SEC champ Chanelle Price now turns her focus to the NCAA meet.
March 7, 2011
By Eric Trainer
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee received word on Monday evening that 12 student-athletes have qualified for the 2011 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships. The group leaves Wednesday for College Station, Texas, where the meet will be held Friday and Saturday at the Gilliam Indoor Track on the campus of Texas A&M University.
Nine Lady Vols saw their tickets punched to the NCAA meet in six total events. Leading the way were seniors Jackie Areson and Liz Costello, who rank No. 1 and No. 3 in the 5000 meters with times of 15:39.81 and 15:48.50, respectively. Areson and Costello also made the field in the 3000m, where Areson has the third-fastest mark at 9:01.91 and Costello is 17th at 9:15.39.
Areson finished third in the 5000m and fourth in the 3000m at last year's NCAA Indoor meet and posted school records in each of those events this season to earn a trip back to the big show. Costello will be making her first national appearance as a Lady Vol after transferring from Princeton, where she was an indoor All-American in 2007 with the Tigers' distance medley relay.
Other individual qualifiers included junior Chanelle Price, ranking 10th in the 800 meters at 2:05.10, and junior Ellen Wortham, standing 13th in the pentathlon with a career-best score of 3,983. Price was fourth at last year's NCAA Indoor meet and helped UT to distance medley national titles in 2009 and 2010, while Wortham also aided the DMR cause last season.
The Lady Vol distance medley and 4x400m relays also made the field with the No. 9 readouts in their events. The DMR combination of juniors Brittany Sheffey, Ashley Harris, Price and Areson qualified with an SEC meet-record time of 11:05.37 on Feb. 27 and will try to bring Tennessee its fourth straight national victory in that event. The 4x4 got in with a season-best 3:35.12 effort at Saturday's Alex Wilson Invitational last chance meet, with Wortham, sophomores Martinique Octave and Nijgia Snapp, and freshman Kianna Ruff carrying the baton.
The Tennessee women, who enter the meet ranked sixth, posted a runner-up finish in 2010 and won NCAA Indoor National Championships in 2005 and 2009.
After getting only one into the meet in 2010, the Vols qualified three in 2011, including two rookies. True freshman Justin Hunter has the top-ranked mark of the trio, entering the competition with the No. 7 long jump measurement at 26-1 1/2. That effort is a UT freshman indoor record, ranks No. 3 all-time indoors at Tennessee and is the best in the NCAA by a freshman this season.
Senior Joe Berry booked a trip to his first NCAA Indoor meet to go along with two previous outdoor appearances. His career-best mark of 17-8 1/2, which came at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational earlier this season, rates ninth in the field. He is coming off an SEC Championship-winning vault of 17-7 1/2 on Feb. 26.
Redshirt freshman Dentarius Locke also made the cut, logging a career-best 6.64 readout in the 60 meters at the Virginia Tech Final Qualifier on Saturday to punch his ticket. That mark, which moved him to No. 6 on UT's all-time performers list, ranks 13th in the field.
The UT men did not generate points at the NCAA meet last season and hope to break back into the scoring column in 2011.
Complete NCAA Indoor entry lists can be found on the NCAA website.