April 28, 2009

Courtesy of Tennessee

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PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- With nearly 48,000 fans cheering her on during her final lap Saturday afternoon, Phoebe Wright gave the Franklin Field crowd and Tennessee Head Coach J.J. Clark the kind of performance they wanted to see.  The junior from Signal Mountain, Tenn., ran a 2:02.62 anchor split and delivered the Lady Vols their third relay victory of the meet and another American record at the 115th Penn Relays.

Officially, the Tennessee quartet of senior Kimarra McDonald, freshman Chanelle Price, senior Sarah Bowman and Wright produced a winning time of eight minutes, 17.91 seconds to break the previous American, collegiate, meet, facility and school records.  The effort enabled the Lady Vols to win three relay events in the same Penn Relays for the third time, joining the 1984 and 2004 squads. It also allowed UT to pull off only the sixth distance triple (victories in the distance medley, 4x1500m and 4x800m relays) in meet history. North Carolina was the last to do it in 2003, and hometown school Villanova accomplished that feat in 1989, 1990, 1995 and 1997.

McDonald started off the show by running a career-best 2:09.14 opening split and delivering the baton to Price just ahead of upstart Maryland-Eastern Shore, which would wind up finishing second in 8:37.56  The 2008 Gatorade High School Female Athlete of the Year took the stick and proceeded to rip into a 2:02.45 turn of her own and destroy any shred of suspense that was present in UT’s 4x1500m world record triumph on Friday. 

Bowman began her leg with a 50m advantage and cruised twice around the oval in 2:03.70 to set the stage for Wright.  The former walk-on ran the first lap with a strong pace and then covered the final 400 meters with a throng of 47,904 spurring her on by standing and cheering as she focused on the finish line and neared the threshold of five records. 

As it turned out, she was just under the wire for the 8:19.9 American record, set in 1979 with J.J. Clark’s sister Joetta as part of that group.  Also falling Saturday were the collegiate, meet and facility marks of Michigan (8:18.78, 2007) and the Lady Vol standard of 8:20.22. That last mark had stood since 1984, when Karol Davidson, Alisa Harvey, Cathy Rattray and Clark won in Philadelphia.

“We went out there to win the race,” Clark said. “We know that we have a good team, and we just let it happen. They were very loose after yesterday, and attitudes were good.  The quality that they had after two races was very impressive. 

“They all looked very fresh and alive.  Kimarra had a good leg and ran her fastest split ever at 2:09.  After that, it was just a roll.  They did a great job, and we’re very fortunate we have a group like that.”

Clark said the atmosphere in the stadium was just electric, especially with the public address announcer updating the fans on what time Wright would have to run to break records.

“The announcer was trying to help the crowd and make them aware that we were on record pace.”  “I felt that the crowd was helping Phoebe, but she was already digging in and really did a great job.”

In light of the three relay victories this week, Jackie Areson’s 5K win and Annie Alexander’s improved NCAA-leading mark in the discus in California on Friday night, Clark is pleased with how the outdoor season is shaping up.   

“Our team is coming together.” “We have to take a breather now and translate this into the SEC meet, the NCAA regional meet and the NCAA meet.  I believe it translates well.”

The Lady Vols, indeed, are off next weekend, but they return to action at home on May 9, as they host the Tennessee Invitational at Tom Black Track at LaPorte Stadium.

Lady Vols Set World Record In 4x1500 Relay

Courtesy of Tennessee

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- For the second time in the past two months, the Lady Vol track & field team is sitting on top of the world.  The women’s 4x1500-meter relay team snared Tennessee’s second baton event title in as many days at Franklin Field and did so in world-record-setting fashion Friday afternoon in front of a crowd of 39,501 at the 115th Penn Relays.

On March 13, UT’s distance medley relay unit smashed the world record en route to an NCAA Indoor Championship in that event.  On Friday, the Lady Vol 4x1500m contingent used a blistering time of 17 minutes, 8.34 seconds to unseat Australia’s previous 2000 world best of 17:09.75. That effort enabled the Big Orange to win its first-ever 4x15 crown at Penn and card its second victory in as many days, following the distance medley triumph on Thursday.  J.J. Clark’s squad will go for the trifecta on Saturday, competing in the 4x800m relay at 2 p.m. ESPN2 will have the telecast from 4 to 6 p.m. Eastern Time and may show portions of UT’s victorious performances.

Senior Sarah Bowman, who anchored three runner-up UT outfits a year ago, continued to exorcise her 2008 demons one race at a time.  After being handed a lead and holding on to win Thursday, Bowman had ground to make up on Friday despite some outstanding legs from her teammates.  Following career-best 1500m splits from freshman Chanelle Price (4:19.5), junior Phoebe Wright (4:19.0) and senior Rolanda Bell (4:19.6), Bowman took the baton for the final hitch in fourth place just behind Villanova and Washington and about 15 meters back of Georgetown.       

The veteran ran patiently the first lap and began to creep up on the Hoyas’ Maggie Infield as she completed the second lap.  After contently running just behind Infield on lap three, Bowman moved to her opponent’s side as the bell sounded to signify the final lap.  With 250 to go, the nine-time Lady Vol All-American attempted to make her move, but Infield held her off.  With 200 meters, Bowman tried again with more gusto and utilized her speed to leave the GU runner-up behind, carding a 4:10.2 anchor split.  Thanks to Bowman’s performance, the second-fastest split in meet history, the Hoyas finished second in 17:11.86.

In addition to rewriting the world mark, Tennessee reset the 2006 American record (Stanford, 17:18.63), the 1990 collegiate mark (Villanova, 17:18.10), the 2007 meet and stadium marks (Michigan, 17:15.62) and the 1989 school record (17:22.82, by Gina Wilbanks, Patty Wiegand, Valerie Bertand and Jasmin Jones).

“The team ran absolutely great, and you saw a different team than you saw out there yesterday,” Clark said. “They all ran their personal bests to get the job done.  To break world, American and collegiate records is an amazing feat. It really shows you the caliber of young ladies we have.
“When you have Sarah on the anchor leg, it really adds to the power and quality of your team. I’m really proud of what they’ve all done, and you can’t say enough about this group and what has happened over the past several weeks.”

Clark also was pleased that a couple of local product seniors in Rolanda Bell (Laurelton, N.Y.) and Kimarra McDonald (Lumberton, N.J.) were part of UT’s victories the past two days.

“It is really nice,” Clark said. “Kimarra and Rolanda have run here before but haven’t won.  After the team won yesterday (with McDonald), they said, ‘let’s see if we can get a win and a watch (winner’s award) for Rolanda today.’  Jackie added to that, too, last night in the 5K. It is very gratifying to see the team put out that kind of effort.”

Earlier in the day, in the 4x100m relay, Tennessee generated a fifth-place finish.  Posting yet another season-best time, the Lady Vol quartet of senior Celriece Law, freshmen Ashley Harris and Ellen Wortham, and junior Lynne Layne produced a readout of 44.89 seconds.

Individually, Layne made the final in the 100m dash, running 11.70 and finishing fifth in heat two and ninth fastest of the qualifiers.  She will not run on Saturday, though, due to UT’s travel plans.  Also competing was Law in the 100m hurdles, finishing third in heat one and 16th overall in 13.70.

Tennessee will only have its 4x800m relay in action at Franklin Field on Saturday.  The throwers, meanwhile, will be in action at the UCSD Triton Invitational in LaJolla, Calif., and pole vaulter Alicia Essex competes at the Western Kentucky Invitational in Bowling Green, Ky.

Blue Devils Close Penn Relays With Relay Performances

Courtesy of Duke

PHILADELPHIA – The Duke men’s and women’s track & field squads fittingly turned to their relay teams during day three of the historic Penn Relays, and received three strong performances Saturday afternoon to close out competition at the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field.

The Duke men’s Championship of America 4xMile relay took sixth in 16:32.40, the second-best all-time mark at Duke. The squad was in eighth with a lap to go, before anchor Cory Nanni passed runners from Penn State and Michigan to propel the Blue Devils into sixth. Josua Lund led off in 4:10.2, handing off to Ryan McDermott in 4:10.0 and Bo Waggoner in 4:08.6. Nanni then turned in a lifetime-best 4:03.4 to close it out.

The women’s college 4x800m relay team of Leslie Morrison (2:13.0), Esther Vermeer (2:11.9), Emily Schwitzer (2:13.9), and Devotia Moore (2:11.6) took second in a total time of 8:50.95, good for an ECAC qualifier.

Then, the college men’s 4x800m team took fourth in 7:31.92, an IC4A mark, as Sean Pat Oswald led off in 1:54.2 before freshman Stephen Clark notched his second PR of the weekend in the 800m, splitting 1:50.9 for Duke’s fastest outdoor 800 this year. McDermott and Nanni then doubled back in the event in 1:54.1 and 1:52.6, respectively.

“Overall we saw a great weekend – this is one of the best showings Duke has had at Penn in years,” said Director of Track & Field Norm Ogilvie. “We’re excited to return home next weekend.”

The Blue Devils will host their second home meet of the spring next Sunday, May 3, at Wallace Wade Stadium in the annual Duke/asics Twilight.

Jason Richardson Wins Third Penn Relays Championship of America Crown

Courtesy of South Carolina

PHILADELPHIA - Senior Jason Richardson won his third Penn Relays Championships of America title in four years as the reigning NCAA Champion won the 110m hurdles at 13.56. The six-time All-American ties the Penn Relays record for most championships in the event and is the first man to win three 110m hurdles titles in a career since Larry Wade earned his third title in 1998.

Richardson won his first carnival championship as a sophomore in 2006 at 13.73 before winning his second title last year at 13.68. In 2005 as a freshman, Richardson was the runner-up in the event at 13.76 He did not compete in 2007 due to taking a medical redshirt year. He finishes as the sixth in an elite group of hurdlers to achieve three wins in the 115 years of the Penn Relays.

"It feels good to go out there and perform at such a big meet," Richardson said. "Penn is like nationals; you just have to get through it. I competed here four times and three out of four isn't bad."

Richardson's weekend was a big in preparing him for conference and nationals as it was the first meet that he was able to go at full strength since missing the NCAA Indoor Championships with a strained hamstring. He responded in the prelims yesterday with a win at 13.44, the fourth fastest time run at the relays.

"I'm refocused," Richardson said. "This is my first big meet back. I've been working with Andy Miller who is an amazing massage guru on the professional circuit. With his confidence that I could make it back, that was all I needed to go out and run."

Sophomore All-American Johnny Dutch took sixth in the final at 14.16. Carolina was the only school to qualify two athletes in the 110m hurdles finals.

The men's 4x100m relay opened the day for Carolina in the consolation final and responded with a season best 39.52 to win the event. The team of Johnathan Hancock, Antonio Sales, Quentin Moore and Obakeng Ngwigwa ran a full second faster than Friday's heat race and finished with the fifth fastest time of the day - only four of the teams in the championship final ran a faster time.

The women's mile relay brought Carolina its third win of the day with a time of 3:36.71 in the consolation final for the team's fastest time this season. Brandi Cross, Breehana Jacobs, Janica Austin and Gabrielle Glenn combined for the win.

Obakeng Ngwigwa, Antonio Sales, Quentin Moore and Aaron Anderson took third in the 4x200m Championship of America with a school record 1:21.60, breaking a nine-year old record of 1:21.94. The men's mile relay team of Ngwigwa, Richardson, Johnny Dutch and Aaron Anderson came in fourth in the Championship of America with a season best time of 3:03.89.

Senior Johnathan Hancock and sophomore Lakya Brookins both placed third in the 100m dash championships. Hancock ran 10.44 while Brookins, the NCAA Indoor Champion in the 60m dash, ran an 11.32.

Junior Elliott Haynie took sixth in the pole vault championships with a clearance of 17-00.75 (5.20m). His top mark this year is 17-10.50 (5.45m).

Sophomore Michael Zajac placed fifth in the hammer throw at 200-04 (61.08m). Junior Erik Heymann placed 10th in the javelin throw at 174-09 (53.28m). Danielle Barnes placed ninth in the women's Olympic Development mile run at 5:06.72.

No 8/20 South Carolina has next week off before returning to the track May 8 at the UNC Elite Meet. The team will then travel to Gainesville, Fla., for the SEC Outdoor Championships held May 14-17.

TCU's 4x400 Relay Makes History At Penn Relays

Courtesy of TCU