Nov. 9, 2010
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- J.J. Clark, who is in his second season as the director of track & field at the University of Tennessee, released his program's 2011 schedule on Tuesday. The six-month itinerary extends from the indoor season-opening Kentucky Invitational in Lexington on Jan. 14-15 to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 8-11.
For the second straight season, the Big Orange will open up at the University of Kentucky's Nutter Field House in Lexington. After the 2011 debut on the oversized 290-meter oval that surrounds the Wildcats' indoor football practice field, the Vols and Lady Vols will see nothing but standard 200-meter banked tracks over the final six weeks of the indoor campaign.
In January, Tennessee will travel to the Hokie Invitational in Blacksburg, Va., Jan. 21-22, and the Penn State National in University Park, Pa., Jan. 28-29. While those meets feature competitive fields, the squads from Rocky Top will need to take it up another notch when they travel to New York City on Feb. 4-5 for the New Balance Collegiate Invitational at The Armory. That premier event in Manhattan's Washington Heights neighborhood will feature an outstanding field of competitors doing battle in front of a knowledgeable crowd in a classic venue.
The final tune-up prior to the championship portion of the indoor slate will take place on Feb. 12 at the Texas A&M Challenge in College Station. Tennessee will be part of a four-conference competition, including schools from the Big 12, Conference USA, Pac-10 and SEC, on the same track that will host the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships.
On Feb. 25-27 and March 11-12, respectively, the UT squads will test their mettle at the SEC Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., and the NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station. The Lady Vols were the NCAA Indoor champs the last time the NCAA meet was held at A&M in 2009, while the UT women have claimed NCAA (2005) and SEC (2005) crowns in Fayetteville and the men brought home NCAA (2002) hardware from the Hogs' lair as well.
Tennessee's women are coming off a runner-up NCAA Indoor finish and a fourth-place effort at SEC Indoors in 2010. The UT men were 10th at the league indoor meet and did not score at the national competition.
The outdoor half of the schedule will begin on March 17-19, as the throwers travel to Charlotte, N.C., for the 49er Classic at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. The total group swings into action the following weekend, March 25-26, with action at two different meets. The majority of the Tennessee program will be in Orlando, Fla., for the UCF Invitational, hosted by the Knights and head coach Caryl-Smith Gilbert, a former sprint coach for Clark when the Lady Vols won their first NCAA Indoor title in 2005. At the same time, a select group of distance runners will make the trip west to California, competing in the Stanford Invitational.
Next, Tennessee will take part in a rare dual meet, battling UCLA in a scored, head-to-head affair at Drake Stadium on the Westwood campus, on April 2 before returning home for its only meet in Knoxville during the entire season. Tom Black Track at LaPorte Stadium will be the locale for the 45th running of the Sea Ray Relays, April 13-16, with more than 1,000 competitors and close to 100 affiliations represented during the four-day meet that runs in conjunction with The Volunteer City's tremendously-popular Dogwood Arts Festival.
Following a split-squad weekend of April 22-23 that features most of the team in Nashville for the Vanderbilt Invitational and the throwers in LaJolla, Calif., for the UC San Diego Triton Invitational, Tennessee travels en masse to Philadelphia for the 117th edition of the Penn Relays. The Big Orange, which won three women's baton events in 2010 in front of record crowds as large as 54,310, will try to improve upon its rich legacy at Penn's Franklin Field. UT has combined to win 105 individual or relay championships through the years.
A trifecta of key meets concludes the 2011 itinerary. The Vols and Lady Vols will head to Athens, Ga., May 12-15 for the SEC Outdoor Championships. Next, it's on to Bloomington, Ind., for the NCAA East Preliminary Round, May 26-28, where individuals will attempt to advance and qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships. This year's national meet will be contested in Des Moines, Iowa, June 8-11, at another Drake Stadium, this one the perennial home of the Drake Relays.
A year ago, the Lady Vols were seventh at SEC Outdoors and qualified seven for the NCAA Outdoor meet, where UT finished in a tie for 26th. The Vols, meanwhile, were ninth at the league meet and tied for 45th outdoors with five competitors in action.
Jan. 14-15 Fri.-Sat. Kentucky Invitational Lexington, Ky. All Day
Jan. 21-22 Fri-Sat. Hokie Invitational Blacksburg, Va. All Day
Jan. 28-29 Fri.-Sat. Penn State National University Park, Pa. All Day
Feb. 4-5 Fri.-Sat. New Balance Collegiate Invitational New York, N.Y. All Day
Feb. 12 Sat. Texas A&M Challenge College Station, Texas All Day
Feb. 25-Feb. 27 Fri.-Sun. SEC Indoor Championships Fayetteville, Ark. All Day
March 11-12 Fri.-Sat. NCAA Indoor Championships College Station, Texas All Day
March 17-19 Thu.-Sat. 49er Classic (#) Charlotte, N.C. All Day
March 25-26 Fri.-Sat. UCF Invitational Orlando, Fla. All Day
March 25-26 Fri.-Sat. Stanford Invitational (#) Stanford, Calif. All Day
April 2 Sat. UCLA Dual Los Angeles, Calif. All Day
APRIL 13-16 WED.-SAT. SEA RAY RELAYS KNOXVILLE ALL DAY
April 22-23 FRI.-SAT. Vanderbilt Invitational Nashville, Tenn. All Day
April 22-23 Fri.-Sat. UCSD Triton Invitational (#) LaJolla, Calif. All Day
April 28-30 Thu.-Sat. Penn Relays Philadelphia, Pa. All Day
April 28-30 Thu.-Sat. Drake Relays (#) Des Moines, Iowa All Day
May 12-15 Thu.-Sun. SEC Outdoor Championships Athens, Ga. All Day
May 26-28 Thu.-Sat. NCAA East Preliminary Round Bloomington, Ind. All Day
June 8-11 Wed.-Sat. NCAA Outdoor Championships Des Moines, Iowa All Day
(#) Select Events Only / All Dates Are Subject To Change