March 11, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The second-ranked University of Tennessee women are riding a wave of momentum, as they travel to College Station, Texas, to compete in the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships on Friday and Saturday. The Lady Vols are coming off a huge victory at the SEC Indoor meet, and Head Coach J.J. Clark says his team will feed off that energy and approach things the same way, as it competes against the nation's best at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium at Texas A&M's McFerrin Athletic Center.
"Definitely, there's momentum after our SEC win," Clark said. "The team bonding was good, the chemistry was good, and the emotions were good. Sometimes you perform great, and teams still beat you. This time, we performed well and were able to get the victory. It was very gratifying.
"Now, we are looking forward to going to the NCAA meet, keeping the momentum and rhythm going and doing the best job that we possibly can. We know that you add in not only the SEC, but other schools like Texas A&M, Oregon, Florida State and some others that are in that top five or six group. We're going to stay focused, do what we are capable of doing, as we did at the SEC meet, and see where the chips will fall."
As Clark mentioned, the No. 1 ranked Aggies as well as the Lady Vols, Ducks, Seminoles and LSU are among the squads most expect to vie for the title. If Tennessee is to repeat its 2005 NCAA Indoor victory, or add to its run of four top-10 national finishes in the past five seasons, the Big Orange women must have peak performances from everyone making the trip.
"Everyone is key; it's the NCAA meet," Clark said. "Really, every athlete we are taking is pretty much at or near the top of the chart. We're going in there looking for everyone to accomplishment their goals.
"We're looking to perform as well as we possibly can, and that requires everyone. We don't have the luxury of people not performing - and that goes for every team in that top tier. That's what we are going there to do - to perform at the top level and come out of it feeling good about ourselves as a unit."
Clark goes to College Station armed with two entries ranked No. 1 in the field. Junior Phoebe Wright, the SEC champion in the 800 meters, leads the NCAA ranks with an impressive readout of two minutes, 2.39 seconds. The only Lady Vol ever to run faster is Nicole Cook, the collegiate record-holder at 2:00.75. Wright also joins sophomore Brittany Jones, freshman Chanelle Price and senior Sarah Bowman on a distance medley relay team that carded the American record and the No. 2 time in world history earlier this season at 10:56.40. UT is the defending NCAA champion in that event with everyone but Price contributing to that effort in 2008.
Bowman, who has been a double victor in the mile and 3000 meters at the past three SEC Indoor meets, is slated to attempt that double at the NCAA Championships for the first time. The third-place NCAA finisher in the mile a year ago, the SEC's Runner of the Year enters this competition ranked third in the mile at 4:34.69, while she stands ninth in the 3K at 9:11.31.
Junior Lynne Layne, meanwhile, ranks third in the 60m dash with a 7.22 readout that earned her runner-up honors at the SEC Indoor meet. Also the runner-up in the 200 meters, Layne ranks ninth in that event in 23.53. Layne was 14th at NCAAs last season in the 60m and had a finish of 12th in the 200m in 2008 and bowed out in the prelims of that event in 2007.
In the 60m hurdles, senior Celriece Law enters the fray as the sixth fastest in the field. Her season-best 8.16 performance in the SEC Indoor hurdle final earned her the first UT victory in that event since LaVonna Martin in 1987 and 1988. Law was 11th at NCAAs in 2008 and seventh in 2007.
After finishing 10th at the NCAA Indoor meet as a freshman, Annie Alexander is returning in 2009 as the No. 7 ranked competitor in the shot put. The SEC's runner-up this season, she enters the competition with a season best of 54-11 1/4 and is hopeful of launching a throw near the 57-2 personal best she charted as a rookie in 2008.
"We like to talk about executing and making sure we do what we are supposed to do, Clark said. "That's the major focus. I don't study other teams; I just focus on UT.
"That's the approach we take, and I think it has helped us stay focused. Now, with the internet, you can lose your mind focusing on other teams. I'm going to take Annie, Sarah, Celriece, Phoebe, Lynne and our relay and focus on what we are supposed to do."
Action begins with the multi-events at 10 a.m. Central Time on Friday and noon Saturday, with field and running events starting at 4 p.m. on Friday and 5 p.m. on Saturday.
ESPN360.com will stream the meet live on both days. ESPN2, meanwhile, will air a 90-minute show on Monday, March 23, at 2:30 p.m. Eastern.
|FRIDAY, MARCH 13|
|Mile Pre. (Auto: 4:38.00; Prov: 4:48.00)b 4:00 p.m.|
|60mH Pre. (Auto: 8.14; Prov: 8.43) 4:30 p.m.|
|60m Pre. (Auto: 7.26; Prov: 7.44) 5:30 p.m.|
|800m Pre. (Auto: 2:05.40, Prov: 2:09.40)b 6:00 p.m.|
|200m Pre. (Auto: 23.20, Prov: 23.90)b 6:30 p.m.|
|200m Final (Auto: 23.20, Prov: 23.90)b 8:00 p.m.|
|DMR Final (Auto: 11:09.00, Prov: 11:30.00)b 8:20 p.m.|
|Phoebe Wright/Brittany Jones/Chanelle Price/Sarah Bowman|
|(Alternates: Rolanda Bell, Ellen Wortham)|
|SATURDAY, MARCH 14|
|Shot Put (Auto: 16.90, Prov: 15.20) 3:45 p.m.|
|Mile Final (Auto: 4:38.00; Prov: 4:48.00)b 5:00 p.m.|
|60mH Final (Auto: 8.14; Prov: 8.43) 5:20 p.m.|
|60m Final (Auto: 7.26; Prov: 7.44) 6:00 p.m.|
|800m Final (Auto: 2:05.40, Prov: 2:09.40)b 6:20 p.m.|
|3000m Final (Auto: 9:15.00; Prov: 9:34.00)b 6:40 p.m.|
All Times Central
b - Banked Track Qualifying Standard, dnf - Did Not Finish, dnr - Did Not Run, f - Facility Record, fts - Flat Track Qualifying Standard, m - Meters, mr - meet Record, nm - No Mark Recorded, p - Prelims, s - School Record (Indoors), u - Undersized Track Qualifying Standard, * - NCAA Automatic Qualifier, + - NCAA Provisional Qualifier, ! - Personal Record (Indoors), ^ - Oversized Track Qualifying Standard