Denton's 800 Set Up For Super Saturday

FAYETTEVILLE -- Lady Razorbacks senior Aneita Denton has put herself in perfect position to win her first NCAA title in the 800 meters.

Denton, who set the UA record and third fastest time ever by a collegiate at the SEC Championships, set the pace in Friday's 800 preliminaries with a time of 2:04.70, a full second ahead of Ashley Patten of Missouri.

The finals of the 800 will be held today at 6:35 p.m.

"Tomorrow's my finals and I really want to win," Denton said still out of breath after the race. "This is my last year. This is my last indoor track meet and I have to make it a good one."

Missing from tonight's final is collegiate record holder and current SEC Indoor Champion in the event Nicole Cook, who finished with the 12th best preliminary time out of 16 competitors.

Cook, the favorite to win the 800 title, suffered a hamstring pull last Sunday and struggled around the track Friday.

"She was in pain the whole way. She was a warrior the whole way. She was just trying to do the best she could, but couldn't change gears," said Tennessee Lady Volunteers coach J.J. Clark.

Denton had mixed feelings not having her SEC rival in the event.

"It sets me up to win, but with her not in there because that would be my main competition. If she was in there it would probably be a better race," Denton said.

Heath Harmony
Former Arkansas Lady Razorback track and field athlete Angel Heath sang Friday's national anthem during the opening ceremonies at the Tyson Center.

Heath was a two-time All-American for the Lady Razorbacks. At the 2002 NCAA Indoor Championships, she was part of Arkansas' distance medley relay team, which finished in the scoring and then again in the 2003 NCAA Indoors in the long jump.

Tyson Out
There was little drama as to whether defending NCAA 100 champion Tyson Gay would run Friday's 60 preliminaries. The Arkansas sprinter was seen in sweat pants mingling with friends and fans 30 minutes before his race was scheduled to begin.

Gay scratched himself out of the prelims where he held the fastest time in the event this season.

His school-record time of 6.55 seconds he set at February's Powered by Tyson Invitational would have been the top qualifying time.

SEC Dominance
The Southeastern Conference women owned the 200-meter dash with 11 of the 16 competitors entered in the event.

Seven of the eight finalists were from the conference -- Hazel Ann Regis (LSU), Shalonda Soloman (USC), Erica Whipple (USC), Fana Ashby (Auburn), Courtney Champion (Tennessee), Cleo Tyson (Tennessee) and LaToya Loche (Tennessee).


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