June 24, 2010
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- For the fourth year in a row, the University of Tennessee has a presence on the ESPN The Magazine Women's Track & Field/Cross Country University Division Academic All-America Team. And, for the second consecutive season, J.J. Clark's squad boasts two first-team selections.
Seniors Jackie Areson (Delray Beach, Fla.) and Phoebe Wright (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) were announced Thursday morning as two of the 15-member first unit. Wright, also a first-team choice a year ago, received additional billing from a panel of voters from the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). The Red Bank High School graduate was voted as the ESPN The Magazine Track & Field/Cross Country University Division Academic All-American of the Year. That accomplishment is a program first for Lady Vol track & field and cross country.
A native of Signal Mountain, Tenn., and a graduate of Red Bank High School, Wright possesses a 3.96 grade point average in a difficult double major. Her areas of study include biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology, as well as ecology and evolutionary biology. She recently exhausted her collegiate eligibility and is slated to graduate in December.
Areson, who had never been on an ESPN The Magazine team until this season, fashioned a cumulative 3.62 GPA in ecology and evolutionary biology. She graduated on May 14 during the week UT was hosting the SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Academically, Wright has reaped numerous awards this season. She was selected as the SEC's H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete of the Year for all sports and the SEC Track & Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year, as well as earning ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District IV Track & Field/Cross Country accolades for the third time in her career. She garnered UT Athletics' Lady Vol Scholar-Athlete of the Year kudos at the VOLSCARS awards banquet and is in line to make the USTFCCCA All-Academic Team for the fourth time in her career. Additionally, she made the SEC Academic Honor Roll for the fourth time and was a member of the Thornton Center Honor Roll for the eighth semester.
Wright, who has won 25 of 27 collegiate 800m races over the past two seasons, recently completed a perfect senior year at 13-0 in that event. Included in her victory string were sweeps of victories at the NCAA and SEC Indoor and Outdoor Championships. She was only the second SEC woman to complete that four-race sweep and became the fifth woman in NCAA history to capture indoor and outdoor 800m national crowns in the same season.
After winning NCAA Indoor and Outdoor 800m titles and the indoor distance medley relay (for the third straight season), Wright wound up a nine-time All-American and five-time NCAA champion. Her conference 800m sweep and assist with UT's meet-record-setting DMR unit indoors made her a seven-time SEC champ and 14-time scorer in league action. She also added three Penn Relays Championships of America, giving her six in two years after UT swept the distance medley, 4x1500m and 4x800m relays for the second consecutive year. In the 4x8, she recorded the fastest 800m leg split in meet history at 2:00.89.
Wright is one of 10 women's finalists for The Bowerman, track & field's version of the Heisman Trophy, and a candidate for SEC Female Athlete of the Year and NCAA Woman of the Year. She also earned USTFCCCA South Region Outdoor Women's Track Athlete of the Year, SEC Indoor Women's Runner of the Year and UT Athletics/VOLSCARS Lady Vol Athlete of the Year. Additionally, she picked up USA Track & Field, SEC and Lady Vol Athlete of the Week accolades during the campaign.
The senior owns world records in the indoor distance medley and outdoor 4x1500m relays and has American and collegiate records in those events as well as the 4x800m relay outdoors. She is an SEC meet record holder with UT's DMR in 2010 and owns five school records (indoor DMR and 4x800m relay, and outdoor DMR, 4x800m and 4x1500m relays). Additionally, she posted the No. 2 collegiate indoor 800m time in 2010 (2:01.47) and the No. 5 collegiate indoor 500m mark (1:09.70). She ranks second indoors (2:01.47) and No. 3 outdoors (2:00.40) in UT history in the 800.
As for Areson, the product of Atlantic Community High School, she followed up a solid junior campaign with a strong senior year. It began in the fall, when she was Tennessee's finest cross country runner, pacing the Lady Vols in all six team races and qualifying individually for the NCAA Championships and making her third career appearance at that meet.
She logged the fastest 6K time in the SEC all last season, covering the distance in 20:02 at the Panorama Farms, Invitational. Areson wound up third at the SEC Championships, garnering all-league acclaim for the first time in her career. She also turned in a bronze finish at the NCAA South Region meet, collecting her third All-South Region citation. She would wind up her cross country days as a contributor to the Big Orange's scoring total in 22 consecutive meets.
On the oval, Areson raced to the first two All-America honors of her career and won three SEC Championships as well. At the national level, she carded a third-place finish in the 5000 meters and a fourth-place outcome in the 3000 meters at the NCAA Indoor meet, collecting A-A distinction for each. She had previously charted UT records in those events during the season, logging a 9:07.27 readout for 3K and a 15:53.12 effort for 5K.
At the conference level, Areson pulled off a season sweep in the 5K. She took the SEC Indoor crown in 16:15.12 and followed up with a victory outdoors, winning on her own track in 16:20.89. Areson also anchored UT to a meet record time of 11:14.59 in the distance medley relay at the SEC Indoor Championships and added a seventh-place outcome in the 1500m outdoors.
Areson concluded her career as a two-time All-American, three-time SEC champion and eight-time SEC scorer. In addition to the previous mentioned accomplishments, she was the 2009 SEC runner-up indoors in the 3K and outdoors in the 5K and handled legs on UT's victorious 4x1500m and distance medley relays at the 2010 Penn Relays.
Academically, Areson is a four-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, an eight-semester member of the Thornton Center Honor Roll and a two-time USTFCCCA All-Academic Team choice in track & field as well as cross country. Prior to making this year's Academic All-America squad, Areson made the 2010 ESPN The Magazine Women's Track & Field/Cross Country University Division Academic All-District IV First Team along with Wright and sophomore Chanelle Price.
During their careers, Areson and Wright helped Tennessee win the 2009 NCAA Indoor National Championship and finish second this season. They also were key toward the Lady Vols' SEC Indoor team titles in 2007 and 2009 and runner-up effort in 2008.
Currently, Wright is in Des Moines, Iowa, preparing for the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. She is slated to run Thursday at 4:45 p.m. in the 800m first round. Competing against a field that includes professional athletes, the Lady Vol standout placed third at this meet a year ago. Areson opted not to extend her season.