Nov. 28, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- As J.J. Clark embarks on his fifth season as head women's track & field coach at the University of Tennessee, he will do so with the sixth-ranked signing class in the nation, according to the annual Track & Field News recruiting survey.
The Lady Vols, who won NCAA and Southeastern Conference Indoor national titles in 2005, were among four SEC schools cited by TFN as reeling in top-10 signing classes. The others are No. 3 LSU, No. 5 Florida and No. 9 South Carolina. Also making the upper echelon were No. 1 Southern California, No. 2 Texas A&M, No. 4 Nebraska, No. 7 Stanford, No. 8 Oregon and No. 10 Duke.
Among the top flight newcomers who have already represented the Big Orange are freshman distance runners Jackie Areson (Delray Beach, Fla./Atlantic Community H.S.), Rose-Anne Galligan (County Kildare, Ireland/Newbridge College) and Kelly Parrish (Ocala, Fla./Vanguard H.S.).
Areson and Parrish were high school All-Americans and multi-time state champions in Florida, while Galligan possesses Irish junior national records in the 1500m and 3000m indoors and was a three-time national champion in the 1500m from 2003 to 2005 and won a national 800m title in 2005 to boot. Areson fared the best of the trio during the fall 2006 cross country season, scoring in all seven meets for Tennessee and earning USTFCCCA All-South Region honors.
Joining the program after transferring from the University of Southern California and the University of Miami, respectively, are jumper Brittany Daniels (Tracy, Calif./Merrill West) and hurdler Pavi'Elle "Tiki" James (Miami, Fla./Northwestern). Both were high school All-Americans and were recruited by Tennessee during their prep days after five-time state champ Daniels set an American junior record in the triple jump and was the 2005 Gatorade Female Track & Field Athlete of the Year, while James was a two-time 4A state champ in Florida and the 2005 Nike Outdoor national champion in the 100m hurdles.
The rookie class includes a pair of blue chip recruits in hurdler/sprinter Nia Ali and sprinter Lynne Layne. Ali is a national prep champion in the 60m hurdles who hails from Philadelphia, Pa., and attended Pleasantville, N.J., High School. Layne, meanwhile, is a product of New Rochelle N.Y. (New Rochelle H.S.), who won indoor national titles in the 60 and 200 meters during her high school days.
"As a coach, this is the strongest recruiting class I've ever had," Clark said. "Our sprint/distance combination will allow us to have many great and exciting moments here at UT. We look forward to coming together when it is time. That should be a lot of fun."
Tennessee also returns All-America performers in sprinters Courtney Champion (Lawrenceville, Ga.), LaTonya Loche (Bastrop, La.) and Cleo Tyson (Huntsville, Texas) and 800m runner Leslie Treherne (Chesapeake, Va.). It also welcomes back 2006 SEC 1500m champ and NCAA qualifier Sarah Bowman (Warrenton, Va.) and previous NCAA qualifiers Felicia Guliford (Gallup, N.M.) in the distance events and Celriece Law (Denver, Colo.) in the hurdles.
UT will open its 2007 indoor campaign on Jan. 12-13, as it travels to Lexington, Ky., for the Kentucky Invitational at Nutter Fieldhouse.
"We're really happy to have some freshmen and transfers add to the stability and growth of our program," Clark said. "We're a good team on paper and should have the potential to do well in our conference and nationally."