Fondren, Tennessee
Celriece Law, Tennessee
Ellen Wortham, Tennessee
Phoebe Wright, Tennessee
Denise Bargiachi, Arkansas
Courtenay Brown, Arkansas
Janine Davis, Arkansas
Tara Diebold, Arkansas
Whitney Jones, Arkansas
Samantha Learch, Arkansas
Lauren Lewis, Arkansas
Jillian Rosen, Arkansas
Karen Thomas, Arkansas
Shelise Williams, Arkansas
Charlotte Browning, Florida
Kristin Smith, Kentucky
Brittani Carter, LSU
Tenaya Jones, LSU
Andrea Linton, LSU
LaTavia Thomas, LSU
LaJada Baldwin, Ole Miss
Marrissa Harris, Mississippi State
Jackie Areson, Tennessee
Lynne Layne, Tennessee
Annie Alexander, Tennessee
SEC All-Freshman Team
60m dash - Alishea Usery, UF (5th)
200m dash - Alishea Usery, UF (3rd)
400m dash - Nadonnia Rodrigues, SC (3rd)
800m run - Sofie Persson, UM (3rd)
Mile run - Genevieve LaCaze, UF (4th)
3000m run - Genevieve LaCaze, UF (4th)
5000m run - Laura Garrow, UF (8th)
60m hurdles - Nicole Okolo, UA (8th)
High Jump - Chelsea Thomas, AU (5th)
Pole Vault - Rachel Laurent, LSU (1st)
Long Jump - Whitney Jones, AR (3rd)
Triple Jump - Madara Apine, UF (4th)
Shot Put - Fidela James, UF (9th)
Weight Throw - Allison Horner, LS (5th)
Pentathlon - Ellen Wortham, UT (5th)